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Movie piracy: crime and punishment, in one lousy upload

February 1, 2010 |  9:42 pm

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

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