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Movie piracy: crime and punishment, in one lousy upload

Here in Hollywood, we know what a costly, kick-in-the-bottom line crime movie piracy is.

Sony Pictures just announced that it's laying off 450 people -- about 6.5% of its global workforce -- in part because of the ravages of movie piracy.

All that being said, I still couldn't get my head around another news story du jour: an Irvine man pleading guilty to a federal felony for pirating a movie before it was even released.

The movie he illicitly uploaded? ''The Love Guru.'' It's a dreadful [and not even entertainingly dreadful, just dreadful] over-sexed, gastrointestinally repugnant Mike Myers enterprise that won three Razzies, for the worst screenplay, worst actor and worst film of 2008.

Why would anyone risk getting busted to pirate this dreck? It reminded me of the legends of those protracted New York City garbage collector strikes, when residents cleverly gift-wrapped their trash to look like presents and left it in their unlocked cars for thieves to pinch.

Last year, a Porter Ranch man was sentenced to six months in the federal pen for his part in the piracy. Imagine having to tell your fellow inmates, drug dealers, swindlers and major miscreants, that you're serving Uncle Sam slammer time for stealing ''The Love Guru.'' It's like Arlo Guthrie in ''Alice's Restaurant,'' confessing to his hard-core jail mates that he'd been busted for littering. 

That man blamed his grandma for handing off his illicit DVD to naughty, naughty people who eventually posted it online, where it got about 85,000 views. Judging by ''The Love Guru'' box office, many of those viewers presumably then warned off the paying public -- which proves how damaging piracy is to the movie biz, even for a flop. 

The Irvine man is expected to be sentenced to three years' probation, which is nonetheless probably a lighter sentence than having to sit through ''The Love Guru.''

-- Patt Morrison


Comments () | Archives (9)

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I agree with piracy. Everyone does it in the ghetto, because the poor don't have enough money to pay for a 10$ movie ticket per each family member but they do have enough to buy 2$ DvDs. It's just piracy, why not go after rapists, not pirate video makers? Besides it's not like it's going to mess with Mike Myer's financial problems...wait... he has no financial problems. Also why care about Sony? That company helps no one, just helps the poor get poorer.


@Blopert: there are bigger consequences than providing a little extra cash to a kid in the 'ghetto'--and the going price for bootlegged cds is more like $5.00. i know, i made the mistake of buying Michael Jackson's This Is It before it was released. The video was murky, the sound was okay but i hear a lot of spanish being spoken in the room where it was being recorded and someone walked in front of the camera lens at one point. I later read that Mexican cartels have become the leading producers of bootleg cds. ergo, my little street purchase translated into support for vicious criminals who massacre people. and people who are poor have usually dropped out of school.


@Tara: You must be a middle class woman, the poor who have dropped out of school are told they were worthless. They were told over many years, "You won't make it. Idiot." or harsher words and they believed it. In my neighborhood we look out for each other. And if we see a man selling Dvds they usually are worth the buy and good quality, and we know mostly all the bootleggers in South Central. You may believe what the media says, but the reason we have drug cartels is because of America's Men In Blue and Black. You shouldn't believe what all news says. The F.B.I., C.I.A., and some of the police are all behind the chaos. ViVa películas pirateadas!


they should have thrown the judge in prison for such a stupid ruling

Ryan Georgieff

@ Bo You agree with piracy! and why care about Sony the company that made VHS DVDs blu-ray psp playstation and other technology that people enjoy! You don't want to see it don't buy it! You don't want to pay then don't! You want to take the bread out of other peoples mouths get bent! How is it that you think that a global company like Sony which employee more people then are in South Central is making poor people poorer. By employing people? By shoveling trucks of money to welfare and social security like all business do?

Think about this the DVD that pirate is selling you can get free online. He is just playing you. only cost him 5 cents you gave him 2 dollars.

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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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