The news from Hollywood Reporter isn't merely that The Simpsons Movie has been pirated -- it's no surprise that a big summer movie has been illegally copied and distributed, and that you can find bootleg DVDs easily in China. The newsworthy aspect of this piracy, however, is the country where it originated: Australia this time. Twentieth Century Fox traced the source of an illegal online version of the film to a man in Sydney, and had him charged with copyright infringement. The video pirate worked fast: the version was discovered within 72 hours of the animated film's release Down Under. Although the original illegal copy was removed from the Internet even before The Simpsons Movie was released in U.S. theaters, the file had already been viewed or downloaded more than 3,000 times, so you know it's probably still out there somewhere.

What I find amusing is that the guy used his mobile phone to record the movie. How much of a threat to box-office is something that poor in quality? Do people really think, "Oh look, a crummy and barely watchable version of The Simpsons Movie taped off a cell phone ... now I don't have to pay to see it in a theater!" The people I know who boast they can find illegal copies of movies online seem to find these downloads a kind of amusing novelty, and the bootleg files don't appear to have any effect on their desire to see these movies in theaters or on DVD. I can't even stand old commercial videotapes of movies these days -- I can't imagine trying to sit through a cell-phone recording made in a theater.

The Australian who illegally recorded the movie faces up to five years in jail, if convicted. As a longtime fan of The Simpsons TV show, all I can think about is the episode "Bart Vs. Australia" where Bart is sentenced to "the boot" by the Commonwealth Parliament as punishment for international telephone fraud. I know they don't really have "the boot" in Australia, but it would be a delightful irony to watch an online video (perhaps recorded with something higher quality than a mobile phone) of the offending video pirate getting "the boot" from the Prime Minister, or from Rupert Murdoch.
categories Movies, Cinematical