MPAA Nabs 5 for ‘Transformer’ CAMs

Theater employees and PATRONS team up to help bust pirates across the country.

In an odd twist of 4th of July unity, movie theater employees and patrons across the country teamed up last week to bust 4 more individuals for trying to make camcorder copies of “Transformers.”

Even though the movie sucked in my opinion, (C’mon now, Optimus Prime saying “Oh, my Bad?”), the effort to get it out to the masses via “alternative distribution methods” continued unabated, and theater security teams and civilian collaborators were able to catch a few of them.

“These arrests serve as a reminder to potential movie thieves that whether you use a camcorder or a cell phone, stealing movies off the silver screen is a crime and you will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Dan Glickman, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

“Once again, theatre employees and theatre patrons have worked together to protect the art form they love, by intercepting movie thieves in the act of their crime. Thieves beware — if you attempt to steal movies off the screen, we will find you and we will have you arrested.” said John Fithian, President and CEO of The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).

The first arrest was made in the Bronx, New York, by the New York Police Department just prior to the July Fourth holiday. The suspect was observed by security personnel in the American Theater for illegally camcording Transformers on its opening day. This defendant was the first to be charged under an amended law passed by the City Council and signed into law May 1 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that increases penalties for camcorder suspects in New York City. The defendant faces up to six months imprisonment, fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 and a civil penalty up to $5,000.

On the 4th of July, in El Centro, California, the projection manager at the Ultra Star Cinema observed a suspect recording an evening showing of Transformers using a Nokia camera/video phone. The El Centro Police Department was alerted and officers arrested the suspect who now faces up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.

Also on July 4th, a movie patron (read collaborator), reported to theater management that an individual was using her cell phone to record Transformers at Marcus Cinemas in Addison, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. Theater security and Addison Police were called and Addison Police arrested a 27yo female for violation of Illinois’ Camcord Statute — a misdemeanor, and for Trespassing. The suspect faces up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,000 and a probationary period of up to two years. The Trespass violation carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and up to $500 in fines, followed by a probationary period of up to one year.

Late last week an employee at the AMC Universal Theater in Orlando, Florida observed a guy recording an afternoon screening of Transformers and alerted theater management who then summoned the Orlando Police Department. Officers confiscated the man ’s recording device and found that over 30 minutes of the film had already been recorded. The suspect was taken into custody and faces up to one year in jail and fines up to $1000.

Then over the weekend, a movie patron at the AMC Discovery Mills 18 Theatre in Lawrenceville, Georgia, notified theater management that an individual was using a small camera to record Transformers. An off-duty Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Deputy employed by the theater observed the suspect and made the arrest. The Sheriff’s Deputy seized a small Sony camera along with almost an ounce of marijuana found in the suspect’s pocket. Violation of Georgia’s anti-camcorder statute can result in up to one year in jail and/or fines up to $1000.

CAMs comprise some 90% of the newly released movies that end up on streetcorners, flea markets, and illegal file-sharing networks.