BANGOR – The owner of a local video store chain is writing a book about copyright rules and how he was caught violating the law.
The former owner of the now-closed Edge Video has been convicted of counterfeiting old movies. He sat down with WVII/WFVX on Wednesday to explain how he got into the situation.
“I never felt I was breaking any law at all,” said Doug Gordon, 52, of Mattawamkeag.
“It’s really a complex law and I thought I had everything lined up perfectly right,” he said. “I never expected any kind of criminal thing. I expected there was a risk of being sued by one of the rights holders, if they turned up.”
U.S. Homeland Security agents began their investigation in 2015.
“I thought they were just using the copyright law to come in and look at all my stuff, honestly,” Gordon said. “But I thought they eventually would realize the whole orphan works thing and the fair use and it never happened. And they kept proceeding and proceeding.”
“So I waited a year … and everybody is still selling the same titles on-line so I did it again,” he added.
The pirating began shortly after opening Edge Video in Brewer, the first of three locations.
“We started getting these movies people could not get on VHS and we’d order them on-line and charge them a little bit for doing it,” Gordon said. “That’s when the ball started rolling. I just started researching it and everything I could find pointed me to orphan works and fair use.
“That’s how they were able to do it.”
U.S. District Judge John Woodcock commented on the complexity of the law surrounded orphaned works: Art that is copyright protected but the owner is dead or the rights are in transition.
During the trial, Woodcock said, “It’s not a very well defined concept.”
A jury determined last week that Gordon was guilty of two counts of copyright infringement, as well as mail fraud.
“I’m going to be sentenced, and do some time and then we go from there,” Gordon said. “I’ve actually written most of a book about it about my whole theories about copyright and the ending was going to be the trial and whatever the outcome of that is.”