Hyman Strachman -- a movie bootlegger who has ripped everything from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" to "The Artist" -- would be the scourge of Hollywood, but for two reasons: he's 92 years old, and he sends the illegally acquired features to troops serving overseas.
“It’s not the right thing to do, but I did it,” Strachman -- known by the handle "Big Hy" in the bootlegging world -- told the New York Times. "If I were younger, maybe I’d be spending time in the hoosegow.”
Strachman, who lives on Long Island, began his homespun operation eight years ago, following the death of his wife. He doesn't copy actual purchased DVDs, but rather the bootlegged ones that you can pick-up in places like New York's Penn Station. Per the Times, Strachman -- a World War II veteran -- was inspired to send the DVDs to troops after reading on message boards that they were starved for features. He's received hundreds of letters thanking him for the efforts.
Of course, there is the matter of Strachman engaging in a highly illegal activity. The Motion Picture Association of America has cited figures that claim the U.S. has lost $58 billion in revenue because of piracy, which translates to around 373,000 lost jobs. That number has been disputed (as the blog Freakonomics points out, it's hard to estimate piracy losses, because some people who are acquiring pirated material might not have paid for it otherwise), but, whatever the actual figure, it's still a hefty sum.
Still, because Strachman isn't making money off his bootlegging operation -- the DVDs are handed out to troops for free -- the MPAA hasn't come down on him just yet.
"We are grateful that the entertainment we produce can bring some enjoyment to them while they are away from home,” Howard Gantman, an MPAA spokesman, told the Times.
For more on Strachman's amazing story -- and just how much longer he plans on doing this -- head over to the Times.