Strictly speaking, bootlegging movies isn’t right. Hyman Strachman knows this, and he does it anyway. According to the New York Times profile of the notorious pirate, he’s shipped 300,000 ripped-off movies overseas to the troops — for free.
“Big Hy” is 92 and started bootlegging DVDs in 2004, shortly after his wife died and the wars in the Middle East were just getting underway. According to the profile, he doesn’t even know how to rip real DVDs because he uses bootlegged copies to make duplicates. He started out copying the flicks on his computer, but the operation got so popular amongst troops that he invested in a $US400 duplicator to increase output. Big Hy is himself a World War II veteran and has sent more than 4000 boxes of DVDs to Iraq and Afghanistan covering all the expenses himself. That adds up to a personal cost of some $US30,000.
Big Hy has always been careful to cover his tracks by getting rid of the evidence, and he’s really only come out of the woodwork recently because his business is dwindling now that the American commitment to those wars has been scaled back. Say whatever you want about other pirates, but the movie industry and the feds would be crazy to go after this guy. He’s a hero. [NYTimes]