Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In trouble for pirating and nearly taking down a major Hollywood picture? Talk to the Korean

The New York Times has an interesting piece on the legal troubles of one Mr Gilberto Sanchez, who faces possible prison time — or a slap on the wrist — for taking an unfinished copy of the movie Wolverine and uploading it to a video-sharing site:
It started in a neighborhood Chinese restaurant. A man he figured to be Korean entered, muttering “DVDs” and “digital” over and over. The sale of counterfeit DVDs is nothing new in New York, or in this corner of the Bronx. “Koreans set up on these sidewalks every day,” Mr. Sanchez said.

At first, he doubted the claim of digital quality, so the peddler popped a copy into a portable player. “I said, ‘Wow,’ ” Mr. Sanchez recalled. He paid $5 and took the disc home.

After watching it with the grandchildren, he made a copy on his computer and posted it on megaupload, where his screen name is “SkillyGilly,” so others could share in the fun and he could get props in the movie-loving community. He ignored a friend’s warnings — “You’re going to get in trouble; it’s not even out yet” — and watched as several other copies surfaced on the site.

At 5 a.m. the next day, that friend called and told him to turn on the TV.

“Fox News is in an uproar for the leak of ‘Wolverine,’ ” Mr. Sanchez recalled. “They’re offering a reward.” By then, he said, his copy of the movie had been downloaded 198 times, at no charge.

He was scared, but did not imagine he would be blamed. “Some employee had it — ‘Hey, take this down to graphics’ — and he stopped off and showed it to his friends,” Mr. Sanchez said. “They made more copies, more copies, until the Koreans had a copy.”

Two weeks later, the F.B.I. showed up, having tracked “SkillyGilly” through computer footprints. Mr. Sanchez said he explained what had happened. “Talk to the Korean,” he said he told them. “You keep following leads and you’ll get to a warehouse.” But when the F.B.I. asked if he could identify the peddler, he said no.
When all else fails, blame the Korean. I'm guessing, though, that "the Korean" Mr Sanchez is talking about is not The Korean. Come to think of it, though, The Korean does live in New York, so maybe he subsidizes his heavy blogging activities by selling illegal DVD copies of popular films on the streets of New York.

I've never been to New York, so I'd like to know: Is this really an industry dominated by Koreans, as Mr Sanchez's story leads me to believe (even if he's making up the person, it would seem that there would have to be some Koreans — or other Asians — heavily involved in this for him to pick a Korean as a source)? Are they legally in country or is this the kind of thing illegal immigrants from the ROK do?

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