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

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the zero-tolerance dept.

Movies 1169

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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Devil's advocate (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Devil's advocate (4, Insightful)

ArcadeX (866171) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Devil's advocate (3, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 (4, Informative)

shogarth (668598) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Devil's advocate (2, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087345)

Here's the thing, either the projectionist, or some other staff member (or possibly another movie goer) saw someone with a camcorder recording the movie. They reported it. The theatre did take the appropriate action IMHO, of calling the appropriate authorities. Now, the theatre could, if they believe her story of 20 seconds, could drop the charges. However, I don't blame them for not doing so. If her story holds up, I doubt she'll get more than a minor slap on the wrist, probably in the form of a fine.

Re:Devil's advocate (5, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087371)

"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).

MOD PARENT UP (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087451)

It'll suck for the person accused of this, but maybe this could be the case that leads to a *serious* review of the weapons our representatives have given copyright holders. Then at least some good might come of it.

Re:Devil's advocate (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087531)

I don't see how they were being dickheads - this is in similar realms of stupidity of trying to get onto a plane with a gun, or smoking in a gas station..? It's moronic to expect to be allowed to record any part of a movie in the cinema, though I think if they'd watched the video and her claims held up, then they should have just been ejected from the cinema rather than anything worse happening.

Re:Devil's advocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087555)

Really, how about a warning before posting links to images like that?

Re:Devil's advocate (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087713)

Honestly, what did you expect when the word "dickheads" is linked to a site called trolltalk.com? I don't think a warning alarm can sound louder than that.

Re:Devil's advocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087561)

Okay, the theater was being a dick. But I don't really blame them. They are a business. Certain laws exist. They are within their rights to use their laws to protect their business (whether or not this was a smart business move is beside the point, it is their right to run their business as they see fit).

I blame the fact that a law exists where a person can get arrested for merely taking a camcorder out of a bag in a movie theater. If the theater wants to throw a person out, that's fine (it's private property), but I blame the law for allowing this to escalate so easily to the courts and possible jail time... for such an innocent action.

Yes, I know the law in question is intended to prevent a certain class of crime. But laws which restrict the freedoms of normal citizens in their daily lives, while only marginally discouraging a class of non-violent crime, are not good laws in my opinion. Any law which a citizen, acting in good faith, can accidentally trip so easily, is not a good law.

Whenever new laws are created to stop "big bad piracy" one standard defense of the new law is to say "if you're not pirating things, this won't affect you." That simply isn't true. This is yet another example of anti-"piracy" paranoia leading to infringements of the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens. Even if no fine and jail-time result from this, being treated like a criminal for such actions is not something we should tolerate.

Re:Devil's advocate (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

Content "owner"? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087583)

In the US there is no Constitutional basis for "content ownership". The Constitution grants Congress the right to give a limited time monopoly on the sale of creative works, NOT ownership.

I own my house; it does not go into the public domain after 175 years. I do not own the works I have registered copyrights for. Unless Congress gives Disney another extension my great great great great grandchildren will be SOL regarding my copyrights, but the house, should it not be sold, will still be theirs.

Someone should tell Disney and Congress this, however...

-mcgrew

Re:Devil's advocate (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087611)

but that's what you get for treating your customers like criminals

Yep. I am angry about this so I don't think I will be going to any Regal movie theatres any time soon. If Regal is the only chain showing what I want to see, I will just wait for netflix.

Legal or not, I don't want to pay money to people who are inclined to treat their own customers this badly for such trifles.

NSFW!! NSFW!! (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087677)

Hey guy, give me back my innocence!...

And my job

Re:Devil's advocate (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087693)

Fair Use might not apply since she is not being charged with infringement, she is being charged for a crime - illegaly recording a motion picture.

She's just going to get a slap on the wrist if her story is true; so much drama over nothing.

Re:Devil's advocate (3, Insightful)

mudetroit (855132) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087703)

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 that position.

Re:Devil's advocate (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087401)

But you can easily argue that recording the entire movie and posting it on a torrent site also "promotes" the movie
...
Where do you draw the line?


But this is where the whole fair use argument comes in. one of the test for fair use is the amount used. More importantly, another is the possible impact it will have through displacement of sales. Recording the entire movie clearly has the potential to displace a sale. The fair use doctrine is quite deliberately a little vague on where the specific boundaries are, and instead uses the "reasonable person" test. However, it would be hard to draw a reasonable boundary where 20 seconds of footage and a whole movie are both on the same side.

Re:Devil's advocate (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087521)

Reading comprehension 101. The article suggested, and rightfully so, that it is up to a judge and jury to determine whether or not this use of the video clip is fair use or not, not a theater manager.

Re:Devil's advocate (4, Insightful)

clambake (37702) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087491)

"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?

Re:Devil's advocate (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087535)

Because you fucking idiot, there would be no charges if it wasn't for the theater owner pressing them. Try to read moron.

Re:Devil's advocate (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087539)

Believe it or not, there actually could be an answer here..."fair use" does have specific provisions for how long clips can be

No, it does not . That's one of the reasons that the whole "fair use" concept isn't enough to keep you out of the courts because there are no specific provisions for how long clips can be. In fact, in the so-called "Betamax decision", the US Supreme Court held that recording an entire TV show fell under "fair use". You should lose mod points for saying that when it's completely false.

Re:Devil's advocate (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087707)

You are completely wrong.

The time shifting case allows the recording of entire TV shows, movies, etc., in a noncommercial home environment for personal use.

That is not "fair use". Fair use is an entirely different concept, and is widely understood to NOT allow the recording of entire copyrighted content wholesale. You can use small clips, and that's it. And what constitutes a "small clip" does not have a specific definition, but it is most certainly NOT the entirety of the content, e.g., in an educational context [iupui.edu] :

III. Amount

Amount is measured both quantitatively and qualitatively. No exact measures of allowable quantity exist in the law. Quantity must be evaluated relative to the length of the entire original and in light of the amount needed to serve a proper objective. One court has ruled that a journal article alone is an entire work; any copying of an entire work usually weighs heavily against fair use. Pictures generate serious controversies, because a user nearly always wants the full image, or the full "amount." On the other hand, a "thumbnail," low-resolution version of the image might be an acceptable "amount" to serve an education or research purpose. Motion pictures are also problematic, because even short clips may borrow the most extraordinary or creative elements. One may also reproduce only a small portion of any work, but still take "the heart of the work." This concept is a qualitative measure that may weigh against fair use.


There is quite a bit of information about the "short clip" provisions for fair use, which are subjective, all around various legal and other sites on the internet. But the bottom line is that it is NEVER all of the content, and is always a very small portion of the total content.

Re:Devil's advocate (1)

Brad Eleven (165911) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087689)

Where do you draw the line?

...I don't think that either extreme makes sense.


Bingo. The current laws simply do not cover the tech, and the gap continues to grow.

If the theater managers can't be educated, surely the public cannot. Most readers here completely grok the situation, and we pride ourselves on holding and maintaining distinctions like these. They set us apart from the general public. We know not to get a video recording device anywhere near a movie theater--whereas the people being charged with piracy had little or no idea what risk they were taking.

It's a mess--and messes tend to raise awareness. Perhaps this one will cause more people to be aware of the loose definitions of media piracy--as opposed to raising that special brand of awareness we know as FUD.

The only problem is, [whether or not to share some or all of licensed content is] not your decision to make. That's the content owner's decision.


I assert that the owner's decision to distribute his/her/its content in such a way as to allow unauthorized copying voids their claim to ownership. In the same way that the suspects in this case were ignorant of the law, the owners are ignorant of the demand for their content outside of what they're willing to provide.

Yeah right. (5, Funny)

Teddy Beartuzzi (727169) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087243)

It was probably the first 20 seconds, then they got caught. :)

Re:Yeah right. (1)

mdrisser (605168) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087419)

Considering the response time of police departments, I seriously doubt 'It was probably the first 20 seconds, then they got caught' Even if the response was immediate, it would probably have taken them at least 5 minutes to get there, travel time, making their way through the theater, finding the people, etc.

I don't understand the thinking... (2, Insightful)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087249)

Why aren't these looked at on a case by case basis... I guarantee this prosecution will result in Regal Cinemas losing much more than the $2,500 if they win. Again, just another example where blindless due to greed creates the desire to sue your customers.

Re:I don't understand the thinking... (5, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087335)

My problem with what they did though is that if they wanted to show him a piece of the movie, why not grab the movie trailer off the internet? There is no reason to record a movie while you're watching it in a theater.

How does the theater know they were only planning to record a bit of the film? How do they know they weren't trying to film the whole movie?

If they win, nothing will happen. Most people see how stupid someone is for using a camcorder in a movie theater.

Re:I don't understand the thinking... (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087571)

My problem with what they did though is that if they wanted to show him a piece of the movie, why not grab the movie trailer off the internet?
because that wouldnt involve the fun camcorder. it sounds like the girl was recording the movie more to show off the camcorder to her little brother than the movie.

Re:I don't understand the thinking... (1)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087605)

There is no reason to record a movie while you're watching it in a theater.

That's true, but this still could have been handled with much more discretion. The theater manager could have juse pulled the girl into his office and talked to her before deciding whether or not to call the police. He could have asked to see exactly what she taped, then deleted the offending scene from the tape, kick her out of the theater for the day, or for life, whatever. Even threaten to call the cops if it happens a second time. She would have learned her lesson, and told her friends, and now they would all know how serious it could have been. But getting the cops involved over something so small? Would a grocery store manager call the cops because a 10 year-old helps himself to a sample from the bulk food bin?

The GPP is right, this is just going to cost the theater more money than they would ever win in court, and cost the girl and her family money that will just go to lawyers and court costs.

Re:I don't understand the thinking... (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087347)

She still gets her day in court, and a judge and/or jury will determine the punishment. She will probably get a slap on the wrist.

first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087255)

first infringing post?

Regal Cinema (5, Insightful)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087265)

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.

Re:Regal Cinema (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087355)

Is this before or after you check all the other theaters in town operated by different companies and verify that they wouldn't do the exact same thing?

Re:Regal Cinema (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087577)

I'll take my business elsewhere... Netflix. So I won't see it RIGHT THEN. Chances are (currently) in my favor I'll live to see the video release.

Re:Regal Cinema (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087687)

Before.

It wasn't a camcorder. It was a digital camera which at most could shoot a minute or so of video. Ask her to stop. Kick her out. Fair. Reasonable.
Prosecute her? Unreasonable.
Shove it down their throats.

Re:Regal Cinema (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087399)

Why? Because they called the police on someone that was seen recording the movie? As I said above, someone saw someone breaking the law and reported it. The theatre called the police and is going to let the justice system handle it. How is the theatre supposed to know how long she was recording the movie? Why should they believe her? Better to let it be handled in court.

Re:Regal Cinema (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087481)

"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."

Why? Because they were stupid and/or ignorant and tried to pull this off?

Now here's the slick part if she has a good lawyer. If they missed the disclaimer at the begining of the movie about recording devices then perhaps there would be an argument (abeit very slight argument). But then again, IGNORANCE OF THE LAW is no excuse according to the law. Besides, who would want to sit through a movie with a warning posted at the bottom of the screen the whole time.

Re:Regal Cinema (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087497)

And just for good measure, sing a few bars of Alice's Restaurant, so they know it's a movement!

"Stealing" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087271)

They will get let off. Nothing was stolen.

Re:"Stealing" (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087363)

They will not "get let off". It will cost them at least lost wages and lawyer fees. To save themselves the expense of a trial they will probably have to plead guilty and pay a fine.

Justice (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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]

Re:Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087443)

You realize that "Jean-Luc Picard" is make-believe, right?

Re:Justice (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087525)

*groans* Then credit Worley Thorne and Ralph Wills, that episode's writers.

Re:Justice (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087697)

"Justice","no", "be" and "law" are absolutes.

Stupid... (4, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

This is what juries are for (2)

00_NOP (559413) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087279)

No jury will convict in such a case, assuming we've been given the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I'm choosing AMC this weekend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087283)

Let me say, F* you, REGAL... I guess I know which theater I'm going to see The Simpsons in this weekend...I wish others would follow suit. And I won't even have a camcorder!

Only a year? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087289)

They should tack on two or three for being an idiot. Transformers? Who, but idiots, goes to that movie? It was a stupid cartoon.

She is HOT!!! (0, Offtopic)

Major Blud (789630) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087303)

After seeing her picture on the article, I forgot all about copyright infringement.

I'm sorry for the couple, but... (2, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087309)

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.

errata (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087459)

Oops. It was the GIRL who was videotaping. Double ouch.

Re:I'm sorry for the couple, but... (1)

JoshHeitzman (1122379) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087563)

"A sad but true statement: Ignorance of the law is no excuse." Considering that there are know more laws on the books then the average person could ever comprehend and remember at all times, ignorance of the law should be an excuse. When the law is no longer just, should we still follow it? Should the theater employees be excused for not knowing the copyright laws well enough to know that they include provisions for fair use and that seeing someone one with a camcorder in a theater isn't automatically copyright infringement and doesn't become so until enough of the movie has been filmed that it no longer constitutes fair use?

The time length is irrelevent. (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087317)

Sounds like she stopped her while recording. Thats why the lenght is so short. EVERYONE knows not to record movies. The law doesnt stipulate a lenth of time. It says none at all. I been caught doing something briefly too. It sucks, but thats life. We all do stupid things for fun and regret it real bad when we get in trouble.

The length is VERY important (4, Insightful)

ebcdic (39948) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087431)

The length of the slip is one of the key points in deciding whether it's fair use or not.

Re:The time length is irrelevent. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087633)

I been caught doing something briefly too. It sucks, but thats life.

That should teach you to lock the door the next time you take a Playboy into the bathroom.

So there I was... (0)

Xest (935314) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087353)

Just minding my own business, driving round in this car that wasn't mine and these cops came and pulled me over and arrested me, I was like "WTF? I was only joyrid.. I mean driving round in it for 20 seconds!".

Don't get me wrong I hate the RIAA as much as the next Slashdotter and I don't really agree with heavy handed tactics but at the same time the law is the law and I don't think it's the brightest thing to do. Frankly when I go into a cinema I feel a bit uneasy about even having a camera phone because I know how bitchy they can be so I keep it in my pocket at all times. There's also not really any way we can verify the truth of her story, for all we know this could just be her excuse and she could just as well have been sat for half an hour recording like that before they decided to call the police in.

As has been mentioned here already, at the end of the day it's for the courts to decide whether she just made a silly mistake or if she was a fully fledged movie pirate. Arrrrr.

"Regal" info... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087361)

Regal Entertainment Group corporate offices are located at 7132 Regal Lane, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37918.

Our phone number is 1-865-922-1123 and our fax number is 1-865-922-3188.

Our customer relations number is 877-TELLREGAL or 1-877-835-5734.

Our investor hotline is 1-866-REGALEG or 1-866-734-2534.

Michael L. Campbell > Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer
Officer Since: 03/2002
Age: 53

Gregory W. Dunn > President, Chief Operating Officer
Officer Since: 03/2002
Age: 47

Amy E. Miles > Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President, Treasurer
Officer Since: 03/2002
Age: 40

Peter B. Brandow > Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary
Age: 46

Peter B. Brandow is Regal Entertainment Group Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary and has served as such since March 2002. Mr. Brandow has served as the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Regal Cinemas, Inc. since July 2001, and prior to that time he served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Regal Cinemas, Inc. since February 2000. Prior thereto, Mr. Brandow served as Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary from February 1999 when he joined Regal Cinemas, Inc. From September 1989 to January 1999, Mr. Brandow was an associate with the law firm Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett.

Brandow has exercised at least >$4M in stock options over the past 2 years according to yahoo finance.

You have the right to remain silent. (1)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087367)

You have the right to have an attorney present. I recommend finding a good one. Twenty seconds is dangerously close to fair use, and any decent attorney ought to be able to get this thrown out.

Re:You have the right to remain silent. (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087489)

20 seconds might have been all she was able to record before they stopped her. Anyways, she will probably just get a slap on the wrist if her story is true.

Re:You have the right to remain silent. (1)

JoshHeitzman (1122379) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087679)

How on earth could the cops have gotten there twenty seconds after she started filming?

It isn't much (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

With 'zero-tolerance' why do we need Judges (1)

deweycheetham (1124655) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087381)

Guess they need to make an example of someone, so the kids are done for, American Justice at its finest. *Brand me as Flamebait and ding my Karma down again.

stupid (0)

Gogo0 (877020) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087397)

It is an excessive punishment, but they were being stupid to begin with.
And whats with the cute little story? Do you really think people need to be manipulated into thinking the punishment was too harsh?

Re:stupid (1)

be951 (772934) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087587)

No one has been punished yet. RTFA, or at least the summary.

If convicted, she could be sentenced to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.
More likely if the facts in the story are accurate, she will get a small fine with no jail time if the case even proceeds.

the test of civilization (5, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087409)

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)

Re:the test of civilization (1)

PadRacerExtreme (1006033) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087579)

but the punishment must ALWAYS be less severe than the crime itself

Hmmm... So if I steal $100,000 from a bank, the punishment should be to return the $100,000? After all, that is the crime itself.
Punishment is supposed to be a deterrent. Therefore, the punishment should be worse than the crime.

Re:the test of civilization (1)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087681)

Punishment must be less than the crime. Punishment+restitution can be more than the crime.

So the punishment for stealing $100,000 should be returning the $100,000 plus some other penalties valued, on average, at less than $100,000.

I'm not sure I agree with the GP, but your argument is really silly.

Re:the test of civilization (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087599)

but the punishment must ALWAYS be less severe than the crime itself
I disagree. Pedo-rapists should be executed, IMHO.

Re:the test of civilization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087603)

chopping someone's head off for prostitution, is not civilization

Their head, that's not even logical?

Re:the test of civilization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087665)

is that the punishment is less severe than the crime
So what would you suggest as a fine for stealing $100?

$90?

Re:the test of civilization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087667)

"but the punishment must ALWAYS be less severe than the crime itself,"

That is just silly. If I get fined 50$ for stealing $100, what is my incentive to stop? Game theory says go for it! Punishment should be proportional to the crime, but making it less will only encourage.

Just makes it easy (3, Interesting)

kalpol (714519) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087413)

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.

Stealing what? (2, Funny)

Heftklammerdosierer! (846009) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087421)

Photons?

mo3 down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087423)

Fair Use (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087437)

If it really was only 20 seconds then this will get tossed out [wikipedia.org] . Two year old acts don't supersede Constitutional> [wikipedia.org] rights [wikipedia.org] .

Bah (5, Insightful)

starX (306011) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087453)

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... (5, Insightful)

Cleon (471197) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087457)

It just goes to show that "Zero Tolerance" might as well be a synonym for "Zero Intelligence."

Morals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087471)

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


Any company that has no moral capability should not be allowed to exist. By making
the "non-decision" of allowing a judge and jury to decide if these people are guilty
of stealing a movie, the company automatically cost them several thousand dollars,
days of their time, and if they are unlucky a felony conviction. Does anyone believe
that these people deserved this? Anyone?

Personally I would never do business with a company that I knew acted with such a lack
of respect for morality.

Re:Morals (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087673)

They saw her filming the movie, the called the cops. How are they supposed to know what her intent was? Why should they believe her? I certainly wouldn't put the camera back in her hands to prove it. Imagine if she was actually trying to cam the entire movie. Someone sees her, police get called. She tells this sob story of showing her little brother a clip of the action movie. She takes the digital to show you she only recorded 20 seconds and "accidentally" deletes the recording. Send it to court, keep the camera in proper chain of custody.

it was entrapment (1)

mozkill (58658) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087493)

If they can prove that the theatre actually let them walk into the theatre without warning them that the camera was illegal, then they might be able to prove that the theatre actually assisted them in filming the 20-second clip.

Also, if the theatre saw the camera, and then decided to follow them and check to see if they were using it in the theatre, you could almost say that they were trapped. If that was the case, they still saw the camera, let them pass the entryway and they still assisted in the filming.

Re:it was entrapment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087719)

No, for the millionth time, this isn't entrapment. Entrapment, by definition, requires a police officer to do the coercing.

Usual invented loss figure (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087501)

They claim they lost $18.2 billion last year through taping in cinemas?

How do they come up with such stupid figures? are cinemas closing, are films not being made anymore?

Of course not. I would estimate the losses are in the low millions at most. You can't just seize thousands of dodgy DVD and put a loss figure on them. You can't prove if that person did or did not see the film.

It's all lies lies and statistics.

"They were the victim in this case, and they felt (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087523)

... strongly enough about it"

Did they now ? I feel very strongly about them too, and i would like to explain my feelings in a very much Turkish way, however civility for the sake of slashdot bars me.

"Victim" - those morons do not know the real meaning of being a "victim".

1776 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087527)

I'd like to comment on this and what the American people should do to take back their government from the big corporations, their lobbyists, and their campaign funding, to put an end to this sort of idiocy, but if I did, Homeland Security would probably take an interest in me.

Uhh... they are managers? (1)

Razed By TV (730353) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087549)

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."
If the managers cannot think for themselves, make decisions for themselves, and evaluate situations for themselves, why are they managers? Zero tolerance policy or not, it is disturbing that the National Association of Theater Owners is suggesting that the managers cannot think for themselves and that an organization could do a better job, doing their thinking for them.

Not very bright (1, Troll)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087557)

Taking a camcorder to a movie theater is just not very bright, is it? Time for "jhannet" and the submitter to wake up and smell the fascism -- this ain't your Dad's United States of America, after all. I mean what are you going to do next, joke about having a bomb in a government office and then submit a /. sob sory about going to prison?

I'm sorry, but IMO if this person gets punished it's just Darwinism in action.

zero tolerance (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087559)

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.'"

If they can't tell the difference between good copying and bad copying then they should have a 'complete-tolerance' policy. 'Better to let 10 guilty men walk free than punish 1 innocent one' and all that.

Zero-Tolerance (1)

Xybre (527810) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087575)

Hrm, I can't think of a situation where Zero-Tolerance Policies haven't caused problems.

Okay, lets make one up.
Murder. Lets make killing someone a zero-tolerance offense, you kill someone, you get the chair.
I can hear you saying "Uh, but xybre sir, it's murder.. ya know.. it's not like it's legal to kill people."
True enough. But take this instance, someone breaks into your house, they have a weapon and intent to kill, you have a weapon and kill them first. There's something called "self-defense" that comes into play. Zero-Tolerance means you either choose to let the guy kill you and your family, or you kill him and get the chair. What joy, you can't protect yourself with deadly force anymore, better buy a tranq gun.

Real life examples of Zero-Tolerance not working?
Stories from the Hellmouth anyone?
Mandatory sentences?

For 20 seconds of a clip??
Really?
How is this helping you MPAA?
You're going to go all RIAA and start suing people who were never even at the theatre, who've never seen the movie? Amish parents? A dog who wandered in?

This must be stopped. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087585)

If people are allowed 20 second recordings, then imagine the wide-scale distributed piracy that be accomplished. Let's assume everyone records 20 seconds, with 2.5 seconds overflow on their 15 second section to allow splicing together. That's 4 people a minute. If the movie is two hours, you'd only need 240 people to capture an hour.

Talk about your "frivolous lawsuits". (1)

amper (33785) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087601)

This is an egregious abuse of our legal system and public safety officials. The proper way to handle the situation would have been to temporarily confiscate the offending equipment pending destruction of the copied material, and remove the offending party from the theatre. Problem solved.

Regardless of what anyone thinks about copyright in general, ignorance of the law is no excuse; however, the fact that a law exists is no excuse to abuse a violator, alleged or convicted, with prejudice and with cruel and usual punishment.

I hope the poor girl countersues the plaintiff.

Was it really just 20 seconds? (1)

Alphi1 (557250) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087609)

I suspect it will hinge on two things: 1) Whether the "20 seconds" of footage really was just 20 seconds, or if it was longer (like a minute or two), and "seemed" like only 20 seconds to them. 2) At what point they stopped recording - in other words, if they stopped recording when the manager/cops showed up, they'll have a hard time convincing anyone that they planned to stop recording prior to getting caught.

Another KDawson special (0, Flamebait)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087617)

Look at the story-twisting here. The title is "A Year In Prison For a 20-Second Film Clip?" The text, however, reads: "If convicted, she could be sentenced to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine."

Emphasys mine, of course. The law provides for up to a year here, it seems, and she is rather unlikely to get any of that, if the write-up tells the truth...

KDawson's attempts to spread the DailyKos fearmongering to /. really ought to end. I can almost see a line running through his screen: "BushNazi alert: ELEVATED".

20 Sec Clip for her brother (1)

Fox_1 (128616) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087623)

With everything going on in the copyright world too
1. bring a camcorder into a movie theatre ,
2. actually use the camcorder to record any part of the movie
Strikes me as the height of stupidity, she could have just sent her brother a link to the Trailer. [yahoo.com] She's 20 years old, she should know better, I really wish I could be on her side, but I can't, this is just pure stupidity on her part and if she gets a year in jail it's no diff then a 20 year old shoplifter. I'm willing to bet that she looked around for people watching her before she pulled the camera out, because she knew it was wrong.
Though on another note - it's also the height of obviousness to everybody but the public facing film industry that people videotaping movies for profit is a myth from a Seinfeld episode [wikipedia.org] , the reality is that the illegal/unlicensed Movie Copies are coming from industry members copying screener discs and distributing them from profit.

Nonsense (2, Insightful)

Vengance Daemon (946173) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087629)

When they say: "Theater managers cannot distinguish between good and bad stealing." They are obviously correct, I mean, they haven't been able to distinguish between good and bad movies for years.

Back in '39 when I was in the Marines, shop owners and schools and others had leeway and a little bit of good sense. If a kid swiped something in a store, the store owner could call the police, call the kid's parents, or give the kid a bit of a bad time to work off paying for the item or whatever seemed appropriate for the situation. Schools could show some good sense as well; but now-a-days, schools go stark staring berserk when a kid brings in a paring knife in to eat an orange, or the school cops use Tasers on 12-year olds having a tantrum.

The days of having a sense of proportion in the United States are over. "Zero tolerance" is a bad tool, and takes away any shred of individual judgment or good sense. It makes it easy to ruin someone or make them miserable with the excuse of "I was just following orders."

I stopped buying music because I dislike the policies and prices of members of the RIAA. I really don't like the movie theater experience any longer: Dirty theaters, insane prices for bad popcorn, and 22 minutes of commercials before the movie begins. My local library is a GREAT place to check out DVD movies and CD music.

If you do not like an entity's policies or prices, don't give them your money.

The fact (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087645)

that I can imagine them very well doing so *noisily* in the theater makes me feel no pity at all. Let them go to the special jail.

Good, maybe she'll learn something. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20087661)

Like courtesy. Even if what she did was benign, it was rude to the other people around her. Yanking out a video camera while other people are trying to enjoy the movie they payed 10 bucks to see is rude and thoughtless. I don't care if it was the dumb broad's birthday, maybe just showing a little common courtesy to other people around her would have kept her out of this situation.

Honestly, if someone in front of you opened up a camera and started recording even a short bit of the movie wouldn't that piss you off? It's just something you should have the common sense to not do, moreso because of the people around you than it's piracy.

copyright violations should not equal a felony (2, Insightful)

matt_king (19018) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087675)

Why do we treat copyright violations like they are the end of the free world? There is no reason that these civil issues between two parties need to get the federal government involved at the felony level. F hollywood and the legislators who are sitting in their pocket. Completely out of whack. And people think the patent system is bad! Not trying to flame here, but this whole thing really irks me to no end.

Eh? (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087683)

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

Please educate me - in the land of the free, does the "victim" really get the final say as to whether to actually prosecute a criminal charge against an individual (as opposed to the discretion to press charges or not, and/or bring a civil case)?

Well, OB-viously (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 7 years ago | (#20087691)

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

"[...] because for some reason the only people we can hire as theater managers are sub-human morons."

What a load of bull. Have a little faith in your employees, guys. If I were a theater manager, I'd be really insulted. Especially since the training isn't that hard. Here, try this:

WHEN A CAMCORDER IS FOUND OPERATING IN YOUR THEATER
1) Pull the customer with the camcorder from the theater.
2) Rewind the clip to see how long it is.
      a) Over two minutes? Yep, that's a problem. Seize camera, call the cops, end.
      b) Under two minutes? Likely not a problem. Check the previous clips on the camera.
            b.1) Previous clips are also of this movie? Seize camera, call the cops, end.
            b.2) Previous clips are of something else entirely? Not a problem.
      c) Customer refuses to rewind and display camera contets? Seize camera, call the cops, end.
3) Warn customer that cameras are not allowed in the theater at all.
4) Return camera to customer.
5) Boot customer from premises with no refund.

There. It's even small enough to put on a little card your managers can carry around just in case they're forgetful.
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