A California man allegedly uploaded Marvel’s Deadpool to Facebook and somehow five million users watched the full length movie, according to documents released by the Department of Justice. FBI officials arrested 21-year-old Trevon Maurice Franklin for the crime of copyright infringement.
The fact that I’m even writing this is a testament to how rarely these cases are actually pursued by the Feds. Copyright infringement arrests for pirating or bootlegging movies don’t happen all the time, though the crimes do. For perspective the most pirated movie in 2011 was downloaded over nine million times and that was six years ago.
Trevon Franklin did more than just upload the movie to a social network: he allegedly distributed more than ten physical copies too, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Yes his actions were illegal, but does he deserve to go to prison for three years? The FBI may be going after low-hanging fruit here.
Attorney Roger Bonakdar, as reported by ABC30, says:
They are trying to send a message with this case, to the community to warn them that there are very serious consequences to something they think is innocuous.
If the message they are trying to send is that these cases will only be pursued when they can assume the suspect is too young or too poor to put up a legal defense – we hear you loud and clear.
Make no mistake: I’m not advocating on behalf of a criminal. I believe in justice. Artists should be paid for their work.
One problem I have with the situation is that the person in question is just some regular dude; we’re not looking at a Hollywood insider who is part of file smuggling ring. If we were — that information would have come out in the two days since he’s been arrested. This is a guy bootlegging discs that contain files he downloaded from the internet. And that’s wrong. It’s just not ‘you might end up in prison for three years’ wrong, if you ask me.
My concern is that the threat of spending three years in a federal prison for posting Deadpool on Facebook seems pretty harsh; in America you can get away with community service for beating up a journalist the day before you’re elected to Congress.