Recording devices officially banned in Manila cinemas

The Motion Picture Association (MPA) welcomed the introduction of a City Ordinance that criminalizes the unauthorized recording of movies in cinemas in Manila.

The Film Protection Ordinance was passed by the Manila City Council on 28 July and came into effect on 12 August. It bars the use of a recording device in a movie cinema. The Ordinance provides for penalties of up to six months in prison or a fine up to $110.

The new Ordinance is the latest in a raft of measures the Philippines is taking to countercamcording. Another City Ordinance is understood to be nearing implementation by the Quezon City Council and legislation has recently been introduced in the Congress that would criminalize camcording at a national level.

In late June, the MPAPC (Motion Picture Anti-Piracy Council) in coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) launched an anti-camcording campaign.

"The passing of this Ordinance is both timely and necessary. As a step in the right direction againstcamcording, it serves to complement the public awareness campaign, the use of nightvision goggles and the step-up in enforcement by the authorities in cinemas acrossManila. We are gravely concerned with the severity of the problem of illegal camcording in the Philippines. Since the start of this year, there have been 29 cases, a 322 per cent increase ascompared to all of 2007. This latest measure follows other countries in the region and should raise the risks involved. It puts the pirates on notice that they will pay very dearly for this crime, when and not if, they get caught," said MPA president and managing director, Asia-Pacific Mike Ellis.

In Asia Pacific, the number of successful unauthorized recordings has risen exponentially. There were 70 from this region so far in 2008. This is a 412 per cent increase over the same period in 2007 when there were 17.

It is particularly damaging because it occurs at the very start of the distribution cycle, affecting the economic opportunities for the film throughout the rest of its existence. Films are camcorded in the first few days of their release, then distributed in digital form worldwide on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and other online outlets. Optical disc-replication labs use the pirated films to create illegal DVDs and other optical discs, and then sell the physical copies to bootleg dealers aroundthe world.