TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: MPAA Demands Tougher Laws - Jail Time - For Bootleggers

MPAA Demands Tougher Laws - Jail Time - For Bootleggers

David Caruso (
Fri, 9 Dec 2005 12:28:18 -0600

By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press Writer

Every evening rush hour, hustlers lugging bags full of bootlegged
movies walk the subway train aisles, calling "two for five dollars!"
as brazenly as if they were selling hot dogs at Yankee Stadium. At
those prices, the DVDs, often of current Hollywood blockbusters, sell
well, despite laughable sound and picture quality. Few customers seem
to care the copies were made illegally.

Bootleggers apparently have little to fear. Under state law, people
caught videotaping inside a movie theater face a maximum fine of $250.

As part of its worldwide campaign against piracy, the film industry is
pushing for tougher penalties for smuggling a camcorder into a cinema
in New York, which has the country's worst bootlegging problem and
some of the weakest penalties.

A bill pushed by the Motion Picture Association of America would make
operating recording equipment inside a theater a criminal misdemeanor,
raising the maximum punishment to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.

Making the crime a misdemeanor also would empower police to arrest
violators on the spot, rather than simply issuing a summons.

People caught a second time would be charged with a felony.

"We have to do something, because right now there's no risk," said
William J. Shannon, a Yonkers-based deputy director of the
association's U.S. anti-piracy operation. "Right now, you're looking
at something about the same as a parking ticket."

Legislators, film industry representatives and lawyers met Wednesday
in Manhattan to discuss the new proposal, which would make New York
one of several states to adopt tougher rules on movie piracy in recent

But Pace Law School professor David N. Cassuto likened the use of
tough criminal penalties to attack the lowest-level offenders in
pirating operations to "using a howitzer to solve a roach problem."

The proposed penalties would also apply to an obnoxious 16-year-old
who holds up a camera phone during the coming attractions to snap a
photograph of the screen, warned defense attorney Marvin Schecter.

Through intricate watermarking technology, investigators can now
determine in which theater a film was playing when it was recorded by
someone with a handheld camera.

About half the bootleg films that are recorded live in a theater,
duplicated thousands of times, then sent around the globe originated
in New York City, the trade group said.


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Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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