So Why Did The MPAA Need New Camcording Laws Again?

from the please-explain dept

You may recall that throughout 2007, the MPAA was on something of a worldwide campaign to get governments to pass new laws with stricter punishment for “camcording” movies. Of course, camcording is not really a big deal. The quality is bad, and DVD-quality releases find their way to pirates pretty quickly anyway. The “losses” from camcorded movies are minimal, though it didn’t stop the MPAA from totally making up numbers that were clearly bogus. Each place they pressured to get new laws apparently represented some huge percentage of camcorded movies on the market, such that if you added them up, you were talking about well over 100%. Then, of course, there was the case where they claimed that anti-camcording laws in the US had wiped out piracy in the US. Of course, that was when they were pushing for such laws in Canada. Two months later when they were pushing for such laws in the US, suddenly New York represented 40% of all camcorded movies.

However, what was most disturbing was the idea existing laws weren’t already enough to deal with whatever “problem” camcording represented. So, it’s rather interesting to see that a guy who was caught camcording movies in Maryland was just sentenced to 21 months in prison under a 2005 law. So why did the MPAA scream bloody murder about needing new, more stringent laws in 2007? As for someone getting 21 months in prison for filming a movie that was probably already available online from a studio leak, well, that’s a different issue for another day…

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Companies: mpaa

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Comments on “So Why Did The MPAA Need New Camcording Laws Again?”

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31 Comments
Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Security Theatre

Just as with the airlines, the point is ‘Security Theatre’.

The point is to instill in the audience’s mind the idea that copying is an incredibly serious crime – tantamount to terrorism.

Of course, no-one seriously wishing to make a saleable/high-quality copy of a movie is going to use a camcorder, or even take a 30 second clip with a mobile phone.

If, inevitably, a few naive punters end up serving time because of this draconian law, well no doubt there will be plenty of crocodile tears shed by certain industry executives who lobbied for this legislation.

I think the law is actually counter-productive, even to dissuade the audience from buying domestic DVD burners to make backup copies of the DVDs they borrow from friends, rent, or download.

But, hey, they need to justify their salaries…

Monarch says:

Re: He got what he deserved

Michial, you are a moron, and we should pass draconian laws that put ppl like you in jail for almost 2 years. For stealing my precious time reading you’re inarticulate and uninformed comments. I will admit the guys was stupid and broke a law, but in my opinion, 21 months is unconstitutional, as it should be considered cruel and unusual punishment! He didn’t steal anything, he was making a physical copy of a movie he paid to see, unauthorized copyright infringement. To me, that would constitute getting kicked out of the theater, and maybe a petty misdemeanor with a small fine. Not a criminal offense!
The guy would actually get a lesser conviction if he went to Walmart and stole the DVD when it came out. And in that case, he would actually be stealing.

DanC says:

Re: He got what he deserved

Now where is the laws that make accomplisses out of those that promote this stupid fucking crap that steeling another’s work should be perfectly legal.

They’re probably sitting right next to the laws that would outlaw poor grammar and spelling.

Congratulations on missing the point of the article – that there are already laws on the books to cover the camcorder recording “emergency” the MPAA is campaigning against.

I should also probably point out once again that it’s infringement, not “steeling” and the article isn’t defending the guy at all. It’s simply pointing out that 21 months and a felony charge for 2 counts of recording in a movie theatre seems excessive.

Luci says:

Re: He got what he deserved

And yet another uneducated person enters the foray confusing ‘copyright infringement’ with ‘theft.’ You cannot steal copyrighted goods. That would assume you take all available works and make them unavailable to anyone else rather than making a copy of the work for yourself. If you’re going to be a panda against the bleeding heart liberals, then at least make sure you are using proper terminology so you don’t come off a moron.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: He got what he deserved

Prison terms should be for *real* crimes, NOT a fucking civil issue.

Sue the guy for an outrageous sum so he has to declare bankruptcy, but you DON’T go lock up people for a “victimless” crime and throw them in with murderers, rapists, thieves, etc.

And before the obvious counter argument, NO he doesn’t count as a thief. It’s called copyright infringement. Look it up sometime. Getting a little tired of hearing people wanting to treat so-called “pirates” worse than REAL criminals.

tack says:

Re: He got what he deserved

21 months? There are people that have done home invasions and got less. Plus there is no real proof that recording a movie he paid to see hurt anyone. While common sense says it’ll make it to the internet, but common sense also says 100 other people already have cam’d it and all this guy did was get caught wasting his time. And plus f the mpaa.

Michial (user link) says:

He got what he deserved

Did he have permission to record the movie? NO. Was his actions illegal? YES. Was he punished? Yes.

Just or not, his punishment was surprisingly low. Punishment under the law is intended as much to deter the behavior as it is to punish the individual for his actions. Until self righteous thieves (semantics or not) stop breaking these laws and crying that they are unconstitutional the punishments will only get worse.

This guy broke the law, he got caught, he went to jail. Too bad, those of you passing your crap about IP being non tangible hence cannot be stolen should be sitting right next to him as accomplices.

Good luck with your agenda, not sure if you noticed but the majority of us believe that your thieves and deserve to be in jail for steeling our hard work. Perhaps while you are there you can learn about how much effort goes into these works.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: He got what he deserved

“Did he have permission to record the movie? NO. Was his actions illegal? YES. Was he punished? Yes.”

It is called COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.

It is a CIVIL crime. NOT a PENAL crime.

You do NOT get JAIL TIME for CIVIL crimes.

It’s amazing the DOJ hasn’t struck down the law as unconstitutional.

nasch says:

Re: Re: He got what he deserved

Actually “civil crime” is a misnomer, because the two legal codes are civil and criminal. So you could say this was a civil offense, not a criminal offense. “Penal” means having to do with punishment (penalty). On the other hand, since this ended up as a penal matter, apparently it is, in fact, a criminal offense.

And the DOJ (thankfully) doesn’t have the authority to strike down laws, only to enforce them and investigate crime. The courts strike down laws as unconstitutional.

DanC says:

Re: He got what he deserved

Did he have permission to record the movie? NO. Was his actions illegal? YES. Was he punished? Yes.

Did the article (or anyone in the comments) say otherwise? NO.

Just or not, his punishment was surprisingly low. Punishment under the law is intended as much to deter the behavior as it is to punish the individual for his actions.

Perhaps if he had been charged for all the movies he was suspected of recording, the punishment would have fit the crime. For 2 counts, the punishment seems excessive.

This guy broke the law, he got caught, he went to jail. Too bad, those of you passing your crap about IP being non tangible hence cannot be stolen should be sitting right next to him as accomplices.

It’s not really that difficult to understand Michial. Copyright infringement isn’t stealing, but it’s still illegal. How you conflate that with “promoting” illegal activity is a mystery.

Good luck with your agenda, not sure if you noticed but the majority of us believe that your thieves and deserve to be in jail for steeling our hard work. Perhaps while you are there you can learn about how much effort goes into these works.

Michial, to date you’ve been unable to provide a coherent rationale to support your beliefs. Insinuating that anyone who realizes that copyright infringement isn’t theft must be breaking the law themselves is a ridiculous logical fallacy. Basically, you’re promoting thought crime in frustration over your inability to present a valid argument.

Rin D says:

Re: He got what he deserved

Hey, Michial, his point is that laws like these are a waste of prison space. When our government and law system is punishing people who video record a movie they paid to see heavier than say – A person who smacks around their wife – then we have some serious issues with the movie industry shoveling their horse-shit in where they’re spending lots of our lawful resources to ensure they can make MORE money.

Movie crews get paid the same, actors, publishers, companies – paid when the movie is made. After that? The movie overlords get their cut, movies being an investment for them to make and nothing more.

Quit YOUR agenda dude. Jail is filling up with small time crooks, who in my opinion, don’t affect anyone except the fat-cats that line their wallets with money. Stop thinking you’re self righteous to “not steal movies”. You’ve just bought into a simple brainwashing technique by the MPAA.

They should be happy that their movies are even worth recording, otherwise people would be content just not seeing it. Get your head out of the clouds, the MPAA helps no one but big money-cows eating away at the greens to buy their 6th mansion.

eleete (user link) says:

Re: He got what he deserved

“This guy broke the law, he got caught, he went to jail. Too bad, those of you passing your crap about IP being non tangible hence cannot be stolen should be sitting right next to him as accomplices.

Good luck with your agenda, not sure if you noticed but the majority of us believe that your thieves and deserve to be in jail for steeling our hard work. Perhaps while you are there you can learn about how much effort goes into these works.”

First off it’s “you’re thieves” not “your thieves”. Even that is a broad stroke since somehow you equate our discussion as somehow contributing to that infringement which clearly is NOT theft, but you would like us (all apparently) jailed. Ever hear of free speech? WE are all free to be for or against ANY law that is passed by our polluticians, in ANY forum be it verbal or text (though not in the world you live in apparently).

Secondly, according to you, I have just infringed your IP rights by copying and pasting, come and get me !!

Beyond that, perhaps you or the artists who worked oh so hard (boo hoo hoo) should be presented with a bill for the costs of living these people will incur that you wish to see jailed so quickly, including their ‘accomplices’.

I bet if that scenario played out, you and your fictitious ‘majority’ would be thinking twice about the expense to society both financially and culturally. After all there is an excessive amount of profit the MPAA benefits from even with all the ‘piracy’. You want to see people in jail ? Let’s see YOU pay for that.

NullOp says:

Got what he deserved?

Twentyone months of a persons life for stealing a movie? Way overkill! I’ve seen more movies where the producer should have received jail-time for making the damn thing! Anyone who watches a camcorded movie is being punished.

I hope the guy gets some serious public service time rather than real jail-time. I think it would impress on him the fact that stealing movies is a crime. The professionals that make these movies do deserve to get paid for their work.

John says:

What did he steal?

Did he not pay his admission to the theater? Is he not allowed to remember scenes and dialog from the movie he just paid to see? If he needs to take notes to help him remember is that a crime? Video note taking is a more effecient method. Many students do this in classrooms and are not jailed. Stand up for your freedom ppl.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: What did he steal?

XKCD Bookstore strip

I’m surprised they haven’t gone this far. There is an old saying that I think applies heavily to the RI/MPAA’s tactics, “The tighter you squeeze, the more it slips through your fingers.” The industry shits all over our fair use rights with DRM and predatory civil suits. Thanks to the DMCA, we are now criminals every time we practice fair use. They don’t value us as customers, why should we reward their greedy tactics with our money? Some of these pirates infringe on copyrights because they infringed on our rights. They need to know that stabbing their customers in the back because of some deviants is not acceptable. “Liberty and justice for all” my ass.

Chris Morris says:

Measured sentencing

This really brings up the whole idea that sentencing should fit the crime,
To give a example, its no good giving always giving a rapist life in prison, because after the offence is committed he may as well murder the victim as it increases the chances of getting off, without increasing the penalty.(excluding any death penalities, which we dont have where I live)
21 months for this offence is crazy, he may as well assaulted the people who caught him and tried to run away, as his sentence for any assault could harldy have made matters much worse. (and would probably run concurrent), therefore sentencing like this encourages more offences.

A crime like this, is at worst comparable to shop lifting which would not as a first offence warrant a prison sentence.

Benjie says:

Deserved?

“The idiot got 21 months because he was stupid, and tried breaking the law. He got what he deserved”

What’s “right” and “wrong” is based on how it affects people. If I give you $100 would you consider that wrong? If you stabbed someone, would you sonsider that right?.. No. Obviously one helps and the other hurts

Now, what hurts more, labeling a large percentage of colelge students/low income people as theives and putting them in prison where tax payers pay for room and board while screwing over that persons future… or.. letting them get away with not paying a multi-billion dollar company $20 a movie?

Did you know the more likely a person is to pirate a movie/song, the more likely they are to purchase a movie or song?

They’ve already shown that the LARGEST customer base for both movies and music are the MOST likely to pirate.

There are exceptions to the rules and people who ‘make a living’ from copying movies/music should get what’s due, but the ‘average’ person typically can’t offord every movie/song made and most people pride themselves on how many DVDs and CDs they own.

JIMMY says:

WRONG PEOPLE BEING CONVICTED OF A CRIME

HOW COME THERE ARE NO LAWS AGAINST THE MOVIE COMPANIES THAT ADVERTISE A MOVIE IS THE BIGGEST HIT OF THE YEAR AND WHEN YOU PAY A LARGE AMOUNT OF MONEY TO SEE THE MOVIE IT WINDS UP BEING THE BIGGEST BUST OF THE YEAR. ISN’T THIS STEALING YOUR MONEY AND EVEN WORST STEALING QUALITY TIME YOU COULD BE SPENDING WITH THE KIDS AND FAMILY. THIS IS SOMETHING FAR MORE PRECIOUS THAN A FEW BUCKS THAT THEY THINK THEY ARE LOSING FROM SOMEONE CAMCORDING A MOVIE.

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