Monday, February 22, 2010

Make 'Em Walk the Plank!

I'm going to keep this short today.  This weekend I was shocked when I read this article about a man who was given two years in prison for recording The Dark Knight and then selling the cam recording.  I was immediately like, "WTF, Missouri?"

I'm against piracy.  Stealing is bad.  There, I said it.  One day soon I'll write a whole post about why I think people pirate and why it's not their fault (hint: if media companies allowed people to access the media the way they're begging to access it, people wouldn't pirate) but that's not this post.  This post is about why this man's punishment is absurd.

Think about the last two years of your life.  In the last two years, I wrote a book, got an agent, sold that book, and it will soon be coming out.  I also moved and got a dog and took a couple vacations.  This man is now going to spend two freaking years of his life behind bars because he sold a cut rate copy of a billion dollar grossing movie.

I don't know who this guy is, but let me tell you about this place I went to.  In Tennessee, I visited my parents.  They live in a depressed part of TN.  We went to this "flea market" where poor people from the area were selling anything and everything.  Knives, guns, dogs, doll heads.  My mom found a set of expensive silverware that she got for next to nothing.  But there were also folks there selling bootleg DVD's.  Movies they'd cammed and burned to discs.  They didn't have much.  They were trying to make money for food/mortgage/utilities/etc.  Does that make it right?  Heck no, but we're not talking about the kind of place where jobs were plenty.

These people are NOT the great criminal masterminds of our time.  They're petty criminals who are making some unfortunate choices because they're in unfortunate situations.

I say they should absolutely be fined.  Maybe even banned from the movies or having internet.  But jail time?  That's freaking nuts.  Let me put this in perspective.  This is a list of some of the mandatory minimum sentences from Connecticut.

First Degree Kidnapping:  1 year

First Degree Sexual Assault: 2-10 years depending on age and conduct (it depends on whether they say please and thank you?)

Manslaughter with a firearm: 5 years

Computer Terrorism: 5 years

2nd Degree Sexual Assault: 9 months.

2nd Degree Manslaughter with a firearm: 1 year.

Possession of an assault weapon: 1 year

Assault or larceny of elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or mentally retarded person 2nd degree: 2 years.

Driving with a license suspended due to DUI: 30 days.

You see where I'm going with this.  Now, this list isn't meant to be the end all be all.  These are just minimum sentencing guidelines.  Most people get more than this, but it illustrates my point.  Who's the bigger menace?  A guy with a video camera in a Batman movie, or the guy who's driving on a suspended license that got suspended because he was drunk?  The video cam guy isn't going to accidentally take out a whole family in a minivan.  

That's it.  I'm done.  Take from this what you will.  I'm not pro-piracy.  I'm anti-piracy, but the way we're doing things now:  it's not working

BTW, totally sorry if I rambled a lot.  Lack of sleep doesn't work either.


  1. And here in Michigan we're letting criminals (real ones) out early because we can't afford to imprison them anymore.

    I think for the guy's punishment he should have to watch 1997's Batman and Robin starring Arnold as Mr. Freeze and he should have to repeat Arnold's lines in public.

    "My name is Freeze. Learn it well, for it is the chilling sound of your doom."

  2. I think I'd rather go to prison than watch that movie.


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