Some dude’s about to walk the Green Mile. From the Hollywood Reporter:
Gilberto Sanchez, who said he bought a copy of the 2009 Hugh Jackman superhero movie on a street corner near his home in the Bronx, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow, who described his actions as “extremely serious.”
“The federal prison sentence handed down in this case sends a strong message of deterrence to would-be Internet pirates,” U.S. attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said in a statement. “The Justice Department will pursue and prosecute persons who seek to steal the intellectual property of this nation.”
The Sanchez case received a ton of attention in 2009 because the unfinished print of the entire Wolverine film had appeared online about a month before its theatrical release. The 20th Century Fox movie ended up grossing $373 million worldwide, leading some observers to debate whether the leak impacted (or even added to) its overall performance.
Huh. Well, let’s talk about THIS!
Even if you have a genuine moral opposition towards the illegal downloading of other people’s intellectual property, which you should, at least somewhat, because to a certain extent it is definitely hurting someone whose work you probably appreciate and admire, that probably doesn’t stop you from doing it. Because everyone is doing it. The overwhelming belief that everything should just be FREE now is as pervasive and intractable as it is unrealistic and unsustainable. But the difficult truth of the matter is that for as much as we like to think that we’re robbing artists of their incomes, it’s not the artists we actually need to worry about, insofar as even if the whole thing collapses, someone, somewhere, will still make a thing. The will to create and to express oneself has been going on (oh boy, no duh) for a lot longer than there were iPods and torrent sites. Obviously. At least until we tear the whole system to the ground, the people we actually do need to take into consideration are the corporations that provide the distribution system. Because we do like a lot of the movies and the TV shows and the books and the music that they are financing. But they’re goal has nothing to do with entertaining us or making the world a more interesting place. It’s just about money. And if they stop making money, they will stop investing in these properties. And if they stop investing in these properties, we will no longer have access to them. And that would be a bummer.
I don’t feel pity for businesses. I’m not crying tears for them. But I do think we need to take into account what the actual ramifications are for bankrupting them by refusing to pay for their products. It means no more products. And we love products! (One might then try and point to the Louis C.K. self-distributed stand up special as an example of an alternative, profitable, and artist-friendly distribution model but I think this is unrealistic. For one thing, that works for Radiohead and the world’s most popular stand up comedian of the moment, but a “pay what you will” structure isn’t going to work for a band you’ve never heard of, or a Television show. On that same note, even Louis C.K. said he’d like to make a movie but that in order to do so he’d have to make 8 million dollars off of an additional special in order to make a movie. A) sure, but, you know, OK, and b) 8 million dollars isn’t even that good of a budget for a movie, but it’s so much money to wring out of a 5$ torrent. The idea of individuals creating self-financed and self-distributed stand up specials in order to fund the art of filmmaking is not how that is going to happen. Just as an example.)
So, it’s a problem. IN CASE YOU WEREN’T AWARE.
But then we get to this dude who is going to federal prison for a year and it’s like OH BROTHER. I’m not condoning what he did. He sounds like a real doofus. Not only did he upload the movie to a torrent site, but apparently he went around to other sites and excitedly posted about what he’d done. C’mon son! Even if we all download things illegally (and I am just kidding about that by the way, your honor, I have never done that and I was joking) we also all know that you’re not really supposed to and would probably be a little more careful about patient-zero-uploading a movie to the Internet a month before the movie was even released. (It somehow seems worth pointing out that Gilberto Sanchez is 49 years old. For some reason that makes this story even sadder to me, even if he should have known even better.)
But a year in prison! In full light of the fact that the movie went on to make 373 MILLION dollars. Some sad dude in the Bronx fumbling a misguided attempt to literally be the “cool kid on the block” for a day is going to prison for something that we could confirm prior to sentencing was in no way financially detrimental to the plaintiffs. Gross. It’s gross! Occupy Gross Street. 373 MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS. That is SO MANY. Luckily, though, I’m sure using this case to make an example of this man to show people that illegally downloading is a crime has worked and no one will ever do it again. So never mind, actually. PROBLEM SOLVED.