As someone who rents video movies, I am fascinated by the dire warnings that precede the films, such as: "FBI WARNING--FEDERAL LAW PROVIDES SEVERE CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION OR EXHIBITION OF COPYRIGHTED MOTION PICTURES, VIDEOTAPES OR VIDEO DISCS. CRIMINAL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INVESTIGATED BY THE FBI AND MAY CONSTITUTE A FELONY WITH A MAXIMUM PENALTY OF UP TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON AND/OR A $250,000 FINE."
Well, you couldn't ask for a tougher law. The thing that goes through my mind is, how does the FBI find out who is committing this felony and where?
My guess is that the bureau has an FBI movie SWAT squad, made up of its toughest, most decorated agents.
Let us say that the unit is in its ready room, cleaning the machine guns. Suddenly the videotape-warning phone rings. The chief of the squad, J. Edgar Gropnik, renowned for arresting Dirty Fingers Leroy for recording "Casablanca" without permission, picks up the receiver and goes white. When he hangs up he tells his people, "A family named Hackensack is taping 'The Wizard of Oz' in their basement."
"Are you sure?" one of the agents asks.
"Yes. We've been tapping their neighborhood Blockbuster for three months. Everyone move out."
One of the men says, "Are these the same Hackensacks who illegally tape-recorded the Super Bowl game and sold the show to Taiwan last year?"
"Right. The father got five years and was fined $250,000 when his wife turned state's witness.
"This could be the biggest bust the FBI will have this year," the chief tells his men. "I want our snipers to shoot out the fast forward on their video recorders. The backup squad will cover us in Circuit City."
"Chief, we just got a call to go to 123 Rosebush Lane. Someone is taping 'Gone With the Wind.' "
"I can't do anything about it. If they want me to catch every video thief, they are going to have to give me more people.
"Now, men, I want half of you to knock out the cable antenna. The rest will follow me into the basement. Don't fire until I give the signal."
The chief takes his bullhorn and shouts, "Okay, Hackensack, we have you surrounded. Come out with your VHS recorders above your head and throw out the 'Wizard of Oz' cassette face down."
Young Hackensack shouts back, "Don't shoot! We were only taping for private home viewing. We weren't doing anything for a public performance or copying for sale or infringing on a copyright."
"That's what all the videotapers say. I must advise you of your rights. You do not have to speak without a lawyer."
Hackensack says, "I don't understand why the FBI is involved. Why aren't you out catching Chinese atomic spies?"
"We'd rather investigate copyright infringement, where the real criminals are."