"It's not the right thing to do, but I did it. If I were younger, maybe I'd be spending time in the hoosegow."
So says Hyman Strachman, a 92-year-old, 5-foot-5 World War II vet who has spent the past eight years sending bootlegged copies of first-run movies to American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Known to soldiers as Big Hy, he has copied the movies -- more than 300,000 -- in his small Long Island apartment, then sent them overseas free of charge, and at a personal cost of about $30,000.
"It was pretty big stuff -- it's reconnecting you to everything you miss," said Jenna Gordon, a specialist in the Army Reserve. "We'd tell people to take a bunch and pass them on."
Now, with the wars waning and soldiers returning home, Strachman's shameless violation of domestic copyright laws is winding down, as his chance of being prosecuted. In fact, Howard Gantman, with the Motion Picture Association of America, hinted that Strachman might never have been on Hollywood's radar at all: "We are grateful that the entertainment we produce can bring some enjoyment to them while they are away from home."