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X-Men Origins Pirate Draws a 1-Year Sentence 341

Posted by timothy
from the pre-fx-version-would-make-good-bonus-content dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from geek.com: "In 2009, a copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine found its way on to Megaupload a month before it was due to appear in movie theaters. The so-called 'workprint' copy was unfinished — so unfinished in fact, anyone viewing this copy saw green screens and wires attached to actors used to help with the more acrobatic movements during action scenes. Hugh Jackman even commented on the leak, describing it as like getting a 'Ferrari without a paint job.' The person who decided to share the movie illegally was tracked down, however. He is a 49-year-old New Yorker by the name of Gilberto Sanchez, and he's just been prosecuted." The New York Times' 2010 interview with Sanchez is a good read, too.
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X-Men Origins Pirate Draws a 1-Year Sentence

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  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:09PM (#38437376)

    not like he was ripping DVD's to play on his ipod or iphone because the digital copy thing for blu ray is a scam. not like he only watched the stolen copy in his home. he uploaded it so it could be downloaded by others

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:11PM (#38437418)

      I think the punishment here is perhaps disproportionate, but I agree with the sentiment. It's far better to go after the people who knowingly share things with widespread audiences than anyone else in the infringement set-up.

      • by trdrstv (986999) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:31PM (#38437770)

        I think the punishment here is perhaps disproportionate, but I agree with the sentiment.

        It could of been worse. He could of been forced to watch the movie repeatedly through his 1 year sentence; thankfully the 8th amendment prevents that.

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:17PM (#38437506)

      So the question becomes... why does a guy that intentionally uploaded this for others, a month before the movie comes out (where I would expect the studio to make a huge chunk of its profit on the movie) only get a year in prison when someone who accidentally shares a few crappy songs gets a financial punishment that makes a year in prison look quite tame?

      • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:21PM (#38437584) Journal

        You do know that he can still be sued by the studios for copyright infringement, right? This was a criminal action. The studio can still take civil action against him if it so desires.

        • by Ravon Rodriguez (1074038) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:46PM (#38437980)
          If that's true, then it's one of the biggest perversions of justice I've seen in a long time; I'm not a lawyer, and I realize double jeopardy laws may not cross over from civil to criminal cases, but it's ridiculous to be able to send somebody to jail for stealing your imaginary property, and then be able to sue in another court for the same reason.
          • by Hadlock (143607)

            In most cases I would agree that a DVD of a movie that already came out is imaginary property, but here, you were actively paying various studios and partners to develop CGI effects and finish editing a product you'd just paid megabucks for actors to star in, a film crew to build sets, a film crew to place cameras, set off explosive charges, pay insurance premiums, pay the caterers and a thousand other line items.

            They weren't stealing a finished product that had done it's rounds in the theaters and

          • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @03:18PM (#38438478) Homepage

            It is true. The two OJ trials are a well known example. It makes sense because punishing criminals is about some combination of protecting society, rehabilitation, and retribution. It isn't about trying to cure harm caused to the actual victim; whether the victim wants to try that, and whether he'll succeed is up to him, and occurs in a civil trial, and those are all about curing harms (usually via money, for lack of better alternatives).

            • Oh, it's not often that I read something sensible on the role of criminal justice on the Internet. Granted, I see by your sig that you're a lawyer. Myself, I'm just a layman interested in the matter. Who keeps telling himself he should finally get around to read Beccaria.
      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:23PM (#38437616)

        So the question becomes... why does a guy that intentionally uploaded this for others, a month before the movie comes out (where I would expect the studio to make a huge chunk of its profit on the movie) only get a year in prison when someone who accidentally shares a few crappy songs gets a financial punishment that makes a year in prison look quite tame?

        Judges often don't have leeway in sentencing; Whether it's a "crappy" song or a pre-release of a highly-anticipated motion picture, the law says the punishment is the same. Don't blame the judges for the seemingly random or harsh sentencing... blame the politicians. I mean, I can come over to your house and beat the snot out of you on the way in to work with my bare hands and get less time than this guy did for posting some crappy "work print" movie. Which crime do you think is worse? Worse, downloading that same crappy movie can cause civil penalties far in excess of what I would get if I broke into your house and did something horrible to you (use your imagination)...

        • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:39PM (#38437902) Homepage

          > Whether it's a "crappy" song or a pre-release of a highly-anticipated motion picture, the law says the punishment is the same.

          No. Usually not. The law and judges actually have a wide degree of leeway. They have it because typically no two sets of facts are quite alike and they can be often quite different.

          The judge could have suspended the sentence entirely.

          The judge isn't just an automaton despite the fact that some people like to pretend that they are or should be.

          The ability to adapt to different circumstances is actually a good thing.

    • lesson learned, don't upload stolen movies ... he uploaded it so it could be downloaded by others

      There is one more lesson we have learned. The world is full of assholes who seem to agree with this punishment!
      So you do think that 1 year in federal prison after being hunted by FBI is an appropriate punishment for buying a bootleg movie and uploading it? Really? If he at least stole the copy during his employment - there would be a breach of trust/contract violation (why, yes, I read TFA). But he bought and uploaded a bootleg movie.
      Only in a cruel asshole world is 1 year in prison plus another year of limited computer access an appropriate punishment for uploading/sharing a movie he didn't even steal. We can argue about some fines (he's not right or anything), but the punishment is very clearly out of proportion. And those cheering it on are part of the problem!

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Lesson learned, upload movies from behind 7 proxies.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:10PM (#38437380)

    Sooo, instead of imposing a fine, we'll let the taxpayer foot the bill for a year's incarceration. Brilliant.

    • Yeah, because we are sure he will be able to get a job that pays enough to pay the couple of million it cost to prosecute him and repay the plaintiff for the damages. This is better for him to serve some time than being in monstrous debt for the rest of his life. He will probably be out in a couple of months anyways.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:20PM (#38437564)

    TFA says the jailed guy got the movie on DVD for $5 from some guy in a Chinese restaurant. So the movie was already in commercial, pirate distribution on DVD and the feds did nothing about that. Instead they went after the movie buff who uploaded the DVD for no commercial gain. This sounds more like the usual "war against the internet" than "going after the right person" as the articles propagandistically pretend.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      RTFA, "An F.B.I. spokeswoman said the investigation into who stole the movie in the first place was continuing." The found the person who uploaded the stolen video to a sharing site. That was a criminal act so the prosecuted him. That does not mean that they are not still investigating the situation and are not looking for other people in the chain of custody. Should they not have persecuted him because he was not the only person in the chain?

      There is also a huge difference between a few DVDs available in p

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        There is also a huge difference between a few DVDs available in person at a few select locations and an uploaded file available to anyone with an internet connection. The latter has a much wider audience, is easier to find and has much more impact on the revenue for the film.

        Yes, if the movie's a stinker and they see it's a stinker, they won't shell out the money at the theater and the crappy movie loses money. However, if it's a good movie people will want to see it in its full glory and it will do better

    • by Pope (17780) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:40PM (#38437908)

      Two weeks later, the F.B.I. showed up, having tracked “SkillyGilly” through computer footprints. Mr. Sanchez said he explained what had happened. “Talk to the Korean,” he said he told them. “You keep following leads and you’ll get to a warehouse.” But when the F.B.I. asked if he could identify the peddler, he said no.

      Reading is fundamental

    • Sounds more like, "A senator who is in the MPAA's pocket poked his buddies in the FBI to make an example out of this guy"...
    • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@uberm00. n e t> on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @03:15PM (#38438428) Homepage Journal

      They're prosecuting the low-hanging fruit. It doesn't matter if he didn't cause as much financial harm, he's easy to prosecute and makes a great example.

  • by SGDarkKnight (253157) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:21PM (#38437572)

    "The person who decided to share the movie illegally was tracked down"

    Well, not exactly... the person who first uploaded it was tracked down, not the person who first stole it, copy it, and give it to the Koreans to sell on the street.

    Seems the person to first share it is still out there...

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      And according to the article, "An F.B.I. spokeswoman said the investigation into who stole the movie in the first place was continuing", still being looked for.

  • obligatory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:25PM (#38437676) Homepage

    Here's the obligatory proportions post. How many people have been arrested for the housing market crash thus far? How much monetary damage did those people actually do in comparison to this guy?... yeah.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      So because we don not prosecute the big bad guys we should not prosecute the little bad guys? Sorry that is false logic

      • by doshell (757915)

        You're inferring a statement which is not in the grandparent post. Proportion is a valid way of judging how fair the society we live in is. Where would you rather live: in a society where murder is punished but pickpocketing is not (although formally forbidden), or in one where pickpockets always go to jail while murderers are never convicted?

  • Come to think of it, I still haven't seen this movie. The first one was good, the second OK, the third... well, you get the picture.

    • (Zen wisdom incoming)

      Movie ideas are like tea. You take the leaves and herbs, and you brew them with some hot water, and you get some wonderful tea, and it is powerful and strong, and it will refresh you and invigorate you.

      And you see that the tea was good and you decide to make another cup of tea. You take the same herbs and the same leaves and you brew them with some more hot water. And you notice that the tea tastes bad and stale, and that you should rather wash your feet with it than drink it.

      As for tea

      • by St.Creed (853824)

        As for tea, it is for movies: Throw away the herbs and leaves after using them once and use some fresh ones. Even if that costs a few bucks, but at least you spare yourself the embarrassment of showing that you don't know jack about tea. Or movies.

        Well... in China everyone uses the leaves multiple times. But hey, what do they know about tea, right? :)

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:29PM (#38437752)

    That copy was not ripped from a theatrical release DVD. It was obviously copied directly from a data file in some productions houses' work flow. This guy was just an accessory after the fact. And that "Sanchez explained that he actually bought the movie on DVD for $5 from a Korean man in a Chinese restaurant.". So where does the data originate from?

      Who ever released the original data is the person who needs to spend time in jail, not some patsy who bought a cheap DVD from an anonymous pusher in some shady restaurant dealing.

  • by Sir Realist (1391555) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:37PM (#38437858)

    Look, I don't really follow the Slashdot party line on this one; I think stealing from artists you respect is stupid, because they won't make you more stuff. And Sanchez was an idiot for uploading this thing from the illegal pirated copy he bought. But his punishment does seem disproportionate, and they still got the wrong guy.

    This guy bought stolen goods, and made illegal copies of copyrighted materials. Somebody, somewhere, actually stole the proof from the studio. That is the real crime they should be punishing if they want to stop pre-release pirates. And I won't even bother to point out how effortlessly easy it would be to track copies and identify leaks in this technical audience, because I'm sure you can all come up with half-a-dozen schemes yourselves. If the studios can't be bothered to prevent the leaks or identify and punish the leakers in the first place, why should we care what happens to the leaked materials?

    • by Imagix (695350) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:52PM (#38438076)
      I disagree. I think they got one of the right guys. (Note "one of", not "the" right guy). I don't think anybody could reasonably expect that the guy was dealing with an above-the-board transaction. This guy was willfully distributing stuff the he knew (or any reasonable person would have known) wasn't legit.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      Look, I don't really follow the Slashdot party line on this one; I think stealing from artists you respect is stupid, because they won't make you more stuff.

      This is quite consistent with the "slashdot party line". You should reward the artists you like by spending as much as you can on them. Otherwise they're likely to find more lucrative employment. I don't remember anyone on /. ever saying that you shouldn't spend money on artists you value. Giving money to talented artists is extremely important, w

    • by mark-t (151149)
      I don't want to get into the whole "copyright infringement is not theft" debate, but I'd like to point out that infringing on the copyright of any artist is stupid... at least if one has any respect for anyone's copyright at all, because infringing on one person's copyright damages the value of copyright in general for *ALL* artists, and does not just reduce the theoretical value of the work being infringed. Copyright is, after all, a legally recognized social contract - the artist has (or is supposed to
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@nOspaM.tpno-co.org> on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:44PM (#38437954) Homepage

    It's possibly worth noting that that version was actually more interesting than the final cut.

    • I was pondering that.

      I guess I finally found a really good reason to download bootlegs: They let you see far more interesting stuff than the finished crap.

  • by slashdotresearch_mj (2463842) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:44PM (#38437962)
    Also has anyone else ever seen when the police do a "raid" on the bootleg dvd sellers on Canal Street in NYC? I've seen it happen a few times and the police move as slowly as possible, it seems to allow everyone time to pack up all their shit and escape. Sometimes enough time for people to pack up entire carts and run down the street with them. Not exactly a possibility for this dude, clearly. No idea what the sentence time is for someone caught with pirated material in real life is compared to online possession/distribution, or maybe it's the same?
  • by spirit_fingers (777604) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @03:03PM (#38438246)

    I know what the law says, and I know that he broke the law. But consider this: there was no provable financial harm to the producers of the film. No one was hurt. No one was deprived of anything. Yet, this guy is deprived of his freedom for one year and earns a permanent criminal record. This was a classic victimless crime and I would argue that that makes it no crime at all.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @03:09PM (#38438334) Homepage

    Recently, a Social Security employee was robbed and shot. The shooter, recently released from prison after 9 months "time-served" of a 10 year sentence for armed robbery.

    So armed robbery, and you can be out in less than a year. Upload an unfinished video of a film and it's a year in prison.

    The avg person's well being is meaningless to the Law. But the profits of a stealing mega-corporation, now that the Law is concerned with.

    There is a point where the Sheriff is corrupt, and his badge is nothing more than a bully pulpit.

    • He should be effin' glad the badge isn't seen as the aiming cross. But we're getting there, give it time.

  • Bad analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @03:28PM (#38438598)

    It's more like having a Ferrari with every kind of shielding stripped so you actually get to see how the valves work and how the transmission shifts.

    Personally, I'd almost say that "working copy" is more interesting than the finished movie. But that's the geek in me, I don't like magicians for the same reason: I wanna know how stuff works!

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      While he probably meant it in a derogatory manner, I think most of us would happily accept a new Ferrari lacking only a paint job. I know I would. In fact, I'd probably be willing to spend a year in jail if I got to keep it. Can't say the same for X-Men First Class though...

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