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The kindly face of movie piracy
April 27, 2012 6:39 AM   Subscribe

At 92, Bandit to Hollywood but Hero to Soldiers (SLNYT) - not the typical face you'd expect to see when you hear that somebody has distributed something like 300,000 bootleg DVDs.
posted by antifuse (47 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Remember: Piracy support terrorism imperialism.
posted by pompomtom at 6:43 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Howard Gantman, a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America, said he did not believe its member studios were aware of Mr. Strachman’s operation. His sole comment dripped with the difficulty of going after a 92-year-old widower supporting the troops.

“We are grateful that the entertainment we produce can bring some enjoyment to them while they are away from home,” Mr. Gantman said.


Nelson Muntz: Ha Ha!
posted by jmccw at 6:46 AM on April 27, 2012


Remember: Piracy supports terrorism imperialism.

Remember also: Not pirating supports hollywood imperialism.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:46 AM on April 27, 2012


Request For Proposal (MPAA, DOJ): Long-term prison facility that can hold an individual for 300,000 years
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:48 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Never fear, Hollywood will get its revenge by stealing his story and turning it into a hit movie.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:50 AM on April 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


The best thing about this is Hollywood can't do anything to him without looking like total assholes.

Also he should get a medal for using the term 'hoosegow'.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:56 AM on April 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


Never fear, Hollywood will get its revenge by stealing his story and turning it into a hit movie.

He totally looks like that old dude from UP.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:57 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are some questionable details in that article (they were watching Transformers before it was in the theaters in the US?) so I'm not sure I believe the numbers being quoted. That said, good on this guy, I guess?
posted by inigo2 at 6:59 AM on April 27, 2012


There are some questionable details in that article (they were watching Transformers before it was in the theaters in the US?) so I'm not sure I believe the numbers being quoted. That said, good on this guy, I guess?

The major, really high level pirates have pretty much every first run movie pre-release on private, invite only servers. If this guy has access to those releases, he's (a) waaaaay more technically savy than any other 92 year old on the planet and (b) probably going to get his access to those servers revoked after this article, or lead the authorities right to his pirate ring. The high level 0-day release groups are the ones Hollywood and the FBI really care about, the heads of the pirate distribution pyramid.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:07 AM on April 27, 2012


'The Artist'? Poor bastards, as if things aren't bad enough over there.
posted by unliteral at 7:11 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Damn. It's (ahem) theoretically possible that I've violated some copyright laws when shipping stuff to troops overseas when I've done 'books for soldiers' stuff, but clearly, I am a rank fuckin amateur. Good on him.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:13 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


So much win right there. That jar is overflowing with win. The win spreads out across the floor and into the streets.

If they prosecute him it's a PR disaster, I believe him when he says he made no profit from it, he's doing his best to ensure it isn't sold once it arrives by giving it to clergy staff and so on, he doesn't keep them for himself, and he's destroying his master disks after the run is complete. I mean... yea. Good on the guy, he had to do something once they got through filming UP right?
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:18 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


probably going to get his access to those servers revoked after this article, or lead the authorities right to his pirate ring.

Article says he buys his "master" disc from his local barbershop.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:27 AM on April 27, 2012


If this guy has access to those releases

It says in the article that he knows a guy... that he used to buy bootleg disks in Penn Station, and then found someone closer. So it's someone else with good connections, and then he just copies whatever they've done. Sounds like some of them must 'screeners' -- camera recordings of movie screens. Those are pretty lousy, but if you're really desperate to see something, it's better than nothing.

I also have to say: what a thoroughly great guy.
posted by Malor at 7:30 AM on April 27, 2012


Malor, that's not what a screener is. But yeah, they are probably screeners.
posted by idiopath at 7:37 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The major, really high level pirates have pretty much every first run movie pre-release on private, invite only servers. If this guy has access to those releases...

I don't think people realize how quickly the popular stuff moves downstream. We're talking minutes. With movies, the trick is getting hold of a screener (usually watermarked these days) or an actual studio file (rare) beforehand. But once that's done, it could easily be on the street in an hour or two.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:46 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This man is a hero. Not just for the piracy, although that'd be enough -- but for returning the word 'hoosegow' to the American consciousness.

This article made my morning.
posted by cmyk at 7:51 AM on April 27, 2012


in black grandpa shoes and blue suspenders that hoisted his trousers up to his sternum

Check out the photos -- if anything, this description is downplaying how far he hikes up his pants.
posted by Forktine at 7:53 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


how far he hikes up his pants

Old-hand pirates know the importance of high-water markers.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:54 AM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Howard Gantman, a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America, said he did not believe its member studios were aware of Mr. Strachman’s operation. His sole comment dripped with the difficulty of going after a 92-year-old widower supporting the troops.

“We are grateful that the entertainment we produce can bring some enjoyment to them while they are away from home,” Mr. Gantman said.
You can just taste the ashes. :)

Mr. Strachman's a hero. Good for him. And thanks very much for posting this. It made my morning!
posted by zarq at 7:56 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where's our obligatory "the soldiers don't HAVE to watch those movies right now" comment?
posted by phearlez at 8:05 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


If Hollywood was smarter, they would have been sending out the discs themselves, just for the PR value.
posted by fings at 8:08 AM on April 27, 2012


If Hollywood was smarter

This is in my top ten list for biggest IFs ever. Right up there with "If people could just be kind to each other..." and "If politically entrenched people could just listen to the other side..." and "If parents would understand that kids are durable..." and the like.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:13 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


fings: "If Hollywood was smarter, they would have been sending out the discs themselves, just for the PR value."

Well, to be fair, they've been sending reels and projectors to soldiers for every military conflict the US has been involved with since WWII. I don't think they publicize it all that much, though.
posted by zarq at 8:34 AM on April 27, 2012


That's very true, zarq, but also very outdated. The main reason the studios send them that way is because it's nearly impossible to pirate a projected film in a war zone. I find it absolutely ridiculous that we trust these men and women to fight our wars, but not have DVD copies of our films.
posted by BrianJ at 9:01 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


“I can think of no one more deserving than you, and no one who understands what this flag stands for and means to our veterans.”

What are we fighting for again?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:01 AM on April 27, 2012


I was going to say something snarky about how I hoped the studios would go after him and suffer the PR disaster that would ensue.

Then I thought about it and realized that I really hope that no one ever fucks with him and that he will be able to enjoy the letters of appreciation from the the soldiers he helped until the end of his days.
posted by double block and bleed at 9:01 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Q3. Have you banned U.S. troops from buying pirated movies?

Pirated movies in Iraq (PDF - QuickView
posted by mrgrimm at 9:05 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The traveling terabyte is a project of the hacker community that began in the summer of 2006 ... the project has grown substantially and now touches the lives of numerous servicemen and women ...

From a technical standpoint, the project consists of outfitting very large hard drives and flash drives capable of operating in a wide range of environments. These drives are then secured in damage-resistant packaging, filled with entertaining content, and circulated among the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

posted by mrgrimm at 9:06 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Those discs were either recordings made illegally in theaters or studio cuts that had been leaked. "

So, there you go.
posted by kenko at 9:16 AM on April 27, 2012


Well, to be fair, they've been sending reels and projectors to soldiers for every military conflict the US has been involved with since WWII. I don't think they publicize it all that much, though.

You can't possibly believe this is useful.
posted by odinsdream at 9:54 AM on April 27, 2012


I have friends who are serving. I'm not sure how you'd define useful. But they do appreciate being able to see movies, yes.
posted by zarq at 10:23 AM on April 27, 2012


That "Traveling Terabyte" project is FANTASTIC.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:20 AM on April 27, 2012


For accuracy in our discussion, pirated movie release types.

zarq: Well, to be fair, they've been sending reels and projectors to soldiers for every military conflict the US has been involved with since WWII. I don't think they publicize it all that much, though.

Heh, using the same (general) technology since WWII. Perhaps they could do what Epic Records Group did in 2002: send promotional discs in CD players that are glued shut with headphones glued into the line-out jacks. Seriously.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:29 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have friends who are serving. I'm not sure how you'd define useful. But they do appreciate being able to see movies, yes.

I meant more useful that a box of DVDs.
posted by odinsdream at 11:40 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: "Heh, using the same (general) technology since WWII. "

The first digital projector installed at an overseas military installation was at a base in Kuwait in 2008. A bit of googling of various USAF and US Army bases seems to show that a bunch on friendly soil have digital projectors and movie theaters. There are several services that also provide live TV programming to soldiers. I don't know if the experience is different for soldiers who are close to combat areas.

Would handing out DVD's be more convenient for soldiers on the front lines of a war? Probably. But I was responding to a comment that basically said they should be handing out the discs themselves for PR purposes -- and I'm not convinced they should reasonably be expected it necessary (without being asked, of course,) when they are already supplying films to the military to show to those who are serving.
posted by zarq at 11:50 AM on April 27, 2012


...'they should reasonably be expected to think it necessary....'

Typo, sorry.
posted by zarq at 11:51 AM on April 27, 2012


Proper studio response:

"Dear Mr. Strachman,

It has come to our attention that using your own time, money, and ingenuity, you have been responsible for making literally hundreds of thousands of copies of our movies for the use and enjoyment of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. While we cannot condone your methods, we applaud your motives. We do not intend to pursue any legal action for your past copyright infringement. Instead, we want to bring your patriotic actions into the light.

We hereby invite you to be our guest of honor at a dinner in your honor. There we would like to celebrate with you and some of the many troops that have enjoyed our work through you.

We also have a job offer for you. We would like you to continue your work in supporting our troops by distributing more of our movies to them, free of charge. We will supply you with as many high quality DVDs of all of our major releases and all we ask is that you continue to send them on to our troops until they are home, safe.

Thank you,
*******"
----

The studios gain a small amount of copy protection by sending protected DVDs, the troops get better quality disks and the loyalty of a huge number of young people that might otherwise just go home and rip off as many movies as they want through the Internets, and Big Hy just keeps on trucking. Never going to happen, but I can dream.
posted by Muddler at 12:02 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This man is a hero. Not just for the piracy, although that'd be enough -- but for returning the word 'hoosegow' to the American consciousness.

That line alone was enough to make me want to post the story here. :)

There are some questionable details in that article (they were watching Transformers before it was in the theaters in the US?) so I'm not sure I believe the numbers being quoted.

I haven't been following the piracy scene very closely, and particularly not with Transformers (because, duh), but it's certainly not without precedent for films to show up on the net before they're released in theatres. The workprint of Wolverine is one example that sticks out in my head. And I recall watching the original American Pie on "a friend's" computer before it was out in theatres.
posted by antifuse at 12:04 PM on April 27, 2012


Sounds a bit nuts really. Is there really nothing better to do with your time and money? Its just so absurd.
posted by mary8nne at 1:00 PM on April 27, 2012


At 92 years old, what else would you suggest? Marathons, perhaps? Rock climbing?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:14 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps they could do what Epic Records Group did in 2002: send promotional discs in CD players that are glued shut with headphones glued into the line-out jacks.

From that article:

"Gil Kaufman, a freelance journalist in Cincinnati, said he owns a prerelease copy of Radiohead's 1997 album ''OK Computer' that is glued into an Aiwa player -- an Aiwa analog cassette deck."

I would give a good, oh, $100 for that cassette player. EBAY IT, GIL!!!
posted by mrgrimm at 1:49 PM on April 27, 2012


Sounds a bit nuts really. Is there really nothing better to do with your time and money? Its just so absurd.

Seriously, he could spend all that time posting on internet message boards.
posted by inigo2 at 2:18 PM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sounds like it also gave him a sense of purpose in life after his wife died.
posted by epersonae at 2:46 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there really nothing better to do with your time and money? Its just so absurd.

Because doing something kind is absurd?
posted by runningwithscissors at 5:12 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem with this is that in a sense it furthers the notion that normal laws and rules do not apply to people in the Armed Forces. That it is OK for some old chap to engage in illegal activity on quite a large scale - as long as its for the benefit of the troops.

What if instead of the latest blockbusters he was sending bootleg copies of hardcore porn DVDs, I"m sure they are also in high demand by the troops abroad. Would he still be a hero?

The implicit acceptance of this lawlessness could have some link to the general lawlessness and abuse of the civilian population in the current warzones.
posted by mary8nne at 11:50 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


mary8nne: "What if instead of the latest blockbusters he was sending bootleg copies of hardcore porn DVDs, I"m sure they are also in high demand by the troops abroad. Would he still be a hero?"

He'd certainly never have to pay for his drinks again at any VFW or American Legion.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:57 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


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