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Piracy Crime Movies United Kingdom

33 Months In Prison For Recording a Movie In a Theater 465

Posted by Soulskill
from the know-when-to-fold-'em dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Philip Danks used a camcorder to record Fast & Furious 6 in a U.K. cinema. Later, he shared it via bittorrent and allegedly sold physical copies. Now, he's been sentenced to 33 months in prison for his actions. "In Court it was claimed that Danks' uploading of Fast 6 resulted in more than 700,000 downloads, costing Universal Pictures and the wider industry millions of pounds in losses." Danks was originally told police weren't going to take any action against him, but he unwisely continued to share the movie files after his initial detainment with authorities.
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33 Months In Prison For Recording a Movie In a Theater

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @09:57AM (#47729377)

    If he deliberately recorded and actually sold physical or digital copies, I have no sympathy for him. Why would I?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @09:59AM (#47729401)

    Yet the banksters who cost the public billions and TRILLIONS have yet to spend a single day behind bars.

  • Not smart (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jratcliffe (208809) on Friday August 22, 2014 @09:59AM (#47729405)

    "Danks was originally told police weren't going to take any action against him, but he unwisely continued to share the movie files after his initial detainment with authorities."

    In other words, the cop had decided to let him go with a warning for speeding, and then, while the cop was walking back to his car, he peeled out and gunned the engine, accelerating as hard as he could.

  • "Unwisely" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by halivar (535827) <bfelgerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:00AM (#47729411) Homepage

    Understatement of the year. This is a sad case of a stupid law intersecting with an incredibly stupid person.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:06AM (#47729489)

    No, the real crime is punishing a non-violent civil offender with violence (i.e. forced into a cage). It only takes a moment of critical thinking to realize that punishing non-violence with violence is a product of injustice, not justice.

  • by just_another_sean (919159) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:09AM (#47729519) Homepage Journal

    I agree he deserves to be punished and I get that he probably doesn't have enough money to pay a fine so it's off to the joint he goes but is 33 months really a fitting punishment here? That's almost three years of this guy's life. And the claim that "millions were lost" has been proven to be exaggerated over and over again. A download does not equal a lost sale; those that download do not buy, they simply go without. I'm not saying that makes it OK, I'm just saying the punishment does not fit the crime.

  • by Wycliffe (116160) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:18AM (#47729621) Homepage

    Why should anyone have control over the copying industry? Free market here would be great IMO.

    I'm all for the free market but it's not the copying that is the problem. The problem is that it takes thousands of man hours
    to produce a movie and all those people want to get paid. If you made copying legal then one of 3 things happen:
    1) Noone produces movies anymore
    2) They figure out another way of paying for the movie (merchandise tie-ins, product placement, etc..)
    3) Metal detectors, etc... at the movie theatre and/or some other way of preventing copying.
    Copying is too hard to enforce and we need a better way. I don't think swat teams and prison is the answer but I
    don't really like the idea of movies being even more corrupted with advertisement either.

    artists can get payed better when not bottlenecked by shitty distributors with monopolies

    That might be so but if copying is legal then the indie film producer has the same problem. They can only sell 1 copy.
    How do you fairly compensate the people who spend the many man hours producing the movie? The movie industry
    isn't perfect by any means and there are plenty of people getting rich who maybe shouldn't but removing all copy
    protection would require movies as we currently know them to cease to exist.

  • by mlookaba (2802163) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:18AM (#47729623)

    the real crime is punishing a non-violent civil offender with violence (i.e. forced into a cage)

    Would you feel the same way if a financial advisor intentionally stole all the money your parents had for retirement? That wouldn't be a physically violent act, but would seem to have consequences that merit punishment other than a fine.

  • by flayzernax (1060680) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:22AM (#47729653)

    In this case the "victim" was granted a monopoly by us. Big difference between fraud and a monopoly abusing a PRIVILAGE we the people granted it and now they are lobbying all over the world to make international criminal law... oh wait.

    This is not a crime and there is no victimization. Nothing is being stolen. The person recording videos just disagrees with what is clearly out of line. It is a civil matter. The worst that can happen in civil matters in the US is one party can force the other into debt or bankruptcy.

  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:22AM (#47729657) Homepage Journal

    I think it's impossible for a government to do anything without at least some real threat of violence behind it. How do you enforce a nonviolent sentence?

    Government: "Pay me a $1000 fine."

    Offender: "No."

    Government: "You're a poo-head."

    Offender: [sobs pathetically] "Ok, ok, I'll pay! Just please, please don't hurt my feelings again."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:28AM (#47729729)

    The dude made the choice. No one put a gun to his head and told him to patiently hold the camcorder up for 2 hours then go home and post the video online.

    If you shoplift, also a non-violent civil offense, you similarly get the opportunity for a few weeks or years of unwanted butt-fucking.

    "The punishment is too harsh for the crime" is your opinion.

    That the man in question made the choice to commit a crime that has an economic impact on a 3rd party is a fact. (Whether he's directly stealing food from the mouths of orphans or just cutting down on some studio exec's blowjob money is irrelevant).

    That the law allows a person who commits a crime to be punished, also a fact.

    What you should really be arguing for is prison reform. My solution would be to create more minimum security arrangements for this kind of crime. Personally I think we should ship anyone who does this kind of crime off to local landfill and make them sort garbage. Pay them minimum wage, require them to work 40 hours a week. Throw them in jail if they don't come to work on time. Be a lot cheaper than putting them in a prison and we get the benefit of more recycling.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:32AM (#47729779)

    Would you feel the same way if a financial advisor intentionally stole all the money your parents had for retirement? That wouldn't be a physically violent act, but would seem to have consequences that merit punishment other than a fine.

    Putting him in jail doesn't solve the problem with my parents retirement.
    Anything that doesn't refund my parents plus something extra for the trouble would be an injustice.
    Whatever, if any, punishment is suitable on top of that is not really my concern. Whatever prevent the financial advisor from doing it again works fine.
    If someone can get away with 6 month for assault and battery then I certainly think that anything above that is way excessive for a white collar crime if it has been repaid.

  • by mlookaba (2802163) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:33AM (#47729795)
    You're arguing about something unrelated to my comment. My point is that sometimes the physical "violence" of being incarcerated is justified for non-physical crimes. That's all.
  • by Aaden42 (198257) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:35AM (#47729829) Homepage

    How do you enforce a nonviolent sentence?

    Easy: By ordering a more compliant entity that has a financial relationship with you to comply on your behalf.

    Government: "Pay me a $1000 fine."

    Offender: "No."

    Government: “Offender’s Bank: Give us $1000 from Offender’s account (by seizing every penny deposited for the next 10 years immediately in priority over EVERY other debit if necessary) plus an extra penalty for non-compliance.”

    Offender’s Bank: “Okay, here’s your money, and BTW we’re taking our own fee for enforcing this, and of course we’ll charge them for every overdraft fee that results from draining their account.”

    Offender: [sobs pathetically] "How am I going to pay my rent or car payment or buy food now?"

    --- Or alternatively if no bank accounts: ---

    Government: "Offender's employer: We're garnishing offender's wages. Give us the next $1000 you were going to pay offender, even if that means he doesn't see a penny for a paycheck for the next two months."

    Offender's Employer: "Okay, here's your money, and BTW thanks for letting us know our employee's a thief. We’ll be looking to replace them ASAP.”

    —-

    See: Civil compliance and no truncheons necessary. There will almost always be someone with more to lose than you and less desire to stick it to the man. They’ll comply so you don’t have to.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:41AM (#47729899) Homepage
    That is an excellent idea. I just hope the unthinkable never happens, and somebody who doesn't have a legitimate bank account and job suddenly decides to be a ciminal!
  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:41AM (#47729903)

    Copyright infringement for money is a criminal offense, fyi.

    Not at Slashdot...

    People seem to miss the point that this was a criminal activity for profit.

    But of course here, entertainment that cost millions of dollars to create must be free.

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:45AM (#47729955)

    >> truly-victimless crime (personally using drugs without any intent to distribute, for example),

    Thats a very naive viewpoint. Just by buying the drugs you're funding the entire drug machine so keeping it rolling, including the bits that hurt innocent people.

  • by shadowrat (1069614) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:46AM (#47729977)

    No, the real crime is punishing a non-violent civil offender with violence (i.e. forced into a cage). It only takes a moment of critical thinking to realize that punishing non-violence with violence is a product of injustice, not justice.

    no, the real crime here is a misleading title that implies he was given 33 months solely for the act of filming a movie with a camcorder.

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:49AM (#47729995)

    Well, that just makes sense. Sure, they cost the public billions and contributed to a vast economic melt down, but they didn't violate COPYRIGHT! Priorities, people!

  • by shadowrat (1069614) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:50AM (#47730027)

    Offender: [sobs pathetically] "How am I going to pay my rent or car payment or buy food now? I guess i'll have to start mugging people."

    FTFY

  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Friday August 22, 2014 @10:59AM (#47730121)

    I agree, it's cheaper and does not encourage prison corporations to side with the copyright lobbies.

  • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday August 22, 2014 @11:05AM (#47730185) Homepage

    He's not in jail for recording a movie; he's in jail for distributing copies and selling them. Selling copies isn't a civil offense; it's a crime. And did you miss the part where he kept selling and distributing even after his arrest? I have pretty liberal views on file sharing, but this guy was asking for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @11:17AM (#47730275)

    and at the same time, you have the police officer that beat my brother into a coma serving no time in prison even though he was found guilty.

    your only a criminal if your crimes are against capitalism and big business.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @11:21AM (#47730311)
    No, he's actually correct. Sometimes physical correction is required. If your neighbor keeps flinging poo in your yard - and you ask them to stop several times and they don't stop sometimes you have to punch them in the nose. We can talk about assault and polite society all you want - but some people will not respond to that and need to get a more immediate and powerful disincentive for their undesirable behavior. Now, in most places you will end up in jail for punching the guy in the nose. It doesn't mean that it wouldn't have been a fast solution to the problem though. It is too bad that judges don't generally have the leeway to say, "well in this case he deserved it, case dismissed".
  • by westlake (615356) on Friday August 22, 2014 @11:37AM (#47730483)

    Would you feel the same way if a financial advisor intentionally stole all the money your parents had for retirement?

    The financial advisor isn't a geek ---

    and the geek should never have to serve hard time.

    That is the argument as it usually plays out on Slashdot.

    Prison sends the message that the white guy with a six or seven figure income will be treated the same as the poor and the black.

    It sends the message that intangible property is still property.

    Something that the geek --- who spends his entire working life inside a digital universe defined by the value given to endless streams of ones and zeroes --- ought to be applauding,

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @11:41AM (#47730523)

    Actually most crimes are not prevented or thwarted by jail or excess sentencing. The reason is that those committing crimes aren't considering the risk or consequence of their actions. The line of thinking that jailing, violence toward (physical abuse, caning, etc), etc will reduce crime is naive, but it is also the line of thinking most people have grown up with and been taught. Other solutions may not necessarily have a significantly better outcome, but without different approaches being attempted its we're probably not going to see a significant reduction in crime.

    What we know has had major impacts in different parts of the world:

    1. Advancements in medicine (drugs) have reduced crime (they have almost eliminated the need for insane asylums)
    2. Banning certain chemicals from gas (has resulted in significant reductions in violent crime)
    3. Reducing the wage disparity between classes (particularly reducing poverty, educational opportunity, and enabling advancement)
    4. Focusing on rehabilitation facilities for drug offenders rather than jail
    5. Legalization of at least low-impact recreational drugs

  • by Sarius64 (880298) on Friday August 22, 2014 @11:54AM (#47730629)

    Damn! If only he had bankrupt an energy conglomerate, dissolved hundred of millions of dollars in pension funds, and legally embezzled 9 figures into personal accounts! He'd have received no punishment at all!

    The fall-out from Enron [economist.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2014 @12:08PM (#47730753)

    Which is why it is unjust. Punishing someone as an example to others is reprehensible.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday August 22, 2014 @12:39PM (#47731159)
    So you're referring to Ken Lay [wikipedia.org] the weasel who was convicted on ten felony counts for his acts as the head of a corporation, but managed to avoid 20-30 years in prison as punishment for his crimes by having a heart attack and dieing. That's the guy you're unhappy got "no punishment at all"? The sneaky bastard planned all along on having a massive heart attack if he was ever convicted of anything as a way of avoiding a prison term, you bet.

    Even though the criminal justice system had to vacate the convictions because he died before his appeals were exhausted (and he couldn't very well assist in his own defense at this point), "civil suits are expected to continue against Lay's estate." In other words, you can't imprison the dead man to punish him (or you could, but it wouldn't be a very effective punishment, deterrent, or rehabilitation effort), but his family can be punished by having money and property taken away from them through the civil courts.

    Nice try.

    At the bottom of the reference I linked to, they mention that there are conspiracy theorists that say that Lay faked his death and he's still alive. Are you one of them? Of all the people who saw his dead body, not a single one of them would come forward to tell his story for the probable six figure payment he'd get? Sure.

    When I saw the headline for this article I could guess that it was biased and incorrect, and I was right. The guy got 33 months in prison not for recording a movie in a theater, he got the criminal sentence for distributing copies for sale. The former could have gone unnoticed and would have harmed nobody, had he not continued to distribute even after he was warned about it.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday August 22, 2014 @12:41PM (#47731177) Homepage

    > Sounds like you're a violent sociopath. Maybe we should cane you if you like that kind of punishment so much.

    A good beating administered by the authorities in a controlled and relatively safe environment will likely do FAR MUCH LESS damage than being locked up with animals and sociopaths for 3 years.

    You simply don't have any clue. You can't relate do doing any kind of hard time. You probably can't even relate do doing a week or a weekend in the local lockup.

  • by nukenerd (172703) on Friday August 22, 2014 @02:31PM (#47732155)

    "civil suits are expected to continue against Lay's estate." In other words, you can't imprison the dead man to punish him .. but his family can be punished by having money and property taken away from them through the civil courts.

    It is not punishing his family. It is restoring them to the status they would have been in if the culprit had not committed his crime. Which is as it should be.

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