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#1 User is offline   neocon316 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:22 PM

At 92, a Bandit to Hollywood but a Hero to Soldiers
By ALAN SCHWARZ
Published: April 26, 2012
NYT

MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. — One of the world’s most prolific bootleggers of Hollywood DVDs loves his morning farina. He has spent eight years churning out hundreds of thousands of copies of “The Hangover,” “Gran Torino” and other first-run movies from his small Long Island apartment to ship overseas.

“Big Hy” — his handle among many loyal customers — would almost certainly be cast as Hollywood Enemy No. 1 but for a few details. He is actually Hyman Strachman, a 92-year-old, 5-foot-5 World War II veteran trying to stay busy after the death of his wife. And he has sent every one of his copied DVDs, almost 4,000 boxes of them to date, free to American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With the United States military presence in those regions dwindling, Big Hy Strachman will live on in many soldiers’ hearts as one of the war’s more shadowy heroes.

“It’s not the right thing to do, but I did it,” Mr. Strachman said, acknowledging that his actions violated copyright law.

“If I were younger,” he added, “maybe I’d be spending time in the hoosegow.”

Capt. Bryan Curran, who recently returned from Afghanistan, estimated that from 2008 to 2010, Mr. Strachman sent more than 2,000 DVDs to his outfits there.

“You’re shocked because your initial image is of some back-alley Eastern European bootlegger — not an old Jewish guy on Long Island,” Captain Curran said. “He would time them with the movie’s release — whenever a new movie was just in theaters, we knew Big Hy would be sending us some. I saw ‘The Transformers’ before it hit the States.”

Jenna Gordon, a specialist in the Army Reserve, said she had handed out even more of Mr. Strachman’s DVDs last year as a medic with the 883rd Medical Company east of Kandahar City, where soldiers would gather for movie nights around personal computers, with mortar blasting in the background. Some knew only that the discs came from some dude named Big Hy; others knew not even that.

“It was pretty big stuff — it’s reconnecting you to everything you miss,” she said. “We’d tell people to take a bunch and pass them on.”

White-haired, slightly hunched and speaking in his Depression-era Brooklyn brogue (think Casey Stengel after six years of Hebrew school), Mr. Strachman explained in a recent interview that his 60-hour-a-week venture was winding down. “It’s all over anyways — they’re all coming home in the near future,” he said of the troops.

As he spoke, he was busy preparing some packages, filled with 84 discs of “The Artist,” “Moneyball” and other popular films, many of them barely out of theaters, to a platoon in Afghanistan.

As for his brazen violation of domestic copyright laws, Mr. Strachman nodded guiltily but pointed to his walls, which are strewed with seven huge American flags, dozens of appreciative letters, and snapshots of soldiers holding up their beloved DVDs.

“Every time I got back an emotional e-mail or letter, I sent them another box,” he said, adding that he had never accepted any money for the movies or been told by any authorities to stop.

snip

Howard Gantman, a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America, said he did not believe its member studios were aware of Mr. Strachman’s operation. His sole comment dripped with the difficulty of going after a 92-year-old widower supporting the troops.

“We are grateful that the entertainment we produce can bring some enjoyment to them while they are away from home,” Mr. Gantman said.


Careful to minimize his malfeasance, Mr. Strachman said he had kept no copies for himself and had destroyed every master disc soon after the new releases came in.

Before long, the sole evidence of his operation will be on his walls and on a little bookshelf, next to his cholesterol-control pills and a few envelopes of farina, where seven three-ring binders overflow with letters and pictures, most addressed to “Big Hy,” from appreciative soldiers.

http://www.nytimes.c...gewanted=2&_r=1
*****

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/04/25/us/PIRATE-slide-MZN9/PIRATE-slide-MZN9-articleLarge.jpg

:salute:
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#2 User is offline   Dean Adam Smithee 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:46 PM

It's stealing, plain and simple... he's giving away property that isn't his to give away.

If the studios and/or distributors want to send free DVDs to the troops, great, I'm all for it. But it's THEIR call, not the call of some jackass with a DVD burner and a copy of DVDDecrypter.

There is nothing - nothing at all - that makes this excusable.
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#3 User is offline   ThePatriot 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 04:51 PM

Stealing for the troops?

I'm surprised so many soldiers willingly accepted stolen goods.

I would have thought something like that would get them in serious trouble. :shrug:
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#4 User is offline   Wyn 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:37 PM

Quote

...whenever a new movie was just in theaters, we knew Big Hy would be sending us some. I saw ‘The Transformers’ before it hit the States.”


How did Big Hy get the movies when they were new to the theaters?
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#5 User is offline   Crawdaddy550 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:48 PM

View PostWyn, on 30 April 2012 - 06:37 PM, said:

How did Big Hy get the movies when they were new to the theaters?


NEVER ask 'da Joooze how dey get stuff done. It ain't good for 'ya. Capiche?
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#6 User is offline   Dean Adam Smithee 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 07:55 PM

View PostWyn, on 30 April 2012 - 06:37 PM, said:

How did Big Hy get the movies when they were new to the theaters?


Probably has a friend who is a projectionist at a local theatre and who misguidedly thinks he's doing a good deed because, you know, it's "for the troops".

(Fair warning: Another old-fart "back in the day" story) I was a part-time projectionest at a small theater in Hobe Sound FL for a while in the early '80s. Even back then it would have been easy *IF* you weren't too concerned about quality. New movies started on thursdays, but usually came in on tuesdays or wednesdays. We typically screened them before showing, usually just me, sometimes also the manager or other staff. During this 'private' screening it would have been SO easy to set up a video camera and make a copy... except than BACK THEN consumer grade camcorders weren't all that good and didn't work all that well in low light - but I gotta assume that camcorders are a lot better now 30+ years later.

Pre-screening a film was part of the job. You had to make sure you put the film together right. Back them, films came in canisters that had several reels. But you didn't show them this way (I understand they DID in the VERY old days, but not by the time I was involved.) What we did was show them in one long reel. It was a reel or "platter" maybe about 4' or so in diameter and sat horizontally. Mechanically, it worked very much like an 8-track tape except larger and open. You fed the individual reels onto the platter one reel at a time, spliced each reel together with clear splicing tape and then marked the splice by touching the EDGE of the film with white shoe polish. Plus you also spliced on whatever trailers or ads you wanted to show. This had two advantages: ONE, you didn't have to change reels in the middle, and, TWO, by operating like an 8-track cartridge all you had to do was turn the projector off at the end and it was automatically ready to start again. At the end of the week you took the film apart, cutting the splices at the white marks, loading back onto the original reels, and handing it back to the distributor to be delivered to next the next theater.

But with this method you HAD to pre-screen a film: mainly to make sure the reels were in the right order. Only a novice would take the last guy's word that Reel #1 was #1, #2 was #2, etc.

I AM CURIOUS: Is it still done that way ? Are "films" even distributed on film anymore ? Or is it all digital these days ? In the corporate world, we do video conferencing on big screens ALMOST theater size with video quality that is ALMOST film quality. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the motion picture industry has caught up.
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#7 User is offline   zurg 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 09:46 PM

View PostAdam Smithee, on 30 April 2012 - 03:46 PM, said:

It's stealing, plain and simple... he's giving away property that isn't his to give away.

If the studios and/or distributors want to send free DVDs to the troops, great, I'm all for it. But it's THEIR call, not the call of some jackass with a DVD burner and a copy of DVDDecrypter.

There is nothing - nothing at all - that makes this excusable.

Get over yourself. This is a feel good story.
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#8 User is offline   Hieronymous 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 09:53 PM

View PostWyn, on 30 April 2012 - 06:37 PM, said:

How did Big Hy get the movies when they were new to the theaters?


Maybe he has friends in China.
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#9 User is offline   Wyn 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:03 PM

View PostAdam Smithee, on 30 April 2012 - 07:55 PM, said:

Probably has a friend who is a projectionist at a local theatre...


That's film, we're talking copying DVDs here. Unless movie theaters now play the movies off of DVDs?

View PostHieronymous, on 30 April 2012 - 09:53 PM, said:

Maybe he has friends in China.



Gotta be it! :lol:
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#10 User is offline   Dean Adam Smithee 

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:45 PM

View PostWyn, on 30 April 2012 - 11:03 PM, said:

That's film, we're talking copying DVDs here. Unless movie theaters now play the movies off of DVDs?


I dunno; What I know about movie theaters is 30+ years old. But even IF movies were still distributed on "film", I could see how with today's camera technology and video editing and DVD burning technology all put together, a person could record a film during a private screening and burn it into DVD. Including chapter markings and all.

It wouldn't be QUITE the same quality of course, but I'll bet a person could get darned close - especially if the final product is just to be shown on a TV or PC rather than a big screen.
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#11 User is offline   satellite66 

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 05:19 AM

At least the guy sent them movies that would play on their DVD players unlike Obama. :biglaugh:
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#12 User is offline   Wyn 

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:09 AM

View PostAdam Smithee, on 30 April 2012 - 11:45 PM, said:

I dunno; What I know about movie theaters is 30+ years old. But even IF movies were still distributed on "film", I could see how with today's camera technology and video editing and DVD burning technology all put together, a person could record a film during a private screening and burn it into DVD. Including chapter markings and all.


Ok, I don't know either. Maybe that' why the article didn't go into it, did want this to get any bigger than it already is!
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#13 User is offline   Wyn 

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:10 AM

View Postsatellite66, on 01 May 2012 - 05:19 AM, said:

At least the guy sent them movies that would play on their DVD players unlike Obama. :biglaugh:



Excellent!! :lol:
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#14 User is offline   Jeffersonfan 

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:31 AM

It said in the article that these are DVDs someone recorded in the theater or studio cuts that leaked.

He never ripped a store-bought DVD.
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#15 User is offline   Wyn 

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:50 AM

View PostJeffersonfan, on 01 May 2012 - 09:31 AM, said:

It said in the article that these are DVDs someone recorded in the theater or studio cuts that leaked.

He never ripped a store-bought DVD.


:doh:

RTFA Wyn!!
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#16 User is offline   USNRETWIFE 

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:53 AM

View PostAdam Smithee, on 30 April 2012 - 07:55 PM, said:

Probably has a friend who is a projectionist at a local theatre and who misguidedly thinks he's doing a good deed because, you know, it's "for the troops".

(Fair warning: Another old-fart "back in the day" story) I was a part-time projectionest at a small theater in Hobe Sound FL for a while in the early '80s. Even back then it would have been easy *IF* you weren't too concerned about quality. New movies started on thursdays, but usually came in on tuesdays or wednesdays. We typically screened them before showing, usually just me, sometimes also the manager or other staff. During this 'private' screening it would have been SO easy to set up a video camera and make a copy... except than BACK THEN consumer grade camcorders weren't all that good and didn't work all that well in low light - but I gotta assume that camcorders are a lot better now 30+ years later.

Pre-screening a film was part of the job. You had to make sure you put the film together right. Back them, films came in canisters that had several reels. But you didn't show them this way (I understand they DID in the VERY old days, but not by the time I was involved.) What we did was show them in one long reel. It was a reel or "platter" maybe about 4' or so in diameter and sat horizontally. Mechanically, it worked very much like an 8-track tape except larger and open. You fed the individual reels onto the platter one reel at a time, spliced each reel together with clear splicing tape and then marked the splice by touching the EDGE of the film with white shoe polish. Plus you also spliced on whatever trailers or ads you wanted to show. This had two advantages: ONE, you didn't have to change reels in the middle, and, TWO, by operating like an 8-track cartridge all you had to do was turn the projector off at the end and it was automatically ready to start again. At the end of the week you took the film apart, cutting the splices at the white marks, loading back onto the original reels, and handing it back to the distributor to be delivered to next the next theater.

But with this method you HAD to pre-screen a film: mainly to make sure the reels were in the right order. Only a novice would take the last guy's word that Reel #1 was #1, #2 was #2, etc.

I AM CURIOUS: Is it still done that way ? Are "films" even distributed on film anymore ? Or is it all digital these days ? In the corporate world, we do video conferencing on big screens ALMOST theater size with video quality that is ALMOST film quality. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the motion picture industry has caught up.

The movie theater in my home town may go out of business because they still use film and projectors. Many more movies are distributed digitally now than on film and it is so expensive for theaters to convert. The town is very small and it's their only theater and they are doing fundraisers to try and raise the money to convert it. I believe their goal was somewhere in the range of $70,000. A lot of money for small towns and old theaters.
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#17 User is offline   tcotrel 

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 05:26 PM

View PostAdam Smithee, on 30 April 2012 - 07:55 PM, said:

Probably has a friend who is a projectionist at a local theatre and who misguidedly thinks he's doing a good deed because, you know, it's "for the troops".

(Fair warning: Another old-fart "back in the day" story) I was a part-time projectionest at a small theater in Hobe Sound FL for a while in the early '80s. Even back then it would have been easy *IF* you weren't too concerned about quality. New movies started on thursdays, but usually came in on tuesdays or wednesdays. We typically screened them before showing, usually just me, sometimes also the manager or other staff. During this 'private' screening it would have been SO easy to set up a video camera and make a copy... except than BACK THEN consumer grade camcorders weren't all that good and didn't work all that well in low light - but I gotta assume that camcorders are a lot better now 30+ years later.

Pre-screening a film was part of the job. You had to make sure you put the film together right. Back them, films came in canisters that had several reels. But you didn't show them this way (I understand they DID in the VERY old days, but not by the time I was involved.) What we did was show them in one long reel. It was a reel or "platter" maybe about 4' or so in diameter and sat horizontally. Mechanically, it worked very much like an 8-track tape except larger and open. You fed the individual reels onto the platter one reel at a time, spliced each reel together with clear splicing tape and then marked the splice by touching the EDGE of the film with white shoe polish. Plus you also spliced on whatever trailers or ads you wanted to show. This had two advantages: ONE, you didn't have to change reels in the middle, and, TWO, by operating like an 8-track cartridge all you had to do was turn the projector off at the end and it was automatically ready to start again. At the end of the week you took the film apart, cutting the splices at the white marks, loading back onto the original reels, and handing it back to the distributor to be delivered to next the next theater.

But with this method you HAD to pre-screen a film: mainly to make sure the reels were in the right order. Only a novice would take the last guy's word that Reel #1 was #1, #2 was #2, etc.

I AM CURIOUS: Is it still done that way ? Are "films" even distributed on film anymore ? Or is it all digital these days ? In the corporate world, we do video conferencing on big screens ALMOST theater size with video quality that is ALMOST film quality. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the motion picture industry has caught up.


Go here for some info on the controversy.
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#18 User is offline   Wyn 

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 06:44 PM

View Posttcotrel, on 01 May 2012 - 05:26 PM, said:




That was interesting, thank you.
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#19 User is offline   ASE 

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 06:54 AM

View PostAdam Smithee, on 30 April 2012 - 03:46 PM, said:

It's stealing, plain and simple... he's giving away property that isn't his to give away.

If the studios and/or distributors want to send free DVDs to the troops, great, I'm all for it. But it's THEIR call, not the call of some jackass with a DVD burner and a copy of DVDDecrypter.

There is nothing - nothing at all - that makes this excusable.

Fine... then YOU go have him arrested.
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#20 User is offline   neocon316 

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 08:28 AM

View PostAdam Smithee, on 30 April 2012 - 07:55 PM, said:

Probably has a friend who is a projectionist at a local theatre and who misguidedly thinks he's doing a good deed because, you know, it's "for the troops".


I AM CURIOUS: Is it still done that way ?



Close... I've had discussions with the RN "higher up" about bittorrents but to simplify: we are in a digital age where each region in the world will receive a copy a show, series, movie etc. and the receiving party can pretty much do what it wants, meaning upload to warez, torrent clients etc and release it to the public for easy download. Did you know that right now, a region 5 version of 21 Jump Street is currently available? Not Cam, a region 5 version uploaded by some dude in eastern Europe. That's how Big Hy grabs it, and when some GI said that he received the Transformers 3 movie before it was shown in the States. technically he may be correct as it was shown around the globe almost within the same week. BUT it must have been a CAM version that was pre-edited with good sound codecs to adjust the quality of it. Our resident lib from TX downloads Game of Thrones using the same process..
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