MUMBAI: Hong Kong frontline cinema staff helped in arresting two men who were illegally camcording movies from cinema screens. The staff have been acknowledged and rewarded by the presentation of letters of appreciation and cash rewards.
Both men were arrested by officers from the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department (HKC&ED), the first on suspicion of illegally camcording the trailer of A Nightmare on Elm Street at the Broadway Tsuen Wan Cinema on 12 May and the other for recording Go Find A Psychic, at the UA Times Square Cinema, on 15 May. It is believed that a mobile phone was used to illegally record the trailer of A Nightmare on Elm Street while it is believed a digital camera was used to illegally record Go Find A Psychic.
Both men face criminal charges for having in their possession video equipment in a place of public entertainment and the incidents are currently under investigation by HKC&ED officers. The latest arrest is the third this year, and the sixth since September 2009, as cinemas across Hong Kong maintain a high level of vigilance to prevent illegal camcording.
In January this year, a 64-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of using two mobile phones to illegally camcord almost 90 minutes of the movie Avatar in the Palace apm Cinema in Kwun Tong. He has since been charged with possession of video equipment in a place of public entertainment and is due to appear in court this week.
At award ceremonies held at the Broadway Tsuen Wan Cinema and the UA Times Square Cinema in Causeway Bay , letters of appreciation were presented to seven members of cinema staff and a reward of HK$2,000 (US$256) each to representatives of the Broadway Tsuen Wan Cinema and the UA Time Square Cinema. The presentations were made by International Federation Against Copyright Theft – Greater China (IFACT-GC) executive director and general manager Sam Ho and were witnessed by representatives from the movie distribution industry, including Hong Kong Theatres Association (HKTA) vice chairman Chui Hin-wai, Warner Bros. Pictures International’s sales manager Avenant Tang, Broadway Circuit’s operations manager Jazz Lung as well as UA Cinema Circuit Limited’s area manager Michael Lee.
“Hong Kong’s theatre owners are determined to keep these movie thieves out of our cinemas because we know how damaging the theft of a movie from a cinema screen can be,” said Chui Hin-wai. “Full credit must be given to our front line theatre staff – it is their vigilance that has led to the arrest of six movie camcorders in the last nine months.”
“Thanks to a combined effort by all stakeholders it is becoming very difficult for piracy syndicates to source movies from Hong Kong cinemas,” said Sam Ho. “However, we are aware that these criminals will change their tactics to try to defeat our prevention strategy so I urge all movie goers not to record movies off the screen – even if they think they’re doing it “just for fun”. There is nothing funny about the damage illegal camcords do to the movie production and distribution business that provide wealth, jobs and enjoyment for many, many people. Don’t camcord and if you see anyone else doing it, please discreetly inform cinema staff.”
Forensic matching confirmed that nine movies were stolen from Hong Kong cinemas in 2008 and used to produce pirated DVDs and / or used in infringing downloads. As a result of the joint efforts of the HKTA, the HKC&ED and the IFACT-GC, no movies have been camcorded from Hong Kong cinemas and found in hard goods or online since 2009.
Under Hong Kong law, a person commits an offence if they have in their possession (without lawful authority or reasonable excuse) any video recording equipment in a place of public entertainment. Anyone breaking this law may be fined up to HK$50,000 and imprisoned for up to three months. Any person convicted of illegally camcording a movie may be imprisoned for up to four years.