Friday, December 11th, 2009
In case you haven't heard, a young woman was arrested for recording a portion of Twilight: New Moon at Muvico's Rosemont, Illinois theater. After two weeks of the expected misinformed commentary in the press and on the Internet, the charges were dismissed today.
A Twilight fan site notes Summit Entertainment's reaction:
In regards to the situation with Samantha Tumpach, we applaud Muvico for upholding the zero tolerance policy on piracy when the incident occurred at their theater in Rosemont, IL. The pirating of films is a very serious issue and we all need to remain vigilant to protect the art of film and the myriad of businesses that the film industry supports. We believe that the attention that this incident has drawn, has served as a reminder to us all that any form of film piracy, or perceived piracy, will be treated with the utmost seriousness. Summit is pleased that all charges against Ms. Tumpach have been dropped and appreciate the efforts of the police and the prosecutors in this outcome.
Muvico also release a statement reading, in part:
Muvico will continue to enforce the “zero-tolerance policy” adopted by the MPAA and fully supports anti-piracy laws and the motion picture industry’s efforts to protect against copyright infringement. Under the law, any unauthorized audio or visual taping in a movie auditorium while the feature film is playing, regardless of the length of recording, is a federal and state offense that Muvico is compelled to report.
While Muvico stands by its action in this instance, it is happy that the judicial process has reached an appropriate result and is pleased that the charges against Ms. Tumpach have been dismissed.
In a continuing effort to educate its guests about the illegality of film piracy, Muvico prominently places a number of posters and signs within its theaters alerting moviegoers of its “zero-tolerance” policy with respect to the camcording of films in its auditoriums.
The Muvico release is available here.
This case is similar to one in Virginia two years ago, which you can read about here.
Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
You'll no doubt remember the case of Jhannet Sejas, the young woman arrested for recording a portion of Transformers at Regal's Ballston Common multiplex in Arlington, Va. She entered a guilty plea. After one year, if she remains out of trouble, her record will be expunged. Threat Level at Wired Blogs has the story.
The many dire warnings of heavy-handed enforcement and young ruined lives for a "minor offence" that made their way through the blogosphere have proved, in this case, rather hysterical.
The issue here comes down to whether or not theaters have the right to prevent illegal recording of movies in their theaters. Clearly they do, and they will continue to do their jobs. It is the job of the police and prosecutors to exercise their discretion in whether to arrest and if and how to prosecute. That's what happened in this case.
With the recently reported use of a cell phone to illegally record The Simpsons Movie opening night in Australia, it becomes ever more unreasonable to expect theater employees to discriminate among what type of device is being used to record off the screen. Me, from Threat Level:
"One of the dilemmas that employees face is trying to decide who is copying for distribution and who's taking just a quick screenshot, which isn't as harmful but is against the law in most jurisdictions," Corcoran said in an interview.
In a statement, he added: "We hope that this case reinforces our efforts to educate the public that unauthorized recording, whether a clip or the whole film, in movie theaters is against the law."
Recording technology is only going to get better - smaller, clearer, easier to use - and movie thieves are going to get better at disguising their tools. If someone is using a recording device in a theater, they will be stopped. The police will be called.
Leave your cameras at home. Enjoy the movie. Why else would you be there?
Friday, August 3rd, 2007
(Originally posted August 2nd, 2007 @ 10:01 am.)
A 19-year-old woman was arrested for recording part of Transformers at Regal's Ballston Common 12 in Arlington, VA July 17. The Washington Post has the story:
Sejas was enjoying the movie so much that she decided to film a short clip of the sci-fi adventure's climax to get her little brother hyped to go see it.
Minutes later, two Arlington County police officers were pointing their flashlights at the young couple in the darkened theater and ordering them out. They confiscated the digital camera as evidence and charged Sejas, a Marymount University sophomore and Annandale resident, with a crime: illegally recording a motion picture.
"I was terrified," said Sejas, her voice breaking. "I was crying. I've never been in trouble before." She said the assistant manager of the theater saw her holding up the Canon Power Shot and reported it to the general manager, who called police.
Sejas said she had no intention of selling the 20-second film clip. She just wanted to show it to her 13-year-old brother, who had said he wanted to see the movie. She was shocked when the officers showed up.
Illegal camcording of movies in theaters is big business. According to a 2005 LEK study, pirated movies cost the movie industry $18.2 billion worldwide; U.S. movie theatres alone lost over $600 million. In response, the movie and movie theater industries have pushed for Federal and state laws making camcording in theaters a crime. In this case, the first under Virginia's statute, the theater management chose to press charges.
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