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A Year In Prison For a 20-Second Film Clip? 1169

Posted by kdawson
from the zero-tolerance dept.
PizzaFace writes "It's Jhannet's 19th birthday, so her boyfriend borrows a camcorder to memorialize the occasion, and they head to the mall. They goof around, recording each other in the food court, then decide to catch the Transformers matinee, which started a few minutes earlier. During a big action scene, Jhannet takes the camcorder and records a 20-second clip to show her little brother. A few minutes later, cops who were called by the manager come in with flashlights, arrest Jhannet, confiscate the camcorder, and, at the behest of Regal Cinemas, charge her with film piracy. 'I was terrified,' said Jhannet. 'I was crying. I've never been in trouble before.' If convicted, she could be sentenced to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine. The police say they lack discretion because Regal Cinemas chose to prosecute: 'They were the victim in this case, and they felt strongly enough about it.' The National Association of Theater Owners supports Regal's 'zero-tolerance' prosecution standard: 'We cannot educate theater managers to be judges and juries in what is acceptable. Theater managers cannot distinguish between good and bad stealing.'"
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A Year In Prison For a 20-Second Film Clip?

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  • Devil's advocate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:02PM (#20087239)
    If videotaping in a movie theater is illegal, and if that is what occurred in this instance - and indeed, the person in question admits just that - then why is this acceptable? Why should the theater decide between "good and bad stealing"?

    Isn't that for a judge and jury to decide?

    Would it be acceptable to record twenty seconds? Two minutes? Twenty minutes? The entire movie?

    (Believe it or not, there actually could be an answer here..."fair use" does have specific provisions for how long clips can be, what they can be used for, and so on.)

    I realize most here on slashdot probably won't agree with this, and think that "copyright", or at least its current form in the US, which is the basis for prohibiting things like recording in movie theaters, ought to be done away with completely.

    But if any claim on content ownership is supportable and valid in any legal framework, mustn't there necessarily be mechanisms to enforce related laws and prohibit its violation? And when there is a violation, and an agent that is party to the violation chooses to press charges for what may be the violation of a local, state, or federal statute in various circumstances, shouldn't a judge and jury be the ones to decide the outcome?

    The article says:

    "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.


    And then comes the predictable reply:

    "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."

    The "your customers aren't the enemy" reply.

    But you can easily argue that recording the entire movie and posting it on a torrent site also "promotes" the movie. Or that posting TV shows not available in certain markets "promote" the TV show. In fact, many make just that argument. Indeed, you can find many examples of how online "piracy" has increased or enhanced loyalty to various music, television shows, and so on.

    The only problem is, that's not your decision to make. That's the content owner's decision.

    The only way to allow the behavior in this particular instance is to make recording movies in theaters legal, or have ridiculous provisions like time limits on number of seconds or minutes that can "legally" be recorded, that theaters would then have to enforce.

    Where do you draw the line?

    Copyright may not be perfect, and trade and industry groups may vigorously try to protect content. But that is their right under the current legal framework, and absurd examples don't really serve any function in having any real change, other than being able to be used as a rallying cry for people who DO fundamentally believe that we should be able to record entire movies in movie theaters, or entire TV shows, or entire DVDs, and post them to torrent sites, with no fear of retribution.

    And I don't think either extreme makes sense.
    • by ArcadeX (866171) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:06PM (#20087299)
      "If videotaping in a movie theater is illegal, and if that is what occurred in this instance - and indeed, the person in question admits just that - then why is this acceptable? Why should the theater decide between "good and bad stealing"? Isn't that for a judge and jury to decide?" The judge and jury do decide, all the theater gets to decide is if they want to press charges or not. Pretty much agree with everything else in the whole 'in a perfect world' sense. Course I think most people see the maximum fine and think the worst, doesn't mean the judge will give than, more often than not they don't, they may just issue a court order forbiding that person to ever bring a recording device on that theater's property again... there goes your camera phone.
      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:12PM (#20087433)
        Actually, I just happened to see a free pass to a screening of some movie the other day.

        On the pass, it specifically said:

        - That customers were subject to search, and

        - That any and all audio or video recording equipment, or any device with such capabilities, including phones, PDAs, etc., were strictly prohibited.

        Granted, most customers in any theater at any given time probably do have camera phones. But again, this is a case where you can't really make a distinction between what is a "camcorder" versus a PDA that just happens to have enough memory to record the whole movie. If you come in with a Treo, no one is going to say anything. If you come in with your collapsible tripod asking for assistive hearing devices, or you get caught with a video camera out in the theater, you're going to get nailed.

        I agree that this situation is ridiculous, and when it goes to trial, she probably (hopefully?) won't be punished. But even in this case it wasn't like the recording was incidental. The theater and others involved can't guess intent. Sure, they had the "discretion" to not do anything, but why is that in their lap? How are they to decide who's going to upload movies and who is "recording a 20 second clip to get their little brother excited"? The only alternative is to make it all legal, and that doesn't make any sense either.
        • Re:Devil's advocate (Score:5, Informative)

          by shogarth (668598) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:27PM (#20087705)

          If you come in with a Treo, no one is going to say anything.

          Not necessarily true. We had tickets to some random movie preview 10 months ago. As always, I had my phone with me as required for work (if the servers go down...). The goon at the door saw that my phone had camera capability and denied me entrance. After an extended, polite, kafkaesque conversation, my wife watched the movie while I drank coffee and read a book next door.

          • Why not walk out to your car, put the phone in your pocket or wife's purse, and then walk back, telling the doorman that you left it in your car? What are they going to do, search you? If the answer at that point was "yes", then by all means I'd leave and not watch their movie. But otherwise, tell a harmless lie.
          • Re:Devil's advocate (Score:5, Interesting)

            by letxa2000 (215841) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:14PM (#20088733)

            The goon at the door saw that my phone had camera capability and denied me entrance.

            Are you serious? If that's the approach they're going to take, pretty soon they'll be showing their movies to empty theaters. Most phones have video recording capabilities these days. And people aren't going to leave their phone at home (perhaps the movies isn't the only place you're going while you're out) and I for one am not going to leave an expensive phone in my car since, if that's the policy, thieves are going to know that cars outside theaters are target-rich environments for cell phones.

            I've always seen the warnings that video recording devices aren't allowed and wondered WTF given the cell phones we have these days. It's a lost cause, really.

            The day they don't let me in because my cell phone has a camera is the day I stop going to movies.

            • by Doc Lazarus (1081525) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:25PM (#20088937)
              It's behavior like this that is pushing people right into home theaters. Sure, it's quite an investment. But you don't have to put up with all these myriad rules and regulations that are aimed at a very few at the expense of the many. Add to this the prices of tickets and concessions and interruptions during a film, and you got a surefire recipe for waiting and picking up a DVD that more than likely has an unrated cut. So why go to the theaters at all? At this point, On Demand cable has more perks than theaters do.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by HexaByte (817350)
              Wow! I guess you've never had a security job in a Govt. IT project, have you? I specifically got a cell phone w/o a camera because I do a lot of that, and I want to be able to take my cell phone with me. Some of the agencies I've worked for will not allow a cell phone with recording ability in it to get past the door. Try to sneak it in, you'll leave in handcuffs!

              Some companies are just as serious about protecting their assets. Even a construction site I was on recently allowed no cameras because of

          • Re:Devil's advocate (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:14PM (#20088737)
            Not to get too personal but why didn't your wife join you in protest? Did she think you over-reacted?
          • I certainly hope you asked to speak to the manager to get a refund.
            There are a couple of reasons for doing so - one is to get your ~$10 back, or possibly to get the manager to tell the goon to let you in, but more important is to keep the management aware that what they're doing is stupid and annoying and will lose them customers.

            *Everybody* has phones, and almost all phones these days have cameras whether they need them or not, and it's none of the theater's business to mess with you about them, even thoug

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by amper (33785) *
          Sure, they had the "discretion" to not do anything, but why is that in their lap?

          Because it is reasonable to expect that, as the theatre is acting (as you put it in a subsequent post) as an agent for the copyright owner, that a certain amount of enforcement power be granted them. Whether or not her recording, excerpt or no, falls within the bounds of the fair use doctrine is not germane to the case. It is reasonable to ban *all* recording because while the theatre, as agent, should be delegated the authorit
          • Re:Devil's advocate (Score:4, Informative)

            by Retric (704075) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:16PM (#20088755)
            "(a) Offense.--Any person who, without the authorization of the
            copyright owner, knowingly uses or attempts to use an audiovisual
            recording device to transmit or make a copy of a motion picture or other
            audiovisual work protected under title 17, or any part thereof, from a
            performance of such work in a motion picture exhibition facility,"

            Note: A 20 second clip may or may not be protected under title 17.

            IMO this is what is over the top:

            (d) Immunity for Theaters.--With reasonable cause, the owner or
            lessee of a motion picture exhibition facility where a motion picture or
            other audiovisual work is being exhibited, the authorized agent or
            employee of such owner or lessee, the licensor of the motion picture or
            other audiovisual work being exhibited, or the agent or employee of such
            licensor--
                                    ``(1) may detain, in a reasonable manner and for a
                            reasonable time, any person suspected of a violation of this
                            section with respect to that motion picture or audiovisual work
                            for the purpose of questioning or summoning a law enforcement
                            officer; and
                                    ``(2) shall not be held liable in any civil or criminal
                            action arising out of a detention under paragraph (1).
      • Re:Devil's advocate (Score:5, Interesting)

        by superbus1929 (1069292) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:37PM (#20087915) Homepage
        Course I think most people see the maximum fine and think the worst, doesn't mean the judge will give than, more often than not they don't

        Exactly. Any judge worth his salt is going to see what's going on here, know that she's not some pirate, and give her nothing. Maybe force her to speak out against piracy. Big whoop.

        And if he did sentence her to jail, there would be such a major public uproar that it would bring the MPAA and Crown to their knees.

        • by tbannist (230135) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:12PM (#20088699)
          "And if he did sentence her to jail, there would be such a major public uproar that it would bring the MPAA and Crown to their knees."

          Would that be just like the public outcry over Dmitry Sklyarov resulted in his swift and speedy release?

          I know there'd be some outrage over the incident but there's just too much to be pissed off about recently. They could send her to jail for 10 years and the only response would be that theater receipts would fall a little more. To see what I mean, there are people right here arguing that it's entirely reasonable and fair to take someone to trial over a 20 second clip of a movie recorded on a cell phone.

          I find it particularly disturbing that people would actually say it's not fair to the theater owner to expect him to exercise his discretion on whether to prosecute someone. Yeah, it's not like we actually want people to act as thinking beings instead of little automatons with no will of their own.

          The only reason this ridiculous travesty of justice is occurring is because the copyright holder lobbies have successfully bribed, wheedled, and lied their way into making recording a criminal offense. If it was still a civil offense the theater would have taken her camera, or kicked her out of the theater and that would have been the end of it. It's because the theater and the MPAA can now force the American public to pay for their vain lawsuits that they are pursuing action on this. After all, why not, when 300 million other people are footing the bill?
    • by trolltalk.com (1108067) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:09PM (#20087371) Homepage Journal

      "The only problem is, that's not your decision to make. That's the content owner's decision. "

      The theater wasn't the "content owner." And the theatre owner doesn't understand the concept of "de minimus" - the law doesn't deal in trifles. They're just being dickheads [trolltalk.com]. A 20-second clip isn't a clear case of copyright infringement, since copyright allows for short exerpts to be used without the copyright owners' permission, for example, in reviews. Getting kicked out of the theatre should have been enough, but that's what you get for treating your customers like criminals (guess they've adopted the Microsoft CRM model).

      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:21PM (#20087573)
        "The only problem is, that's not your decision to make. That's the content owner's decision. "

        The theater wasn't the "content owner."

        The theater is acting as an agent for a trade association, which is in turn acting as an agent for a movie studio, an so on.

        That's why they are enforcing this; they are effectively an agent for the content owners.

        And the theatre owner doesn't understand the concept of "de minimus" - the law doesn't deal in trifles. They're just being dickheads. A 20-second clip isn't a clear case of copyright infringement, since copyright allows for short exerpts to be used without the copyright owners' permission, for example, in reviews.

        I already spoke to that in my post.

        Let me be clear: I agree that the theater had the discretion to ignore it, simply kick the person out, etc. And they may have been being dickheads, after the person explained what she was doing, assuming she did.

        But why should the theater owner be put in that position? Camcorders and recording aren't allowed in movie theaters. That's what she was doing, and she even admits that it wasn't incidental (e.g., recording of a group of friends that just happened to be in the theater); she was recording the movie itself.

        Talking about fair use and so on and how long clips can be is so out of the purview of what the theater should be dealing with that it's utterly ridiculous. As I said, the only way to solve this is to:

        1.) Have recording in theaters be completely legal, or

        2.) Specify the length of clips allowable, and have theaters police the length of clips recorded in theaters.

        Do you really think 2.) is possible, and that 1.) is fair?
        • by kebes (861706) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:48PM (#20088139) Journal

          1.) Have recording in theaters be completely legal, or
          2.) Specify the length of clips allowable, and have theaters police the length of clips recorded in theaters.
          Do you really think 2.) is possible, and that 1.) is fair?
          2.) is impossible, but yes, 1.) is fair. Let people record in theaters all they want. Copyright law makes it illegal to distribute content beyond the narrow margins of fair use. That is enough. Go after the bootleggers for selling their copies, bust the massive unauthorized pressing-plants... but do not hassle people with camcorders, since you can't know their intents. A business can have a policy against camcorders... that's fine. But a law that makes it illegal to activate a camcorder in a theater? You should be allowed to record things you see. That is not a violation of copyright. Redistribution is the crime, so that's what should be targeted.

          Yes this makes it harder to stop other crimes, but when it's personal liberties being pitted against corporate profits, I'm going to support the protection of liberties even if it means that companies lose a bit of money due to illegal actions. (In the same way that I'd rather have a guilty man go free than put an innocent man behind bars.)

          Furthermore, with increasingly ubiquitous recording technology (built into laptops, phones, etc.), a rule against "recording devices in theaters" makes less and less sense.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by daveschroeder (516195) *
            So I read the comments in the recent DRM article [slashdot.org] here on slashdot.

            Many make the case that DRM is worthless, because only one person needs to break it and then the content can be freely distributed. Okay, I buy that.

            Well, that's the same case here. The problem is that you can't target redistribution. What are we going to do, "shut down" BitTorrent? Impossible. You stop it at the source, which is recording in theaters, which is where the recordings made in theaters, well, come from.

            So while I agree with the s
            • by kebes (861706) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:42PM (#20089253) Journal
              You make a cogent and persuasive point. As you say, a large part of our disagreement comes from balancing "personal rights" against "laws that preserve a greater good." And that balance is always difficult (and frequently nebulous).

              I admit it is a "hard line" stance to say that the right to record anything I see is more important than economic concerns. I further admit that the only reason I take this stance is because of my inherent misgivings about copyright law itself. I don't see it as a law that protects the greater good very efficiently, and so I don't see transgressions against it as being all that bad. In particular, I think that when it comes to personal actions (recording what I see, modifying hardware I own, etc.), these should take priority over laws intended to protect the current economics of creative works (e.g. DMCA). So I question the laws themselves.

              I don't like being treated like a criminal when I play a DVD in Linux (even though I guess I'm breaking the DMCA), and I wouldn't like being treated like a criminal for recording something I see happening.

              Besides, the ethics, of course, is the pragmatic question of how useful such enforcement actually is. As with the DRM example, only one theater has to miss a camcorder (or accept a bribe), and the entire enforcement effort was wasted. The proliferation of bootlegs suggests that current enforcement is not effective (yet it still gets in the way of the lives of normal people). I don't think ever-stricter laws are an efficient way to deal with the perceived problem of widespread copyright infringement.
            • by neonfrog (442362) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:43PM (#20089285)
              (I'm a little off your thread, I apologize for that, but I was reading your stuff when the thought occurred so it relates)

              You seem to be using strict legal extremes to dodge the points about common civility. Do you have ANY advice for the theatre owners other than call the cops? Are you advocating an extreme legal state where every action has to be heavily considered due to potentially absurd consequences?

              Remember the crime that is trying to be stopped here. Illegal recording. There are MANY ways to stop illegal recording that do not require law enforcement. In this specific example, the girl was caught within 20 seconds. That time includes walking down to her, figuring out it was her doing the recording, and going into the whole "You need to leave, give up your phone, etc" speech. In that same amount of time, they could have stopped the film. That's right. Just turned it off. The illegal recording would have stopped instantly - and there may even be some argument for the theatre being REQUIRED to take this step to protect the content that they control ad hoc. Do that enough times and you'll have the audience policing itself with no added drain on the legal system or loss from the copyright holder.

              There are advocates of "teach a lesson" that would let an 8-year old pocket a candy bar and THEN have security shake them down. They are within their legal rights. But everyone knows the real lessons taught here: "Fear the MAN." That same person could have made other choices about the candy bar like calling the kid out themselves. Entirely different lessons learned. It is this gray area of "lessons" where the human element, not legally mandated, is important. I can't tell from what you're saying where you fall on the human side of this issue. The legal side is quite clear.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mudetroit (855132)
        You have to be careful about attacking the theatre owner here. Theatres, to my knowledge and I am open to correction here, as part of their license to show the film open themselves up to the a possible lawsuit from the content owner/distributor/etc. if they are complicit in allowing unauthorized reproductions to me made. Not to mention that the distributor could elect to no longer sell them films to show in the first place effectively destroying their business. You don't want to put the theatre owners in th
      • by El Gigante de Justic (994299) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:32PM (#20087817)
        The problem with your argument is that the theater manager or whoever reported to the manager that she was recording the movie doesn't know how much she recorded or for what purpose, and it's not his job to find that out; that's the job of the police and the courts. They give you more than enough warnings that recording devices aren't allowed, so if you use one during the movie, you should expect consequences. If she really wanted to "promote" the film to her little brother, she should have just brought him to the movie - a heck of a lot less hassle.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by techiemikey (1126169)
          actually, last time i went to a movie, i do not remember any warning against bringing in recording devices. I will have to double check to see if there is a sign or if it's on the back of a ticket stub or anything, but "plenty of warning" should be more than something in fine print on the back of a ticket stub.
      • by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon@@@gmail...com> on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:36PM (#20087897)

        The theater wasn't the "content owner." And the theatre owner doesn't understand the concept of "de minimus" - the law doesn't deal in trifles. They're just being dickheads [trolltalk.com].

        Personally, if I were the girls parents, I'd make sure everybody, and I really mean everybody, in the surrounding area knew the facts about the case and that the girl wasn't trying to pirate the movie. Regal Cinemas is in a position to know whether this act really constituted a willful violation of copyright. They are also in a perfect position to ask for the charges to be dropped. If they choose not to, they deserve to lose every customer they have. Laws can be a good thing, but when a law itself causes people to abandon human decency, it needs to be changed or repealed.
    • by clambake (37702) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:16PM (#20087491) Homepage
      "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."

      INDEED! Finally, someone is making sense here. I mean a theater manager will NEVER be given a jury summons in his or her life, the statistical likelihood that is basically nil, right. That's a given, right? So, prosecute blindly, using no judgment of any kind. And, by that token, every 15 year old girl taking nude pictures of herself SHOULD at least be TRIED for child pornography. I mean, isn't that *really* what a judge and jury is for? To make sure we never forced, as a culture and a as society, to acquire the slightest shred of a collective level of common sense?

      • Common sense? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iceperson (582205)
        Hmm... perhaps if the idiot taking the video camera into a theater used a little she wouldn't be in this predicament?
    • by Absolut187 (816431) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:34PM (#20087849) Homepage
      I disagree.
      Copyright owners can be sufficiently protected by purely civil remedies.
      There is absolutely no need to lock someone in a cage for a year for violating another person's copyright. Copyright law is far too vague, nuanced, and just plain uncertain to be a valid criminal law. It should be held unconstitutional for vagueness. Even judges can't decide what use is fair use. And we are going to lock a girl in a cage for making the wrong call on a FAIR USE OF COPYRIGHT question? Are you kidding me?
      That is extreme and grotesque.

      Civil remedies (i.e. money damages and injunction) are adequate because a copyright owner can use civil remedies to prevent others from making COMMERCIAL use of the work for profit. If others do so, the copyright owner can recover those profits. There is absolutely no need for criminal penalties.
      • Re:Devil's advocate (Score:5, Informative)

        by Renraku (518261) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:16PM (#20088759) Homepage
        Fine paid: $2,500.
        Year servced: One year.

        Money gained for copyright holder/theater: Negative amounts.
        Money gained for prison system: Negative amounts.

        Total outcome: Hassle for everyone and shitload of money lost all around.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 45mm (970995)
          Money gained for lawyers: massively positive amounts. Our system exists to give lawyers a pool in the backyard of their 30k sq. ft. mansion.
    • Re:Devil's advocate (Score:4, Informative)

      by Nukenbar (215420) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:48PM (#20088151)
      Isn't that for a judge and jury to decide?


      Not really.

      Many different people have to decide this. That is how most crimes get prosecuted. Usually, but not all of the time, someone has to complain. If the theater had not complained, the kid would certainly not have been arrested.

      Second, the police have to care enough to arrest you. The police have a lot of discretion as to whom they have to arrest. Most people on slashdot think this is a bad thing, but they need this discretion to do their job. Now perhaps in this case, the policeman was ordered to make the arrest, but in many other cases he might not have to. Say, a kid stealing a candy bar from a deli, or a fight in a bar were no one really gets hurt.

      Next you have to get the prosecutor to take the case. Many cases where there are lawful arrests get dropped because the case has no merit. You might be legally arrested for spitting on the sidewalk in front of a cop, but that doesn't mean the prosecutor HAS to follow though with the case.

      An finally we get to the Judge. There is a reason that there are ranges of sentences. That allows a judge to fairly weigh a punishment with a crime. maybe a year would be fair for a hardcore pirate that is working in a theater. this kid would never see a day in jail.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Merk (25521)

      If videotaping in a movie theater is illegal, and if that is what occurred in this instance - and indeed, the person in question admits just that - then why is this acceptable? Why should the theater decide between "good and bad stealing"?

      First of all, no theft occurred, so you shouldn't muddy the waters by pretending it did. Second of all, there's something called discretion. Do you dial 911 whenever you see someone jaywalking? It is illegal, you know. Is it your responsibility to call the police, e

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by db32 (862117)
      Stealing (in the traditional sense, not the moronic IP theft sense) is also illegal. However, if if my child were to steal something from the store (think how little children tend to wander off with things they want in a store without meaning to steal), the store does not have to charge my child with any crime, and if they DO charge my child with stealing for wandering out with a toy or candy they didn't pay for you can bet your ass I will higher a good lawyer and make a damned media circus out of it and c
  • Yeah right. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Teddy Beartuzzi (727169) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:03PM (#20087243) Journal
    It was probably the first 20 seconds, then they got caught. :)
    • RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

      by altek (119814)
      it says they filmed 20 seconds of the CLIMAX of the movie, the action scene at the end, to show to the girl's little brother to get him hyped about seeing it, since he'd already expressed interest.
  • Regal Cinema (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stanistani (808333) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:04PM (#20087265) Homepage Journal
    Go up to their ticket office. Ask to see the manager. Cite this case. Tell them you're going to take your business elsewhere. Write a letter to the corporate headquarters as well.

    By itself, no result.

    100,000 times repeated, different story.
  • Justice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:04PM (#20087273)
    "there can be no justice so long as laws are absolute"

    Jean-Luc Picard

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_(TNG_episode) [wikipedia.org]
  • Stupid... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:04PM (#20087275)
    Sorry for what I'm about to say...

    Stupid people will do stupid things. She shouldn't have done that. If this is going to be a criminal case, then hopefully she will be let off easy with community service or something. Hopefully there is no mandatory minimum sentence.
  • by 00_NOP (559413) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:05PM (#20087279) Homepage
    No jury will convict in such a case, assuming we've been given the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
  • he should've known what he was getting into. Yes, he MIGHT be just copying a 20-sec clip... but he could have copied the whole movie and uploaded it to the internet where thousands of people could have downloaded it.

    The most ironic part of this tragedy is that it was their naiveness (i.e. innocence) that resulted into the guy being treated as an evil criminal, while an expert pirate would've been much more careful.

    A sad but true statement: Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You're right, she could have copied the whole movie and uploaded it to the internet, but she didn't, so she shouldn't get prosecuted.
  • It isn't much (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:09PM (#20087373)
    I know it isn't much, but I'm now boycotting the Regal theater in my area. I have a zero-tolerance policy for companies that have a zero-tolerance policy. They have terrible popcorn anyway.
  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:11PM (#20087409) Homepage Journal
    is that the punishment is less severe than the crime

    otherwise, it's just revenge

    that's why sharia law, for example, is wrong: chopping someone's hand off for stealing, or chopping someone's head off for prostitution, is not civilization

    in a society where the punishments are worse than the crimes, injustice is perpetrated by the government, not the criminals

    and in turn, the society breeds greater and greater atrocities

    justice must always exist, and people must always be punished for crime, and the punishment must not be a simple slap on the wrist, the punishment must be severe for severe crimes

    but the punishment must ALWAYS be less severe than the crime itself, or instability rather than stability is bred that society. because you are not teaching people to respect a valid concept (justice), you are teaching them (unsuccessfully) to respect an invalid concept (violence)
    • by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:04PM (#20088473) Homepage

      that's why sharia law, for example, is wrong: chopping someone's hand off for stealing, or chopping someone's head off for prostitution, is not civilization
      It depends. Actually, Islam has many jurisprudence schools, and in most of those you'll find that the "hand chopping" norm, as well as all the other Koran norms, are understood as something applicable "as written" only in situations identical to those of when they were written, i.e., when prisons, and even a fixed place where to live, were luxuries you didn't have, less harsh conditions implying in the rules being accordingly and proportionately toned down. Notice, by the way, that this is something similar to what the Jews do: you usually won't find a modern day Jew stoning a children for not obeying his parents, even though this is what the Bible mandates.

      The problem with Sharia is actually on the "Islamic protestant" movements that began developing from the XVIII century onwards. These guys [wikipedia.org] disregarded (and still disregard) the more reasonable versions of the Sharia developed in centuries past by the orthodox Muslim scholars, and apply the Koranic laws literally. Nowadays they would remain a very minor sect inside Islam weren't for the fact that Western empires (in the XIX and XX centuries) saw their radicalism as an useful tool in destabilizing Islamic regimes in places they were interested in, thus financing and protecting them. So much that even today USA is still giving tons of money to Saudi Arabia, which in turn uses this money to fund the spreading of literalist Islam.

      Stop funding Islamic literalists with one hand while promoting anti-Western hatred in Middle East with the other, and in some decades, luckily years, the non-literal, non-absurd, non-terrorism-promoting, non-evil, orthodox Sharia will become mainstream again over there.
  • Just makes it easy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kalpol (714519) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:11PM (#20087413) Homepage
    It just makes it easier for me not to go to theaters - I mean, think about it. What do you gain by going to a theater? A big, big screen and instant gratification of seeing the movie the instant it's released. That's it. The surround sound, comfy chair, and junk food you can get anywhere. Is it really worth the trouble? I don't think so. I am patient. Even with my beat-up 36" Toshiba CRT and having to wait a bit to Netflix the movie, it's still worth it to me to not have to deal with the ads, previews, searches, mess, prices, and hordes of near-animals that have turned theaters into very unpleasant experiences. I used to enjoy a reasonably-priced movie and even paid a bit more for drinks - not any more.
  • Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by starX (306011) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:14PM (#20087453) Homepage
    1) If it was only a 20 second clip, they're covered by fair use provisions.
    2) No judge is going to give her a year in prison, even if it was just the first 20 seconds before she got caught
    3) Teenagers do dumb things, none of us are any different, and learning to deal with the consequences is part of growing up. Next time, I'm sure she'll be much more sneaky and effective in her attempts at piracy, and I'm sure other teenagers will learn from this example and so will be too.
    4) That's ONE teenager with a video camera down, and several hundred thousand, plus the legions of others in less corporately controlled countries to go. Good job, MPAA, you'll have this thing nipped in the bud in no time.
  • Once again... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cleon (471197) <cleon42@y a h o o.com> on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:14PM (#20087457) Homepage
    It just goes to show that "Zero Tolerance" might as well be a synonym for "Zero Intelligence."
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:56PM (#20088307)
    ...they will have devices like in the movie "men in black" where they erase your memory after viewing the movie.

    After all your brain is holding valuable IP and you only paid to experience that IP once. Through your memories you could illegally exchange that IP with others or play back parts of it in your mind.

    If i have noticed anything its "if we have the technology to restrict it we will".
  • Better yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates (106458) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:00PM (#20088383) Homepage Journal

    Make it 20 years.

    Seriously, how long will it take before people realize that crimes such as murder and rape are much less severe than threatening the profits of a corporation?

    Look, we're a capitalist country here. Money is everything. Nobody cares about your so-called rights unless there's a dollar to be made from it. If you don't like it, I'm sure there's some socialist country up north that you could move to. After you serve your year in jail.

  • Thank you slashdot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rbarreira (836272) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:01PM (#20088405) Homepage
    Thank you slashdot, for keeping my "I'm scared of going to USA" feeling active. It seems I really need it.
  • by robohunk (1136481) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:01PM (#20088417)
    About three years ago I worked as an assistant manager for Regal in a sort of small town that had lots of street people, punk kids and wackos constantly trying to sneak in or otherwise undermine the system of paying for a ticket to a movie, watching a movie, and then leaving. One time, a harmless street guy snuck into the theatre through the front exit and went into Star Wars Episode 3, carrying a guitar case on his back and a backpack over his shoulder. When I did my theatre checks in the middle of the set, I noticed a red light coming from the back of the theatre, and I recognized the guy from earlier because of the bag. I told the manager, a harmless old guy who has more in common with the street folk than the Company, and we debated for about five minutes about what to do. Eventually we called the police, who came over and escorted the guy into the lobby. The cop asked him some questions about where he was staying (turns out he was at a local homeless shelter), where he got the camcorder, and eventually pulled me and my boss aside and asked the big question:

    "What do you want me to do with this guy?"

    The poor dude was mortified anyway, homeless, and ultimately probably wasn't going to post a torrent of his recording or make a bunch of copies and sell the dupes on the street. In the end we just confiscated the tape, escorted him out of the theatre and told him not to show up again, and that was the end of that.

    However, here's the big secret that no one is talking about: in the employee room at my theatre, there was a sign saying that any employee who witnessed and reported someone recording a movie, and then gave a sworn statement about it to the police, would get $1000 from the MPAA.

    I mean, that has to be what's going on HERE, right? Some employee saw someone with a camcorder and wanted to make some fast cash and was willing to condemn a young woman to get theirs. Heck, that's what I was thinking of when I saw the guy recording Star Wars, that's why we called the police in the first place. Luckily, I realized that I was being a dick before anyone was arrested and charged.
  • by dunstan (97493) <dvavasour.iee@org> on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:07PM (#20088559) Homepage
    From TFA "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."

    Can any of us make up figures like this and get them reported in the Washington Post?
  • by 3seas (184403) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:16PM (#20088775) Journal
    ... and so should Regal Cinema.

    So put her in jail and make a big story out of it, 60 minutes, 20/20, etc....

    I'm sure Regal will lose more than the amount of her fine and her lost wages...

    If she is so innocent than how did she miss the posted signs all of the place telling her not to record?

    Unless there were no signs.
  • by DMaster0 (26135) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:17PM (#20088801)
    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.

    Total bullshit. Pirating didn't cost the movie industry anywhere near 18.2 billion dollars, and anyone who believes those absurd numbers is a fool or a congressman.

    In reality, it's coming from a much thinner slice of everyone's entertainment dollar, extrapolated over some imaginary numbers to get a huge number that makes people scared. Follow up with a few million dollars thrown around to the right congressmen (shockingly less than $300k per lawmaker that gets a bribe, er campaign contribution), and you suddenly have legitimacy for a very fake number.

    Movie receipts are up. Theaters are doing better than ever these days, primarily thanks to something we never saw at a theater before... 10+ minutes worth of real commercials before the show. Remember when you went to a movie and the screen was blank for 20 minutes, then the trailers happened and then the movie? Hah! Now, you get some form of 20 minutes of semi-entertainment features ("the 20" or "screenvision" or whatever your brand has) which is saturated with advertisements. Then the commercials before the trailers, which at worst used to be an advertisement for the concession stand, now it's a cellphone ad, a mountain dew ad, a car ad and who knows what else, the same as you'd see on television. Pure profit for the theater owners with a captive audience that they can measure almost exactly.

    Did the price of a movie ticket go down? Absolutely not, I'm sure it's been steadily climbing in very tiny increments (.25 here, .50 there) and so do the concession prices. We all know that your average carbonated beverage costs at most $.25 per liter, yet in the magical boundaries of a movie theater a large beverage (free refills!) will run you $4+. Popcorn? $4 for even a small bag of popcorn that won't even last through the previews.

    So, the price of entertainment keeps going up. We don't devote all of our free resources to the same source of entertainment, especially when the quality of the product isn't necessarily consistent.

    If a guy has $100/mo he can devote to entertainment 5 years ago, lets assume that he gets a %5 raise every year, and can still devote the same portion of money to entertainment today. Guy has a whole $25 extra per month to spend on things. (this is assuming that at some point Guy didn't decide to buy a house, a new car, start a family, move across the country or discover a new hobby of course and we're assuming that Guy is still quite boring and does the same things today as he did 5 years ago). 5 Years ago, a movie might have cost $6-7, now it's $10-11. A CD was $12-15, now it's $16-17. DVD movies, $15 before, now $20. Even video games that were previously $40-50, are now $50-60. All of the things you spend your entertainment dollar on, are increasing their prices much higher and faster than the rate of advancement for most people's income. So what happens? People stop buying as much of some things. Less video games, less movies, less music, etc.

    Unfortunately, the reaction to their own price increases and lowered value is to blame piracy.

    "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.

    Okay, so it's happening. We've got it. We saw it on Seinfeld 10 years ago, and it was clever then, now it's not. But is it doing anything? Are the kind of people who download a crap looking handheld camera recording of a movie really the kind of person who's actually going to pay $10 to see the movie at the theater? I've never met the person who's said that they'd rather sit at home and watch a grain

  • by SQL Error (16383) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:24PM (#20088921)

    The National Association of Theater Owners supports Regal's 'zero-tolerance' prosecution standard: 'We cannot educate theater managers to be judges and juries in what is acceptable. Theater managers cannot distinguish between good and bad stealing.'
    Then you should fire them and hire competent staff.

    Zero tolerance is simply an abdication of responsibility and common sense.

    A friend of mine runs ZeroIntelligence.net [zerointelligence.net], which documents this sort of thing.
  • by dinther (738910) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:44PM (#20090541) Homepage
    I really don't want to go to the cinema anymore. Me and my family ended up looking in the foyer of a movie theater to see what movies were going only to find notices everywhere that you can be prosecuted if you'd take a recording device into the theater! Well my mobile can record so what do you do? Anyway this arcane threatening combined with being exposed to stern warning about piracy and then a whole load of adverts put me off. We decided against seeing a movie and instead had a fun family dinner somewhere.

    Movie theaters are history. Why would anyone would pay the price equal to a good DVD for the privilege to risk being prosecuted in a sticky theater with farting and sweaty people shoulder to shoulder.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @04:24PM (#20092285) Homepage Journal

    ..is that she isn't being accused of criminal copyright infringement [cornell.edu]. That law depends on the definition of copyright infringement, which in turn lists various exemptions, such as Fair Use. It's something most peopel are familiar with, and has centuries of history behind it.

    Fair Use is not a factor in this case. It's not a valid defense, even though on the surface and to most laymen, this sounds like a story about copyright infringement. It's not. Anyone who says, "Oh, it won't be so bad, because clearly this is Fair Use," does not understand what is happening here.

    She's accused of using an audiovisual recording device in a theater [cornell.edu], which is a different law and which contains no references to copyright infringement, and has no exemptions. It's like the anti-circumvention prohibition in DMCA, where it simply outlaws a possibly non-infringing activity, without regard for why you're doing it, without exempting activities that most people assume are perfectly fair, since those activities do not harm a copyright holder's market in any way. (Though it might harm their other markets, e.g. selling playback devices.)

    These are radical new laws. Common sense and centuries of tradition and common law, do not apply! The layman doesn't even know this crap exists, or he thinks it's merely a refinement or update to copyright law.

    It's ironic when some Slashdotters say things like, "the media companies need to update their business models and get with the times." Don't you see? They have. They've purchased new restrictions that go far beyond any normal person's expectations or knowledge. It's happening right under your nose, and the scum who are voting for and signing these laws, go unpunished in elections.

    Why would they be punished? Only nerds and pedants care about the details of law, and the principles that it rests upon.

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