When theaters warn you not to be that Martin Shkreli-looking goon in a hoodie, hunkered in the dark and recording the movie on his cell phone, with the proclamation “THIS IS ILLEGAL,” it turns out they were right!
As long as you do that somewhere around 25,000 times.
Five men from the UK, India, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates (I’ll wait while you find a globe) have allegedly been keeping about 25,000 pirated files on a server in France, and have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, proving that a love of movies can truly bring the world together.
Through that horrible thing called the internet, these men have shared films with anyone and everyone. There’s a chance you may have viewed some of their work. We know that some of the movies and shows included The Walking Dead, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Godzilla. Chances are, though, that any popular work of film you can think of from the past decade or so was in their possession.
Charges include conspiracy, computer hacking, ID theft, and copyright infringement. Apparently, they went so far as to allegedly hack production company websites to obtain files. So it’s a little more invasive than ripping your copy of The Lion King to a tablet, so your kids will shut up in the car.
It’s unlikely that most of these men will reach Los Angeles for trial, but the UK criminal is facing similar charges in his home country.
I hope this serves as a wakeup call to some of you out there. You might think that ripping a movie because you want to make one really funny GIF is all right, but before you know it you’ll be a part of your own international movie piracy syndicate, and by god you’ll be next.