Czech software pirate told to notch up 200k hits on YouTube or pay up

27 Nov 2015

Jakub F. In a case of 21st century-style justice, the Czech software pirate has to get 200k YouTube hits or pay a £200,000 fine

A Czech software pirate busted for copyright infringement must be breathing a sigh of relief. He had been told to attract 200,000 hits on YouTube for his apology movie or else face a hefty fine of almost £150,000. Luckily for him, he has soared past 400,000 views.

In the Czech Republic, the Business Software Alliance had decided to punish a software pirate who goes by the name of Jakub F with a massive £148,000 fine if he failed to achieve 200,000 hits on YouTube for a video in which he apologises for his actions.

On a website to promote the YouTube video, Jakub F said: “I had to start this site because I spent eight years spreading pirated software and then they caught me.”

Crime and punishment in the 21st century

Jakub F was caught spreading Microsoft Windows software illegally and had his house raided by police who confiscated his computer, DVDs and an external hard drive, according to TorrentFreak.

He was handed a three-year suspended sentence, but the punishment didn’t end there.

Companies involved in the lawsuit, including Microsoft, HBO, Sony Music and 20th Century Fox, said that Jakub F had caused then $373,000 in damages ($223,000 of this to Microsoft alone), and they wanted their pound of flesh.

Jakub F agreed to star in an anti-piracy public service announcement about his life as a pirate and apologise for his actions in a movie The Story of My Piracy.

In the movie, the reformed pirate says: “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.”

But no one was laughing, and certainly not Jakub F, who had a fine of £200,000 hanging over his head.

“If I promote my story and my video gets at least 200,000 views, I will only serve the general part of my sentence,” Jakub F said.

Luckily, at the time of writing, the video had sauntered past 403,000 hits and counting …

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years