Convicted software pirate Jakub F, a citizen of the Czech Republic, has received a strange sort of reprieve. Although he was ordered to pay in excess of $200,000 in damages as part of a suspended sentence, it looks like the reformed pirate will be off the hook due to a viral YouTube video.
Jakub F is a self-described software pirate from the Czech Republic, where, until recently, nobody had ever been convicted of pirating software. He was accused, and convicted, of disseminating pirated software, like Windows, via forums and other distribution channels.
According to Jakub’s own words, translated by TorrentFreak, he didn’t do it for monetary gain, but to feel like he was contributing something to “the warez community.”
“I thought that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I thought that it didn’t hurt the big companies. I didn’t even do it for the money, I did it for fun.. I felt in the warez community that I meant something. I was convinced that I was too small a fish for someone to get to me. But eventually, they got me. Even for me, the investigators came to work.”
In the first ever conviction of a software pirate in the Czech Republic, Jakub received a stiff sentence. Although the sentence didn’t include jail time, the judge did hand down a three year suspended sentence. He was also required to hand over his computer, hard drives, and other related electronics, and pay some hefty financial damages.
The way that a suspended sentence works is that the convict is required to follow certain guidelines for a specific amount of time. If the guidelines are followed, the judge may then dismiss the sentence.
In Jakub F’s case, he was ordered to pay 5.7 million crowns, which is roughly equal to $223,000. Since he didn’t have the cash, or any way to raise it, Jakub was in danger of violating his suspended sentence.
That’s where the Business Software Alliance (BSA) comes in. In lieu of paying the full 5.7 million crowns, the BSA made a deal with rights holders. Jakub would agree to film an anti-piracy spot for YouTube, and if it received more than 200,000 hits, he would be allowed to pay a much smaller fine.
The video, titled “The Story of My Piracy,” was filmed entirely in Czech, and uploaded to YouTube on November 22, 2015. Within five days, it had already racked up over 600,000 views.
Since there aren’t any subtitles available, you probably won’t get much out of it if you don’t actually speak Czech. You can’t even say you contributed to Jakub’s freedom, since the video hit 200,000 views so quickly.
Whether or not you can actually understand the video, the intent is clearly to scare off potential pirates from following in Jakub’s footsteps. However, it isn’t exactly clear how the video will achieve that.
Comments on YouTube, almost entirely in English, consist mostly of people complaining about rights-holders like Microsoft, or declaring their support for Jakub.
“BSA member companies reached an out-of-court agreement with Jakub F, who had been found guilty of online piracy causing damages worth CZK 5.7 million (£148k),” a BSA spokesperson confirmed to The Guardian. “The district Court in Litoměřice, Czech Republic, sentenced Jakub F. for copyright infringement to three years imprisonment with a conditional suspension of the sentence for three years.”
Jakub F no doubt has a number of other stipulations he will have to follow until the three year suspended sentence he received from a Czech Republic court is over, but with over 600,000 views logged on his viral video, the monetary portion of the sentence seems to be taken care of.
What do you think about an industry body like the Business Software Alliance using the terms of a suspended sentence to drum up viral video views, like was done with this case in the Czech Republic?