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