[Busted! Photo via p2pnet]
When I think of pirates, I typically think of a.) Jack Sparrow or b.) the men in the Caribbean that may sway drunkenly from too much rum, but actually do raid boats, kill people and are actually scary. When Attorney General Andrew Cuomo thinks of pirates, he thinks of the sketchy guys holding up camcorders in the movie theater and later selling homemade DVDs out of their giant jackets in the streets. Hence the new "Piracy Protection Act" to protect against movie pirating.
Now if you pirate movies, it's classified as an offense, which is the legal equivalent to a slap on the wrist and then a smile on the way home once you pay the fine. It's probably more of a punishment to get your car towed for illegally parking. Now, under Cuomo's new act, it would qualify as a misdemeanor and could lead to jail time. Do you really want to risk that for leaking Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby onto the internets? And! And! Feel you're getting stiffed by New York State and City taxes? You will be happy to know that your diminished paycheck will help to create a special deputy attorney general post to fight intellectual property theft.
I sympathize that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) that they lose an estimated $18.2 billion due to movie piracy, and an unrealistic-sounding $2.6 billion in New York state. First of all, I haven't seen illegal downloading of music disappear once the RIAA started levying huge fines on individual downloaders, so it seems to me like people will take some risk for free stuff. Second of all, memo to MPAA: STOP MAKING TERRIBLE MOVIES! You think I'm going to drop $18 to go see Balls of Fury? NO! There's a reason why the Tribeca Film Festival sold 400,000 tickets and the independent film industry is seeing a strengthened following. There may even be a reason that celebrities like De Niro are using their star power to help fuel these ventures. Because studios drop millions of dollars to make blockbusters, which last time I checked still rake in big bucks at the box office, and the rest of their money goes to low-budget films with painfully bad scripts. Maybe studio execs should figure out a way to fix that…