Hollywood unveils anticamcording posters

MUMBAI: The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) unveiled new anti-camcording posters to be displayed in US movie theaters. The posters are aimed at raising awareness among moviegoers and potential movie thieves that camcording in movie theaters is a federal offense.

Camcorded movies often appear online within days of a film’s theatrical release, triggering an avalanche of illegal downloads and the massive replication and distribution of bootlegged DVDs.

“More than 90 per cent of newly released movies that end up on the Internet or in street markets around the world can be sourced to a single illegally camcorded movie from a movie theater. With these posters, we want to remind would-be camcord thieves that they can face serious consequences for engaging in this illegal activity and remind moviegoers to report any suspicious activity to theater management,” said MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman.

“Movie thieves are on notice that camcording in movie theaters is a crime. These new posters underscore our determination to stop illegal camcording in our theaters,” said NATO president and CEO John Fithian.

In 2005, President Bush signed the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, which made camcording in a theater a federal felony and established stiff penalties for illegally obtaining, distributing and/or selling copies of films that have not yet been released outside of a movie theater. First-time violators can be sentenced to five years and fined up to $250,000.

During the long legislative process that produced the anti-camcording law in 2005, some members of Congress raised concerns that movie patrons should be made aware that recording movies is illegal. The MPAA and NATO agreed to produce and distribute posters that notify patrons of the crime of camcording in theaters, and to recommend strongly that exhibitors display these posters. Continuing that assurance to Congress, the MPAA and NATO have replaced the outdated poster from 2005 with new, more visually attractive posters to engage the eyes of patrons in theater lobbies around the country.

The MPAA and NATO also work closely with theater employees to ensure that movies are protected from camcorders. In May 2004, the MPAA and NATO introduced the Take Action Reward Program, which rewards theater employees up to $500 when they identify, intercept, and report camcorder theft to law enforcement officers. Since the launch of the program, $50,000 has been awarded to 103 recipients. In 2006, the MPAA, NATO, the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association (CMPDA), and the Motion Picture Theatre Association of Canada (MPTAC) launched FightFilmTheft.org, an online theater employee training program in the US and Canada that has since expanded to include Latin America.

The worldwide motion picture industry, including foreign and domestic producers, distributors, theaters, video stores and pay-per-view operators lose more than $18 billion annually as a result of movie theft. More than $7 billion in losses are attributed to illegal Internet distributions, while $11 billion is the result of illegal copying and bootlegging. Losses to US movie theaters alone exceed $670 million.