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View Full Version : Out of the Theater, Into the Courtroom (Wash. Post article on phone taping of movie)


Giles
08-02-07, 10:41 AM
Out of the Theater, Into the Courtroom
Brief Taping Brings Charges

By Daniela Deane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 2, 2007; Page B01

Jhannet Sejas and her boyfriend were celebrating her 19th birthday by taking in a matinee showing of the hit movie "Transformers" at the theater at Ballston Common mall.

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.

Sejas faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 when she goes to trial this month in the July 17 incident. Arlington police spokesman John Lisle said it was the decision of Regal Cinemas Ballston Common 12 to prosecute the case, a first for Arlington police.

"They were the victim in this case, and they felt strongly enough about it," he said. The general manager of Regal Cinemas declined to comment yesterday.

Movie pirating cost the industry $18.2 billion worldwide in 2005, the last year for which figures were available, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Moviegoers are increasingly carrying cellphones, digital cameras and other devices capable of recording.

"Ninety percent of recently released films that are pirated are done by camcording in movie theaters," said Kori Bernards, a spokeswoman for the Motion Picture Association of America. "It's happening all over. And there's been a rash of camcording in the Washington area of late."

Besides facing a misdemeanor charge, Sejas was also banned for life from the movie theater she has frequented. Sejas, a Bolivian immigrant who works two part-time jobs to help finance her education, works at the Victoria's Secret store near the movie theater.

Her boyfriend, Ivar Villazon, said the camera belongs to his sister; the couple borrowed it, Sejas said, to "make memories" on her birthday.

Kendrick Macdowell, general counsel for the Washington-based National Association of Theatre Owners, said that illegal pirating of films costs the industry billions of dollars and that the industry was stepping up efforts to stamp it out.

Because of that, he said, there has to be a "zero-tolerance policy at the theater level."

"We cannot educate theater managers to be judges and juries in what is acceptable," he said. "Theater managers cannot distinguish between good and bad stealing."

Macdowell said the trade association, which represents 28,000 screens nationwide, realizes there is a difference between "egregious acts of stealing our movies and more innocent ones." But he said that distinction needed to be made in court rather than by theater managers.

Not everyone agrees.

"The movie industry needs to recognize that their audience isn't the enemy," said Cindy Cohn, general counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit group that specializes in digital rights issues. "They need to stop treating their fans like criminals. . . . What they're doing is extremely unreasonable, coming down on this poor girl who was actually trying to promote their movie."

Copying a motion picture from a theater performance is a felony under the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005, punishable by up to three years in a federal prison. Several states, including Virginia, also have anti-piracy laws.

Jason Schultz, senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he is aware of only one case prosecuted under the federal statute. In September 2005, a Missouri theater employee pleaded guilty to two counts of using a camcorder to copy two movies.

He said he has never heard of a case like Sejas's.

"I've heard of people's devices being confiscated, or them being kicked out of the theater," Schultz said. "This is the first criminal arrest for someone filming for personal use that I know of."

Sandy Hughes, Sejas's attorney, said she hopes she can resolve the case before it goes to trial Aug. 21 in Arlington General District Court.

Villazon said he and his girlfriend had taken a bunch of birthday pictures of each other in the mall, posing with a "guy and girl in a cow suit" at the Chick-fil-A restaurant in the food court.

They got to the movie a few minutes after it started. And even though they paid $15 for two matinee tickets, they missed the end.


~

hmmm.... kind of akin to getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar....

had to laugh at the last sentence....

harsh, but people ought to realize the MPAA and it's piracy policies aren't to be taken lightly.

out of my experiences at the Regal Ballston theatres - they are really mean and authoritarien all the time - at one point they would not allow people with bags or backpacks into the theatre... come on, you're in a Mall for Christ's sake... I don't have a car, I came here on the Metro, my personal shit's in my bag, no I don't have a video camera hiding in it... lighten up... sheesh. This incident will make them even more the assholes they currently are. Regal Rockville also makes people open their bags. Regal Gallery Place hasn't yet searched my backpack when I've gone to movies there.

DVD Josh
08-02-07, 10:44 AM
I have no problem with this. There's no such thing as "a little stealing" or "a little pirating". More than likely she'll pay a fine and do CS, and that's the right result.

Duality
08-02-07, 10:48 AM
I have no problem with this. There's no such thing as "a little stealing" or "a little pirating". More than likely she'll pay a fine and do CS, and that's the right result.

I agree. I'm tired of people stealing movies and thinking nothing of it.

j_sutton
08-02-07, 10:55 AM
... has the world gone nuts?

By your logic, there's no such thing as "a little speeding", so everybody doing 66 in a 65 should be fined? Everbody jaywalking on an empty street as well?

There are gray areas, and the distinction of intent does need to be made. She did not intend to pirate, nor steal. If the story is correct, then she was intending to promote the movie. The studio would suffer absolutely no loss, but rather a gain.

Dispensing punishment across the board with no oversight or human judgment is exactly the opposite of how our legal system should work.

Mabuse
08-02-07, 11:14 AM
This has nothing to do with piracy. The theaters are coming down hard on audiences for only one reason...because the studios are coming down hard on theater operators.

The studios are laying the blame for piracy on the theater operators (even though everybody, even the studios, knows that it isn't the theater operators or audiences that are to blame). The studios simply want to blame the theater operators for piracy, because the studio's real goal is to narrow the window between theatrical release and DVD.

The narrower the window (perhaps no window at all, ie simultaneous release to theaters and DVD) the more profits for the studios. The studios would love nothing more than to cut theaters out of all profits, keeping more for themselves. Laying the blame on theaters for piracy allows studios to substantiate their move to cut theaters out of the loop. Theaters are terrified of this, so they are coming down on audiences like fucking Nazis, to create the appearance that they treat piracy seriously and are prepared to do anything to stop it.

DVD Josh
08-02-07, 11:20 AM
... has the world gone nuts?

By your logic, there's no such thing as "a little speeding", so everybody doing 66 in a 65 should be fined? Everbody jaywalking on an empty street as well?

There are gray areas, and the distinction of intent does need to be made. She did not intend to pirate, nor steal. If the story is correct, then she was intending to promote the movie. The studio would suffer absolutely no loss, but rather a gain.

Dispensing punishment across the board with no oversight or human judgment is exactly the opposite of how our legal system should work.

Your analogy is irrelevant to this situation. You are missing the point entirely. Intent is not at issue here when the act itself is a crime. Just because you steal bread to feed your family doesn't mean the act itself is not a crime.

Seriously, you have to be a stone retard not to know that taping a movie is illegal. This girl has no defense.

j_sutton
08-02-07, 11:27 AM
Your analogy is irrelevant to this situation. You are missing the point entirely. Intent is not at issue here when the act itself is a crime. Just because you steal bread to feed your family doesn't mean the act itself is not a crime.

Seriously, you have to be a stone retard not to know that taping a movie is illegal. This girl has no defense.

I understand that, but would you say that a person who stole only to feed their family should be punished with the same sentence as someone who smashes a window and robs simply for personal gain?

This is why there are multiple degrees of murder. It's not purely the act that is in question, it's supposed to be all the circumstances surrounding it.

She may have known that it was a crime, and that's fine, I'm not saying that she didn't. But punishing a person who is going to torrent this movie the same as a person who's showing a clip to their brother is a a bit insane.

DVD Josh
08-02-07, 11:37 AM
I understand that, but would you say that a person who stole only to feed their family should be punished with the same sentence as someone who smashes a window and robs simply for personal gain?

This is why there are multiple degrees of murder. It's not purely the act that is in question, it's supposed to be all the circumstances surrounding it.

She may have known that it was a crime, and that's fine, I'm not saying that she didn't. But punishing a person who is going to torrent this movie the same as a person who's showing a clip to their brother is a a bit insane.

That's why I posted she'll likely pay a fine and do some CS. That's the right result. Clearly this person should not go to jail or be heavily fined. But there should be a penalty. If there isn't, what good is deterrence at all?

Seantn
08-02-07, 12:25 PM
By your logic, there's no such thing as "a little speeding", so everybody doing 66 in a 65 should be fined? Everbody jaywalking on an empty street as well?

But it's still illegal. If you get pulled over for going 66 in a 65, you DID break the law. You can say "I didn't break the law that much!", but it all boils down to "I broke the law..."

Giles
08-02-07, 12:27 PM
But it's still illegal. If you get pulled over for going 66 in a 65, you DID break the law. You can say "I didn't break the law that much!", but it all boils down to "I broke the law..."


... and the ... law one


sorry :D

milo bloom
08-02-07, 02:32 PM
The studios are just blindly lashing out, and they're not even doing any good. Do they really think people that are content to watch a movie off a shaky-cam or phone camera will instantly start ponying up the money for a ticket if this is stopped? They'll just go back to having their friends let them in the fire-exit or something like that.

This type of incident only serves to give the studios a blackeye, and make people hate "the system" even more. Did they even check to see if she only had a few seconds worth of footage on the phone?

j_sutton
08-02-07, 02:51 PM
But it's still illegal. If you get pulled over for going 66 in a 65, you DID break the law. You can say "I didn't break the law that much!", but it all boils down to "I broke the law..."

Correct. However, even police officers are rational enough that 99% of people doing 0-5 mph over the speed limit will not be pulled over. As mentioned above, it does no good to go after the minor, tiny, inoffensive cases. It merely widens the gap between the common person and the MPAA/RIAA/etc.

When you watch a concert, you see all those hands holding cell phones... usually just sharing a tiny, low-res bit with a friend. Do you really think all those thousands of people should now be arrested, booked, charged, and placed in jail?

There have to be limits in place on everything.

i86time
08-02-07, 02:54 PM
[i]Out of the Theater, Into the Courtroom
Brief Taping Brings Charges

.... Arlington police spokesman John Lisle said it was the decision of Regal Cinemas Ballston Common 12 to prosecute the case, a first for Arlington police.

Can someone please explain to me how it was the cinema's decision to have this case prosecuted? Last time I checked, simply showing a film, concert, performance, etc. did not give the venue copyright to that performance. At least that's what the MPAA and MLB keeps telling me when I try to get my friends to pay-per-view in my livingroom.

Layziebones
08-03-07, 06:51 PM
This has nothing to do with piracy. The theaters are coming down hard on audiences for only one reason...because the studios are coming down hard on theater operators.

The studios are laying the blame for piracy on the theater operators (even though everybody, even the studios, knows that it isn't the theater operators or audiences that are to blame). The studios simply want to blame the theater operators for piracy, because the studio's real goal is to narrow the window between theatrical release and DVD.

The narrower the window (perhaps no window at all, ie simultaneous release to theaters and DVD) the more profits for the studios. The studios would love nothing more than to cut theaters out of all profits, keeping more for themselves. Laying the blame on theaters for piracy allows studios to substantiate their move to cut theaters out of the loop. Theaters are terrified of this, so they are coming down on audiences like fucking Nazis, to create the appearance that they treat piracy seriously and are prepared to do anything to stop it.

They would make less money having the DVD come out the day after the movie in the theatre closes. The only reason they make it a few months is so it is fresh and new. No ones going to go rent or buy a DVd they just saw 2 weeks ago.

Josh-da-man
08-03-07, 08:29 PM
Sounds like the movie industry is trying to out-asshole the music industry.

Mabuse
08-06-07, 01:50 PM
They would make less money having the DVD come out the day after the movie in the theatre closes. The only reason they make it a few months is so it is fresh and new. No ones going to go rent or buy a DVd they just saw 2 weeks ago.
Movie studios have to share the theatrical boxoffice earnings with the theater owners. With DVD movie stuidos share nothing. DVD is so big right now that studios make more money on the DVD than the theater in many, if not most, cases.

DRG
08-06-07, 02:07 PM
"Ninety percent of recently released films that are pirated are done by camcording in movie theaters," said Kori Bernards, a spokeswoman for the Motion Picture Association of America.
----
Because of that, he said, there has to be a "zero-tolerance policy at the theater level."

I've seen samples of some of these types of recordings, and they look like someone set up a high quality camcorder on a tripod (based on the perfectly framed steady picture). Which leads me to believe that the majority of this pirating is being done by theater employees and not customers... how could a customer not only sneak a camera and tripod in but also set it all up without drawing attention?

MrE
08-06-07, 03:11 PM
Theater copies typically look like crap. Anyone likely to buy them isn't really going to be a targeted buyer for the studios. For the most part, the high-quality prating is not done at the theater level.

But like the observers who noted years back that targetting Napster would result in FEWER CD sales (& have you noted the decline in sales lately?), movie studios are likewise setting themselves up for a fall.

Groucho
08-06-07, 03:23 PM
Her boyfriend, Ivar Villazon, said the camera belongs to his sister; the couple borrowed it, Sejas said, to "make memories" on her birthday.Pics?But like the observers who noted years back that targetting Napster would result in FEWER CD sales (& have you noted the decline in sales lately?), movie studios are likewise setting themselves up for a fall.I would argue that the decline in CD sales is due to people downloading music through legitimate methods (iTunes and such), not because of the fall of Napster.

Peep
08-06-07, 04:28 PM
Pics?I would argue that the decline in CD sales is due to people downloading music through legitimate methods (iTunes and such), not because of the fall of Napster.

You would be wrong.

Mr. Salty
08-06-07, 05:02 PM
Arlington police spokesman John Lisle said it was the decision of Regal Cinemas Ballston Common 12 to prosecute the case, a first for Arlington police.
I hate to argue with the cop, but if a federal law has been violated it's up to a federal prosecutor whether to press charges in this case, not a movie theater chain.

Mr. Salty
08-06-07, 05:08 PM
Pics?
http://img174.imageshack.us/img174/2930/ph2007080102403qz3.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Chrisedge
08-06-07, 06:56 PM
When you watch a concert, you see all those hands holding cell phones... usually just sharing a tiny, low-res bit with a friend. Do you really think all those thousands of people should now be arrested, booked, charged, and placed in jail?

Actually recording a concert is legal. Recording a movie isn't.

zombiezilla
08-06-07, 09:03 PM
I work in the music industry, friend, and I can tell you that, without a doubt, recording a concert IS QUITE ILLEGAL unless the performer(s) permit it (in any number of ways, depending on who you are & what you do). Example: Metallica allows fan filming/taping with whatever type of equipment you like (as long as it's not too obtrusive), but ONLY in certain sections of the arena, usually the nosebleed seats.

Also, the permanent CD sales slump is due to the simple fact that people now have more things to spend their disposable income on, i.e. movies (DVDs, specifically), video games & systems, and stuff like I-Tunes. It doesn't help that so much music is available for free online, but that primarily hurts the record companies and not the bands so much, since bands make most of their money touring, and record companies make most of their money from CD sales. This is also why all the big (and small) record companies are merging to form bigger companies (more fiscal insulation).

But, back to the subject at hand; the girl probably knew what she was doing was illegal/wrong; but ignorance of the law is no excuse, either way. She should get a REASONABLE fine (though I'm certain she'll be smacked with the full $2500), and some CS.

Heat
08-06-07, 09:59 PM
...She should get a REASONABLE fine (though I'm certain she'll be smacked with the full $2500), and some CS.
I don't see that happening, I see the case being dismissed since she only taped a 20 second clip. She obviously wasn't going to pirate the movie plus she has an attorney. Though the case will be dismissed (my prediction), she'll still end up paying $1,000 or so on the attorney unless it's a family friend or something like that. And speaking of pirated versions of Transformers, a friend of mine was in South America a month ago, picked up a copy of the movie on DVD for about $4.

And speaking of theaters in malls - there's a guy I know who works at a chocolate / popcorn store in a mall. He sells quite a bit to people saying that they are going to the movies (there's a theater in the mall). And why not? It's dirt cheap compared to the prices in the theaters.

zombiezilla
08-06-07, 10:59 PM
Heat, you sound very reasonable; I just think that the studio(s) are going to push this issue REALLY hard. I'm anxious to see how this all pans out.

tat2dbri
08-06-07, 11:04 PM
i'm sorry but i see nothing wrong from what she did at all. i believe it is a joke to go to movie now -a- days it is 8.75 after 6 that is just wrong so i see nothing wrong with what they did or anyone making illegal copies in any way. i don't by them but i see them all the time at the flea market for like 2-3 bucks. i mean who actually cares soon movies will become like napster,apple itunes store, and other mp3 sites if it is free or on a pay basis it is coming. when they lower the prices they will see more people going and as someone here stated less people sneaking in the backdoor.

Supermallet
08-07-07, 12:39 AM
... has the world gone nuts?

By your logic, there's no such thing as "a little speeding", so everybody doing 66 in a 65 should be fined? Everbody jaywalking on an empty street as well?

There are gray areas, and the distinction of intent does need to be made. She did not intend to pirate, nor steal. If the story is correct, then she was intending to promote the movie. The studio would suffer absolutely no loss, but rather a gain.

Dispensing punishment across the board with no oversight or human judgment is exactly the opposite of how our legal system should work.

But going a mile over the speed limit or jaywalking still is a crime, even if the circumstances allow you to do it. If you get caught, it's your own fault. She decided to record a portion of the movie, and she got caught. It's her fault. She could have just as easily told her brother that Transformers is super awesome and cool and he has to see it. I believe that's called word of mouth.

Edit: Also, I don't see where it says she recorded the clip on her cell phone. It says she recorded it on a Canon Powershot, which if I am correct is a digital photo camera that can also record film clips. How can you not know it's a bad idea to bring recording devices into movie theaters? Come on.

RoboDad
08-07-07, 02:27 AM
But going a mile over the speed limit or jaywalking still is a crime, even if the circumstances allow you to do it. If you get caught, it's your own fault. She decided to record a portion of the movie, and she got caught. It's her fault.
That is absolutely correct. However, there isn't one single punishment for all traffic violations. The fines are meted out in such a way that "the punishment fits the crime."

Paying a $1000 fine for recording a 20 second clip of a 2+ hour movie (where the fine for recording the entire movie would be $2500), would be the equivalent of fining a motorist $100 for driving 66 MPH in a 65 zone, where the fine for traveling 100 MPH in the same zone is $250. It is not logical or just. One is clearly a crime born of ignorance, or a momentary lapse in judgment, while the other demonstrates a willful disregard for the law and the rights of others.

Let the punishment fit the crime. If the penalty for recording a full two hour movie is $2500 and a year in jail, let her pay a fine of $10 and spend one night in the pokey for her 20 second infraction. That just about measures out to the same penalty per second as the full crime would receive, and I'm sure she would "get the message" that what she did was "bad".

Supermallet
08-07-07, 02:53 AM
That may end up being all she gets, considering it'll be decided by a judge.

Dignam
08-07-07, 03:48 AM
harsh, but people ought to realize the MPAA and it's piracy policies aren't to be taken lightly.
You don't visit TV Talk, do you? ;)

Groucho
08-07-07, 09:45 AM
You would be wrong.Prove me wrong then. :lol:

printerati
08-07-07, 09:59 AM
Her boyfriend, Ivar Villazon, said the camera belongs to his sister; the couple borrowed it, Sejas said, to "make memories" on her birthday.

Obviously, the appropriate punishment is to publish all of the non-Transformers movie clips stored on the confiscated camera.

zombiezilla
08-07-07, 10:07 PM
i'm sorry but i see nothing wrong from what she did at all. i believe it is a joke to go to movie now -a- days it is 8.75 after 6 that is just wrong so i see nothing wrong with what they did or anyone making illegal copies in any way. i don't by them but i see them all the time at the flea market for like 2-3 bucks. i mean who actually cares soon movies will become like napster,apple itunes store, and other mp3 sites if it is free or on a pay basis it is coming. when they lower the prices they will see more people going and as someone here stated less people sneaking in the backdoor.


When you can properly and cohesively construct a paragraph (or even a sentence), perhaps we'll give a shit about what you have to say. But probably not.

Heat
08-08-07, 11:46 PM
Isn't there a twenty second "fair use" rule? That you can use twenty seconds of a song or movie without infringing upon any copyrights and more importantly, not paying any royalties? It's because of this that talk radio always plays short clips between subjects or when segueing into or out of a commercial. This might be only for broadcasters though and not for the general public.

I've looked up the law she violated and it's clearly not targeted towards a person recording a twenty second clip on a camera, a camera that has a two or three minute recording capacity and even then it's just OK quality. But technically speaking, she did record a part of the movie. I've thought about it some more - I really see the judge throwing the case out though I can see her losing her camera (probably a $200 camera) plus she'll be stuck with attorney's fees ($500 or $1000, unless it's a friend?). When searching for news on this story I ran across a guy who got caught by undercover police recording the entire movie on a camcorder - that's who this law was aimed at. But undercover police at movie theaters?

One final comment - I rarely go to theaters, maybe once every year or two two; rather I go to a drive-in whenever I want to watch a movie on the big screen. This is just another reason to go to drive-ins, you don't have people watching your every action. Not that I would want to record a twenty second clip of a movie on my Canon Powershot, but if I did there is no doubt in my mind that I could easily do it and not be caught.

Chrisedge
08-14-07, 04:15 PM
I work in the music industry, friend, and I can tell you that, without a doubt, recording a concert IS QUITE ILLEGAL unless the performer(s) permit it (in any number of ways, depending on who you are & what you do)...

Incorrect. Here is California's law on recording, and I carry this with me when I record:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=639-653.1

653h. (a) Every person is guilty of a public offense punishable as
provided in subdivisions (b) and (c), who:
(1) Knowingly and willfully transfers or causes to be transferred
any sounds that have been recorded on a phonograph record, disc,
wire, tape, film or other article on which sounds are recorded, with
intent to sell or cause to be sold, or to use or cause to be used for
commercial advantage or private financial gain through public
performance,
the article on which the sounds are so transferred,
without the consent of the owner.

I record bands. Some of which "don't allow recordings" They can't even take my recording if I get caught. They can have me removed from the building (trespassing) if I get caught, but they can't even touch me, or my equipment, tapes, etc...The simple act of taping is not what is illegal. Distribution of said recording, is where they can get you. Trust me on this, as I have had friends caught, and they have requested the police, since they know there are no laws being broken.

There are specific laws on the books regarding MOVIE recording, and that is why the recording of MOVIES is against the law...

movieguru
08-14-07, 09:42 PM
What I don't understand is that this is being enforced for filming a 20 second clip; yet you go to any major comicbook convention and they have at least 2 different guys selling piratet movies and tv show out in the open and they don't ever seem to get busted. The convention organizers know what they're selling is illegal yet they still let them sell there. It would be an easy arrest. Why don't they ever go after them?

ToddSm66
08-15-07, 11:11 AM
This is about as ridiculous as the theater that kicked out the 7 year old kid with autism for laughing too loud during March of the Penguins. A little common sense would be nice.

I would never step foot in that theater again.

DVD Josh
08-15-07, 11:36 AM
Incorrect. Here is California's law on recording, and I carry this with me when I record:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=639-653.1

653h. (a) Every person is guilty of a public offense punishable as
provided in subdivisions (b) and (c), who:
(1) Knowingly and willfully transfers or causes to be transferred
any sounds that have been recorded on a phonograph record, disc,
wire, tape, film or other article on which sounds are recorded, with
intent to sell or cause to be sold, or to use or cause to be used for
commercial advantage or private financial gain through public
performance,
the article on which the sounds are so transferred,
without the consent of the owner.

I record bands. Some of which "don't allow recordings" They can't even take my recording if I get caught. They can have me removed from the building (trespassing) if I get caught, but they can't even touch me, or my equipment, tapes, etc...The simple act of taping is not what is illegal. Distribution of said recording, is where they can get you. Trust me on this, as I have had friends caught, and they have requested the police, since they know there are no laws being broken.

There are specific laws on the books regarding MOVIE recording, and that is why the recording of MOVIES is against the law...

Chris, if I were a prosecutor, I could convict you on this pretty easily. Intent can be inferred from your actions. Given the distribution networks of ngs, mirc, torrents, etc. and the fact that such recording could "caused to be used" for commercial advantage (i.e., a third party acquiring the recording and selling it).

Now, you could say that you only record for yourself and never even trade or post the recording, and that might get you out of this (but I don't think a jury would buy it).

However, I'd nail you on trespassing. I'm sure these places that would grab you for taping have a no-taping policy. You've violated the terms of the invitation and are no longer and invitee but a trespasser.

I'm just saying, if they wanted to, they could get you. Your subjective intent is not at issue. It's the objective intent of someone typically taping a concert. Our legal system does not operate on the honor system.

Jericho
08-15-07, 11:45 AM
I have no problem with this. There's no such thing as "a little stealing" or "a little pirating". More than likely she'll pay a fine and do CS, and that's the right result.

co-sign

Jericho
08-15-07, 11:47 AM
... has the world gone nuts?

By your logic, there's no such thing as "a little speeding", so everybody doing 66 in a 65 should be fined? Everbody jaywalking on an empty street as well?

There are gray areas, and the distinction of intent does need to be made. She did not intend to pirate, nor steal. If the story is correct, then she was intending to promote the movie. The studio would suffer absolutely no loss, but rather a gain.

Dispensing punishment across the board with no oversight or human judgment is exactly the opposite of how our legal system should work.

The way I see it, she did something she knew was wrong, and she got caught doing it. I mean if you get caught doing 66 in a 65 mph zone, it sure does suck. But you knew it was a possibility. You took the risk.

Jericho
08-15-07, 11:51 AM
Can someone please explain to me how it was the cinema's decision to have this case prosecuted? Last time I checked, simply showing a film, concert, performance, etc. did not give the venue copyright to that performance. At least that's what the MPAA and MLB keeps telling me when I try to get my friends to pay-per-view in my livingroom.

For any number of reasons I suppose. She probably violated the theater's code of conduct, which can help reduce their profits. And they are third party beneficiaries of the copyrighted material, as they make money off of it through their license to show it. In fact, their license may give them some temporary ownership of the material for copyright purposes.

Jericho
08-15-07, 11:53 AM
Correct. However, even police officers are rational enough that 99% of people doing 0-5 mph over the speed limit will not be pulled over. As mentioned above, it does no good to go after the minor, tiny, inoffensive cases. It merely widens the gap between the common person and the MPAA/RIAA/etc.

When you watch a concert, you see all those hands holding cell phones... usually just sharing a tiny, low-res bit with a friend. Do you really think all those thousands of people should now be arrested, booked, charged, and placed in jail?

There have to be limits in place on everything.

Sure it is. If you nip things in the bud, the next guy stands a lesser chance of trying to violate the law. It puts the precedent out there. And the story may deter others from trying to do the same thing.

I mean if you knew you were likely to get pulled over for going even 1 mph over the speed limit, would you be less likely to speed?

Jericho
08-15-07, 12:03 PM
Isn't there a twenty second "fair use" rule? That you can use twenty seconds of a song or movie without infringing upon any copyrights and more importantly, not paying any royalties? It's because of this that talk radio always plays short clips between subjects or when segueing into or out of a commercial. This might be only for broadcasters though and not for the general public.



Isn't the reason she only recorded as much as she did because she was caught and the police stopped her?

Draven
08-15-07, 12:05 PM
And speaking of theaters in malls - there's a guy I know who works at a chocolate / popcorn store in a mall. He sells quite a bit to people saying that they are going to the movies (there's a theater in the mall). And why not? It's dirt cheap compared to the prices in the theaters.

I'll do you one better. At the movie theater we go to there is a gas station across the street that has "Theater Candy Sold Here" on their gas price sign.

Must drive the theater crazy.

majorjoe23
08-15-07, 12:22 PM
What I don't understand is that this is being enforced for filming a 20 second clip; yet you go to any major comicbook convention and they have at least 2 different guys selling piratet movies and tv show out in the open and they don't ever seem to get busted. The convention organizers know what they're selling is illegal yet they still let them sell there. It would be an easy arrest. Why don't they ever go after them?

There was a big bust at one of the cons two years ago (Hero Con, I think). After that I've noticed they've clamped down a lot at the bigger cons. I only saw one guy selling at San Diego this year.

i86time
08-15-07, 12:43 PM
Chris, if I were a prosecutor, I could convict you on this pretty easily. Intent can be inferred from your actions. Given the distribution networks of ngs, mirc, torrents, etc. and the fact that such recording could "caused to be used" for commercial advantage (i.e., a third party acquiring the recording and selling it).

Now, you could say that you only record for yourself and never even trade or post the recording, and that might get you out of this (but I don't think a jury would buy it).

However, I'd nail you on trespassing. I'm sure these places that would grab you for taping have a no-taping policy. You've violated the terms of the invitation and are no longer and invitee but a trespasser.

I'm just saying, if they wanted to, they could get you. Your subjective intent is not at issue. It's the objective intent of someone typically taping a concert. Our legal system does not operate on the honor system.

But you're missing one of the key points in the US criminal justice system. He doesn't have to prove he was never going to distribute the recording (which may allow another person down the line to profit from it by selling it, etc.), you have to prove 'beyond a reasonable doubt' that such events (to use or cause to be used for commercial advantage or private financial gain through public performance) were going to happen. Good luck getting a semi-intelligent jury to accept that. Now, if he had a previous pattern of trading/ selling it to certain people who later used the material in this illegal manner, it might be easy to convict. But again, you'd need the evidence for those past instances.

Also, I doubt you'd get him on trespassing either. First, you have to notify the party that they're no longer welcome and the have no business there. If you illegally seize his recorder/ tape, and he doesn't leave because he's waiting for you to give it back or for the police to arrive, that's not trespassing.

i86time
08-15-07, 12:54 PM
For any number of reasons I suppose. She probably violated the theater's code of conduct, which can help reduce their profits. And they are third party beneficiaries of the copyrighted material, as they make money off of it through their license to show it. In fact, their license may give them some temporary ownership of the material for copyright purposes.

Well, violating a 'code of conduct' is by no means criminal, but I'd be interested in if the last portion of your statement is true. How else could a theater chain decide to prosecute for this offense? Still it seems odd that it wasn't the decision of a federal or VA state prosecutor to try this case. Now that I think about it, perhaps the author of the article mis-wrote that sentence and meant the theater decided to have them arrested and asked them to be brought to trial, but ultimately it will be up to prosecutors?

milo bloom
08-15-07, 01:05 PM
Not sure if this has anything to do with it, but I've been seeing an ad for a wireless company that shows a movie theater, and as the end credits roll and the lights come up, you see everybody firing up their phones. Maybe they're saying you should use your phone to tell your friends how cool the movie was, but how many people are going to see this ad and think "hey, I can transmit my illegally recorded movie to teh internet before I even leave the theater LOL!!"

Am I thinking about this too hard?


And I still think they're making a mountain out of a molehill.
Isn't the reason she only recorded as much as she did because she was caught and the police stopped her?
The girl claimed she only recorded a few seconds of the climactic end scene to show her brother. A simple viewing of the contents of her phone would prove her intent right then and there.

wm lopez
08-15-07, 11:42 PM
How come they don't run some announcement about what will happen if your caught filming?
They run every other damn ad!!!
She should get fined $1,000 only because it was a few minutes.

Mr. Salty
08-16-07, 02:05 AM
She should get fined $1,000 only because it was a few minutes.
No, it was 20 seconds.

cpgator
08-16-07, 05:40 PM
So according to the article, toward the end of the movie, the girl records a few seconds of the film on her camera (not even a camcorder), and then puts the camera away. I am truly suprised that some posters here feel that because of this she is getting what she deserves.

Hopefully the DA shows more common sense and drops the case.

Chrisedge
08-16-07, 05:48 PM
Chris, if I were a prosecutor, I could convict you on this pretty easily. Intent can be inferred from your actions. Given the distribution networks of ngs, mirc, torrents, etc. and the fact that such recording could "caused to be used" for commercial advantage (i.e., a third party acquiring the recording and selling it).

Now, you could say that you only record for yourself and never even trade or post the recording, and that might get you out of this (but I don't think a jury would buy it).

However, I'd nail you on trespassing. I'm sure these places that would grab you for taping have a no-taping policy. You've violated the terms of the invitation and are no longer and invitee but a trespasser.

I'm just saying, if they wanted to, they could get you. Your subjective intent is not at issue. It's the objective intent of someone typically taping a concert. Our legal system does not operate on the honor system.

I disagree with the "Our legal system does not operate on the honor system" part. My car can go 100 mph, does that mean I should get a ticket for it? There is no law against simply recording the show, you don't have any laws to charge me with. You can go after the guy selling the show, or possibly the guy "giving the show away for free", since both those infringe on copyright laws, but the "act of recording" isn't against the law.

Often folks are "charged" for trespassing and just removed from the building. Or sometimes people just give up the tape, and are allowed to stay. But there is nothing against the law about the recording part.

I have recorded many a show that has not been shared in anyway. Prolly about half of my recordings are not out there.

This is a big problem that the industry has, thinking live recordings hurt sales. I have recorded shows that have been pressed into Silver CD's and if any show I recorded was released by the band, I would have purchased it.

The Pixies, The Who, Duran Duran and the Foo Fighters have all released shows that I was at and recorded. I have purchased all of them. (Foo was a compilation of multiple nights, and wasn't even complete, yet I still got it) EDITED TO ADD: Since I knew these were being commerically released, NONE of them have been traded or shared in anyway.

But it is a common misconsiption that "recording a concert" is illegal. It's not. I know of NO ONE, anywhere being charged with recording a concert. Distributing "Bootlegs"? Of course...

Heat
08-24-07, 09:38 AM
Update

She pleaded (pled?) guilty and was fined $71 in court costs. The movie chain supposedly pressured the prosecutor to charge the teen in order to make an example out of her.

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/08/worlds-largest-.html

World's Largest Theater Chain Pressured Prosecutor to Charge Teen for Filming 20 Seconds of Transformers
By David Kravets August 22, 2007 | 4:57:04 PMCategories: Crime

Arlington County's top prosecutor, Richard E. Trodden, tells THREAT LEVEL he was pressured by Regal Entertainment Group, the world's largest movie exhibitor, to prosecute a 19-year-old Virginia woman for filming 20 seconds of Transformers.

"What they were saying, 'Could you get her to admit that it wasn't right.' They wanted to make sure the message gets out," Trodden said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "This was kind of trying to address the concerns of the theater people, and the fact that it was not an outrageous crime."

Trodden, pictured at right, said he spoke with Randy Smith, Regal's general counsel. Messages left for Smith at the company's Knoxville, Tennessee headquarters were not immediately returned.

Jhannet Sejas, 19, pleaded guilty last week in Arlington County General District Court to one misdemeanor count of filming a motion picture in a movie house owned by Regal Cinemas. The statute, like the 37 others nationwide sponsored by the motion picture industry, deems filmgoers guilty for filming a "portion" or a "portion thereof" of a movie. "I totally forgot that I was not allowed to do that," Sejas said Wednesday. "I did it without thinking clearly.

Her attorney, Sandra Hughes, said she "wished the case hadn't gotten this far as it did."

"I know that Regal Cinemas has a zero-tolerance policy," she added.
Sejas, who paid a $71 fine and faced a maximum year in jail and $2,500 penalty, was arrested at Arlington County Regal Cinema theater last month. She said her only intention behind her crime, committed with a Canon Powershot camera, was to show her little brother a snippet of the show.
Trodden, the county's top prosecutor, conceded Sejas' crime was minimal.

"The statute is clear: you're not allowed to photograph any part," Trodden said. "It was not an egregious case. That's why we came to this moderate disposition."

Trodden said Sejas, as part of the plea deal, will have the conviction removed from her record in a year if she stays out of trouble.

"What it boils down to, she said 'I shouldn't have done this.' If she keeps her nose clean, this will go away and there will be no record."

Regal Cinemas, part of the Regal Entertainment Group, says it's the world's largest motion picture exhibitor. The group comprises of Regal Cinemas, United Artists Theatres and Edwards Theatres. The group says it operates 6,386 screens in 539 locations in 40 states and the District of Columbia.