The Jetflicks indictment: talk about crime not paying.

After reading the indictment that was handed down last week against the eight men who allegedly ran the pirate streaming service called Jetflicks, all I could do was wonder what the hell they were thinking. Between 2007 and 2017, Krisopher Lee Dallmann and Darryl Julius Polo operated Jetflicks as a subscription-based service, delivering tens of thousands of unlicensed audio-visual works to customers around the United States.  So, not only do I want to ask how they imagined they would avoid prosecution while operating inside the U.S., but the following email exchange between Dallmann and a programmer named Louis Angel Villarino (as quoted in the indictment) really makes me wonder why they even bothered …

Dallmann: When Jetflicks starts making crazy $$ in a few months… How much do you need to make to be full-time for Jetflicks only?

Villarino: 120k a year

Dallmann: That’s doable …

Dallmann:  Jetflicks made 750k 3 years ago… 500k in 2015… And a sad 350k last year

Dallmann: If we didn’t have people that took advantage, we’d be awesome.

Assuming this correspondence provides some insight into the enterprise, I am not sure which inscrutable detail to highlight first; but I suppose it would have to be Dallmann’s woeful complaint that customers were “stealing” from Jetflicks by sharing login credentials.  The naïve innocence in his choice of words “took advantage,” implying that he sincerely believed he had an ethical leg to stand on, resonates with the somewhat pathetic revelation that this doomed venture was not even viable enough to provide Villarino with a full-time gig at $120k/year.  

Not that I recommend or condone criminal enterprises, but if one is going to take the risk, it seems like it ought to be with the intent to make some serious money, no?  Operating a media piracy service inside the United States is operating on a time-clock; a criminal indictment will be forthcoming.  So, if the plan does not include reaping several million dollars in a very short time, followed by a flight to a country beyond extradition, then perhaps applying to one of the many tech jobs out there is a better career move.  Some of them actually pay more than $120k per year.

In fact, if I correctly interpolate the evidence cited in the multi-count indictment, it does seem like running Jetflicks was a lot of damn work for not nearly enough revenue.  After all, making sure subscribers receive TV shows in a timely manner when you have absolutely no license to do so requires quite a bit of time and technical skill—not to mention capital expense for servers etc.—that, again, better pay a substantial return considering that a hearty pounding on the door by the FBI is imminent.  Instead, the operators almost seem to h