Meet Hyman Strachman, probably the nation's most patriotic movie pirate.
For the past eight years the 92-year-old widowed World War II veteran has sent hundreds of thousands of illegal copies of movies free to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. He burned the DVDs at his apartment on Long Island, knowing full well he was breaking the law, he told The New York Times. He is considered a hero in the eyes of the troops.
Of course, Strachman isn't the only American to devote his time to helping troops. The American Legion and Packages from Home are just some of the organizations dedicated to bettering the lives of men in uniform.
Read the NYT's entire profile of Hyman Strachma here
Movie piracy like Strachman's costs the U.S. economy $58 billion a year, according to an Institute for Policy Innovation figure cited by Freakonomics. More extreme estimates go as high as $250 billion a year, but Freakonomoics concluded that a true figure is impossible to calculate.
Some movie pirates, unlike Strachamn, do get punished. Hana Beshara, a 30-year-old woman known in cyberspace as "Queen Phara," was recently sentenced to nearly two years in prison for running a downloading service for pirated movies and TV shows, according to law.com.
Some in Hollywood have come to believe it's more than just cheap prices that draw consumers to pirated DVDs. At least one copy of the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo DVD appears to be nothing more than a DVD-R with the movie's title written with a black sharpie marker.
Hollywood has long been a morale booster for U.S. troops. The United Services Organization has been sending celebrities to entertain U.S. soldiers abroad for decades.
A spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America expressed gratitude that the industry could provide entertainment far afield, according to the NYT.
It wasn't a salute, but it wasn't a condemnation either.
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