Industry acknowledges Hong Kong staff preventing illegal movie camcords


MUMBAI: Prompt action by alert frontline cinema staff resulting in the arrest of a woman and a man on suspicion of illegally camcording movies from cinema screens were today acknowledged and rewarded by the presentation of letters of appreciation and cash rewards.


The woman was arrested by officers from the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department (HKC&ED) on suspicion of using a mobile phone to illegally camcord A Nightmare on Elm Street at the Broadway Olympian City Cinema on 23 May. The man was arrested on 24 May on suspicion of using a digital camera to illegally record Ip Man 2 at the UA Times Square Cinema.


The two arrested people are currently under investigation by HKC&ED officers and face criminal charges for having in their possession video equipment in a place of public entertainment. The latest arrest is the fifth this year and the eighth 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 was fined HK$1,000 (US$128) and his two mobile phones were confiscated.


Letters of appreciation were presented to nine members of cinema staff and rewards of HK$2,000 (US$256) given to representatives of the Broadway Olympian City Cinema and the UA Times 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 and Broadway Circuit’s operations manager Jazz Lung.


“Working together the movie production and distribution industry will continue to make life as difficult as possible for the people who want to steal our livelihood,” said the HKTA’s vice chairman Chui Hin-wai. “On behalf of HKTA members I extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to our frontline cinema staff and the Hong Kong Customs for their support in our struggle against piracy.”


“If movie fans want to continue to enjoy a wide range of great movies the creativity, investment and hard work that goes into movies has to be rewarded,” said the Ip Man 2 executive producer Raymond Wong. “Movie fans should watch movies in the cinema and on legitimate DVDs and if they see anyone stealing a movie in a cinema they should report it to cinema staff right away.”


“Eight people arrested for illegally camcording movies in the last ten months; the figures speak for themselves,” said IFACT-GC’s Sam Ho. “Anyone illegally camcording a movie in a Hong Kong cinema will be arrested and prosecuted. So my advice to anyone thinking of doing it is: Think again.”


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 pirated movies found in hard goods or online since 2009 were camcorded from Hong Kong cinemas.


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.