Due to my incessant whining about the evilness of big content, it’s easy to forget that despite all the lunacy those guys throw our way, there are also cases where they’re simply very much right. The Columbus Dispatch is reporting on the story of Qiang Bi, who has just been sentenced to jail for two and half years for piracy.
Normally, you’d hear me rant about how the sentence doesn’t fit the crime, how big content is evil and eats babies, how Obama is totally in the RIAA’s pocket, and how we should all stick it to the man by, uh, yeah, how exactly? I honestly actually don’t know (shhh, don’t tell anyone).
Not in this case, however. To me, there’s a massive and crucial difference between individual folk downloading some music, a few films, and some games – and professional pirates who earn massive boatloads of money by turning their piracy into a business. You know, the folks actually selling pirated copies of films, games, and so on.
Bi falls in the latter category. He turned piracy into a business, selling boatloads of pirated games on eBay. He earned USD 367669 with his little business, and got caught by, well, being an idiot – he emailed a spreadsheet detailing his piracy business to his work email address. The FBI’s Cybercrime Task Force and US Postal Inspectors took it from there, leading to his arrest.
He has been sentenced to two and half years in jail, 416 hours of community service, and has to pay a not yet determined restitution amount. He also forfeited the proceeds of the crimes, his house, a car, and computer and electronic equipment.
“I believe at your core you are a good person,” Judge Algenon L. Marbley told Bi, “You made a gross error in judgment […] And it seemed all motivated by greed.” Bi promised to “be a better person” and “never commit another crime”.
Now, this is the kind of piracy authorities should work to combat, with the aid of industry bodies. I’m not sure if the punishment fits the crime here, but that he ought to be punished, that much is clear.