Under the Radar

Bootlegs for the Troops

"If I were younger, maybe I’d be spending time in the hoosegow."

The New York Times tells the incredible story of 92-year-old WWII vet Hyman Strachman and his unique effort to support the troops by bootlegging thousands of Hollywood DVDs and sending them to troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Strachman duplicates the disks in his Long Island, NY apartment using a professional duplicating machine and estimates that he's sent over 300,000 disks overseas since starting making copies to fill time after the death of his wife in 2003.

More from the Times:

Mr. Strachman has never ripped a movie from a store-bought DVD and does not even know how; rather, he bought bootlegged discs for $5 in Penn Station before finding a dealer closer to home, at his local barbershop. Those discs were either recordings made illegally in theaters or studio cuts that had been leaked.
Maybe Mr. Strachman doesn't have any grandchildren or great-grandchildren who can teach him how to download movies online using the Pirate Bay and BitTorrent. The article also doesn't comment or speculate on the quality of Hyman's copies ,but anyone who's bought DVDs on the street knows that quality control can be an issue. Those copies of The Artist (a movie not yet released on DVD here in the States) might have been shot with an iPhone from the front row of a movie theater.

Let's hope Hollywood lawyers don't start hassling Strachman for violating copyright law. His efforts to relieve boredom on the front is probably one of the great mental health initiatives of modern warfare.

Instead, why don't the movie studios, TV networks and music companies take a cue from Hyman and start loading up portable hard drives with entertainment and sending them around the world? They could work with the USO to handle distribution. It's not that hard. Men and women serving in the field would probably even be willing to put up with a little digital rights management if that makes the lawyers feel better.

In the meantime, props to Big Hy. Check out the full story for an amazing slideshow and audio of Strachman talking about his project.

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