92-year-old WW2 vet pirates thousands of movies for troops

Hyman Strachman, a 92-year-old World War II veteran from Long Island, might be one of the most prolific individual movie pirates alive: he's copied more than an estimated 300,000 bootleg DVDs over the course of eight years. And he's mailed every single one of those discs, at his own expense, to U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, reports The New York Times.

He's known as "Big Hy" by the beneficiaries who are aware of him - some aren't even aware of him at all. However, they are all appreciative of his efforts, which involved up to 60 hours a week of dedicated disc copying at its peak. Strachman sends the troops first-run movies, including titles like "Transformers," "The Hangover," "Gran Torino," "The Artist," "The King's Speech" and more. Grateful soldiers have mailed Big Hy several binders worth of letters and pictures in appreciation.

He does not rip copies from store-bought discs, or download the movies from a source like BitTorrent. Strachman actually buys bootlegged discs from a local dealer near his home, then makes copies of them to blank discs. The movies he buys are usually either illegal recordings made in theaters ("cams"), or studio releases that are leaked in advance.

Strachman originally started out copying one movie at a time with his desktop computer, before obtaining a $400 professional duplicator that can make seven copies at a time. He stuffs 84 discs (seven copies of 12 movies) into a U.S. Postal Service fixed-rate box and mails them to Army chaplains, who Strachman says do not sell the discs and are effective distributors.

A spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America responded to The New York Times' request for a comment with a tempered statement. "We are grateful that the entertainment we produce can bring some enjoyment to them while they are away from home," the spokesman said.

Strachman does not keep any of the copied movies for himself, and destroys the master copies when he's done with them. His operation is also winding down as more troops return from combat missions.

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NeoGamr RE:PLAY April 27th 2012

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the way i see it... those troops are entitled to entertainment when your risking your life over there and being away from your family for a long time to.

ThaCrip said,
the way i see it... those troops are entitled to entertainment when your risking your life over there and being away from your family for a long time to.

Yeah, I'm not really someone who condones piracy or entitlement, but c'mon. These guys are risking their lives so the people making the movies don't have to - would it really hurt anyone to give them a freebie once in a while?

THolman said,

Yeah, I'm not really someone who condones piracy or entitlement, but c'mon. These guys are risking their lives so the people making the movies don't have to - would it really hurt anyone to give them a freebie once in a while?


so is firemen

Good on him, one hell of a guy if you ask me! If the heartless ******* sue him it really shows what kind of person they are!

The MPAA has no problem suing 90 year old grandmas who don't even have an internet connection. I think everyone already knows what kindoff people they are

NoLiMiT06 said,
Good on him, one hell of a guy if you ask me! If the heartless ******* sue him it really shows what kind of person they are!

Well they've already sued dead folk (or rather tried) so I wouldn't put it past them to sue this guy.

I don't doubt that they're just itching to sue the fellow.

I'd like to see what happens when they manage to get on the wrong side of the Department of Defense though.

When I was in Iraq, I never got any bootleg DVDs in the mail. They were, however, sold on post at the "Bazaar", which was a set-up they had where they would allow certain Iraqi civilians on post in order to sell goods such as paintings, rugs, memorabilia, and, amongst other items of questionable origin, bootleg DVDs.

Whilst I can't possibly call what he's morally wrong, he is still breaking the law. If he isn't prosecuted this could open up a whole can of worms where people who have been prosecuted are outraged.

People who share on torrents etc don't financially benefit either, but they're still prosecuted.

The law is the law.

Hardcore Til I Die said,
Whilst I can't possibly call what he's morally wrong, he is still breaking the law. If he isn't prosecuted this could open up a whole can of worms where people who have been prosecuted are outraged.

People who share on torrents etc don't financially benefit either, but they're still prosecuted.

The law is the law.

And that my friend, is called argument through authority.

So MPAA turn a blind eye to this but everyone else is a criminal. Not that I think they should prosecute him, I'm just saying that they're hypocrites.

Simon- said,
So MPAA turn a blind eye to this but everyone else is a criminal. Not that I think they should prosecute him, I'm just saying that they're hypocrites.

In this situation they are screwed no matter what they do.

Simon- said,
So MPAA turn a blind eye to this but everyone else is a criminal. Not that I think they should prosecute him, I'm just saying that they're hypocrites.

Respectfully, I think the term Bounty Hunters would be more appropriate. Myself, I don't think they necessarily *feel* anything, one way or another -- rather than being hypocritical, they just go after the lowest hanging fruit, the easiest cases where they're more likely to make the most profit.

I read the article in The (British) Times today - quite interesting.

One question though to those who know much more than me about this subject:
By not opening up proceedings against him are the MPAA setting up a precedent concerning people who serve their country and pirated goods?

Shikaka said,
He's to old to be arrested anyway now, it would be a pointless waste of time.

He's probably only got a few years left of his life anyways. I see the don't see the point either.

Guinness world records. Oldest man sent to jail...

MPAA can't win this one. If they don't sue, it's going to have an effect on their other lawsuits. If they do, they'll get blasted for suing an old war veteran.

As some people have stated the MPAA would have to go after him or they face having to drop their other cases which are much less "damaging" than this if proven to be true. Right now it's just speculation on how much he distributed but I am sure he did his fair share of copying it and distrbuting it.

I am sure if this becomes a media frenzy a legal team will swoop in and offer their services pro-bono for the exposure.

The MPAA face a public blacklash(as if they haven't already) if they proceed in prosecution or a major setback in their cases if they don't pursue it. We are not talking about an old man who just sent movies to some shop in Russia. We are talking about a patriot who sent it to other patriots to help them escape for a moment their life and death struggles in the Middle East.

Interesting that "Big Hy" only bought bootleg copies -- right there he avoided some of the stuff he could have potentially been charged with... maybe possession of stolen property, assuming they could prove to a jury he knew it was stolen? And that's *if* they could find a jury that would think of convicting the old guy. Then there's the matter of evidence -- who's going to testify that he in fact did send those discs & didn't make the whole story up? I'm not doubting that he did send the discs myself, but that's just my personal opinion -- it's not like an undercover cop bought anything from him, or they documented an available download. All in all I think the case is odd enough that Hollywood will likely leave it alone, & may in fact feel that the dangerous course would be to bring legal action -- there'd be loads of attorneys willing to take his case for free [think of the publicity], & a loss in the courts could set legally binding precedent... if someone argues in another case that they didn't go after Big Hy, all the MPAA etc. has to say is they've not got around to it yet.

Ok wait.. so he can get away with this even for this reason yet everyday people can't even make their own copy of a movie they purchase legally? wow.

sava - he didn't get away with anything yet. Can't jump to conclusions. As far a public opinion they are not saying what he did was right they are just saying they can understand his motive. Public opinion is not always the right opinion but it is a strong voice when it comes to putting pressure on organizations like the MPAA. It will be very hard for them to leave it alone as they have pushed their agenda for a long time now and to let this go would wipe away their years of courtroom arguements.


A spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America responded to The New York Times' request for a comment with a tempered statement. "We are grateful that the entertainment we produce can bring some enjoyment to them while they are away from home," the spokesman said.

Amazing....and they dont go after this guy.

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