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Senate Unanimously Passes Anti-Camcorder Bill 637

Posted by michael
from the guilty-as-charged dept.
jamonterrell writes "The US Senate just unanimously passed a bill allowing the criminal prosecution of recording movies with a camcorder in theatres. Victims of the new bill would face 3 years in prison on first offense (5 if it was done for profit), repeat offenders would get 10 years. As a side note, it will cost taxpayers an additional 5 million dollars per year through 2009 for enforcement." Several states have made recording in theaters a crime, although none of them have penalties nearly as harsh as this Senate bill.
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Senate Unanimously Passes Anti-Camcorder Bill

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  • by Osmosis_Garett (712648) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:02AM (#9535813)
    It will make them more elite and thus more sought after by release groups.
  • by Photo_Nut (676334) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:03AM (#9535814)
    I don't suppose anyone is going to come up with an argument saying that they are in the theaters with their camcorders excersizing their right to time shift... :)
    • by fenix down (206580) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:48AM (#9535963)
      "Zzzzzzzzzzz..."
      "Sir..."
      "Zzzzzzzwhazat?"
      "Yea h, uh, we're gonna be placing you under arrest..."
      "What? Oh, no, It's cool, I was kinda sleepy, so I'm time-shifting this for tomorrow morning."
      "Well, all right."
      "Yeah, whatever. ZZZZzzzzzzz..."
    • by gnu-generation-one (717590) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @06:25AM (#9536174) Homepage
      "I don't suppose anyone is going to come up with an argument saying that they are in the theaters with their camcorders excersizing their right to time shift... :)"

      So theoretically, would this make it worth your while to kill anyone who noticed you using the camcorder, if there was, say, a 60% chance that killing them allowed you to successfully escape? There must be some probability threshold before a "manslaughter-equivalent" jail sentance for videoing makes it worth your while to do bad things if you get caught...

      How does the person sitting next to you in the cinema feel about this, compared to say, the managing director of the company who invested in the film?
    • Bill text (Score:5, Informative)

      by 0x0d0a (568518) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @07:10AM (#9536274) Journal
      You *could* disable your camcorder (cover the lens or whatnot) and proceed to pretend to "film" the movie while watching it. It's quite legal, even if it might drive theater managers nuts. It also makes enforcement of this infeasible, if done widely enough.

      Here is the bill text [nw.dc.us], which should really have been included in the story. (Actually, IMHO, Slashdot policy should be to require a link to bill text when submitting a story on new legislation.)
      • Re:Bill text (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lehk228 (705449)
        AND the theater manager could ban your obnoxious ass from the theater.
      • Re:Bill text (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Entropius (188861) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @10:41AM (#9537280)
        Why?

        If Congress doesn't read it before voting on it, why should we?

        *grumble*
        • Re:Bill text (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bezuwork's friend (589226) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:06PM (#9537764)
          Damn, funny, informative, and insightful at the same time.

          Can't mod up as I've already posted.

          Seriously, what is the reason there is not a minimum time for review till bills can be passed? Shouldn't the final text of bills be public long enough for the public to be able to provide some feedback before voting? Whouldn't that at least allow somewhat for greater public approval?

          Hah! A cooling off period for legislation.

          Doubt that it would change much for bills that don't get media attention, but it might have influenced the Patriot Act.

          • Re:Bill text (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Entropius (188861) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @12:37PM (#9537939)
            Or they could implement a quiz period before a vote: any congresscritter who can't answer reasonable questions about the bill (with a paper copy in front of him/her, but no electronics or aides) must either vote nay or abstain.

            'Course, something like this could never come to pass--it'd be used for filibuster tactics, how do you define "reasonable", who determines what's an acceptable answer, etc. But it's a scary thought-experiment to realize that something like this would drastically change the face of Congress.
      • by King_TJ (85913)
        It's a great idea, as far as public disobedience and protesting is concerned. Only problem is, I suspect it would be treated much like waving around a realistic-looking toy gun. It's not illegal to have the toy gun, but you'd certainly at least get thrown out and waste your money you spent to see the movie. (Not to mention, probably get arrested and have to go through the hassle of proving you weren't actually doing anything wrong.)

        The thing that bothers me most about this law is the way the movie indus
        • Well, just recording the film you paid to see is victimless, but that would be a foolish activity by itself. (Although your recording activity may make the viewing experience of someone near you less pleasant; I suppose there's a little damage there.)

          The reasonable presumption is that you or someone else is going to see what you recorded, and that person would otherwise be paying to see the movie (perhaps not for the first time.) That is where the damage comes in, and the activity is no longer victimless.

      • by Alan Cox (27532)
        It shows how much the music industry owns the US government that the bill cites the 31% loss claims of the music industry in a law, and ignores the fact that all the academic studies, as well as the statistics gathering companies rebut the data rather convincingly.

      • Re:Bill text (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chess_the_cat (653159)
        Like it wouldn't drive *me* nuts to hold a camcorder while I'm trying to enjoy a movie? Who has time for shit like this? Quite frankly, I don't care if they want to put people in jail for filming movies in theatres so why in Hell would I want to disable a camcorder and pretend to film a movie to help out asshole pirates? You sir, are an asshat.
    • by uncoveror (570620) <webmaster@uncover o r . c om> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @09:32AM (#9536889) Homepage
      While no one will likely bash this law claiming a right to videotape in theatres, I will say that this law is way too draconian. Three years in prison if it's not for profit, and five if it is when nothing tangible has been taken? Fines would be more appropriate. If they are going to be draconian, why not just sentance camcorder "pirates" to death? What are those senators smoking?
    • I don't suppose anyone is going to come up with an argument saying that they are in the theaters with their camcorders excersizing their right to time shift...

      You lose that bet.

      A camcorder can be assistive technology. Keeping them out of the movie theater can be as unethical as turning away people with seeing eye dogs or wheelchairs.

      There are quite valid reasons for having and/or using a camcorder or similar device in a theater.

      • Time shifting. Movie theaters have limited h
  • I would have thought that night-vision equipment and kicking perpetrators out of cinemas would work.
  • by EvilCabbage (589836) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:06AM (#9535822) Homepage
    ... if you beat up a video store clerk and steal some real, actual copies of a film on DVD or VHS.

    I'm not standing up for the crime, but isn't the punishment supposed to match it?

    Sickening...
    • by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:10AM (#9535842)
      What country are YOU living in? Here in America (by which I mean the USA and Canada), punishment rarely fits the crime. If you steal a billion dollars from investors, you'll be asked to retire and pay a fine. Steal a hundred dollars from a liquour store, and you'll get twenty years in jail.

      Pirating films isn't white-collar enough to warrant a light sentence. The only crimes that have stiff sentences are the ones that wealthy people don't commit.

      • by EvilCabbage (589836) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:15AM (#9535866) Homepage
        I live in that big brown land of Australia.

        We're a bit behind the times down here. I can't think of any recent examples of a local company using it's financial power to put draconian laws into affect. Give us another six months or so to catch up on that one.
        Hopefully we'll tear up and burn that Fraud Trade Agreement Bush "offered" us, and we won't have to worry about it any time soon either.
      • Move to the Free State [freestateproject.org]. about 200,000 libertarian Slashdotters should be able to make a big impact there.

        Their goal is to create a Free State out of New Hampshire, that will combine the personal freedom of Holland with the economic freedom of Hong Kong. They are already attempting to change gun laws to allow concealed weapon carrying without a license. Raw milk sales are not regulated. Congresspeople are part-timers and get paid $100 a year. The state government is small and the crime rate is low. If the F

        • Move to the Free State. ... Their goal is to create a Free State out of New Hampshire, ...

          That does look very interesting, and the people do seem to be sincere about everything. Before reading their information, I just assumed that New Hampshire was just as bad as any other New England state. It was surprising to see that they appear to be a tiny oasis in the middle of a liberal swampland.

          For me, the main concern with their choice of New Hampshire is not with how things are today, but some years down t
      • This law isn't about punishing American malefactors. I would bet the problem of pirating films with vidcams isn't even serious in the USA. This law was passed so that we can show our international trading partners (East Asia, among others) that we're serious about intellectual property and hence so should they be. The USA has to create and impose some way of protecting intellectual property, because nowadays, it's among our major exports.

        The fact that it's easy enough for anyone with a CD-R to "produce" th

    • by Granos (746051) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:25AM (#9535898)
      ... if you beat up a video store clerk and steal some real, actual copies of a film on DVD or VHS.

      I'm not standing up for the crime, but isn't the punishment supposed to match it?


      Great analogy, except that you're comparing the ACTUAL time you would probably get for a crime to the MAXIMUM time you could get for another crime. The MAXIMUM punishment for felony aggravated assault and felony robbery would probably be about 30+ years, depending on the state. Why do people on slashdot have such trouble comprehending maximum punishment? Go look at some laws. Most crimes have suprisingly high maximum punishents. Most people don't get the maximum. That's why it's called a maximum punishment, not a standard punishemnt.
      • 30+ years? Excellent. I'm glad punks that beat up on store clerks can potentially get that kind of punishment, but tell me how often that happens in practice.

        Someone steals $500 from a convenience store, they're not going to go down for 30 years. They'll get a few months and then maybe 12 months of probation.

        Sitting in a cinema with a camcorder should not be punishable by any prison time. It is not a violent act, it makes nobody rich, it isn't going to fund any drug cartel. It is a simple civil violat
        • Rome (Score:5, Insightful)

          by zogger (617870) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @07:47AM (#9536427) Homepage Journal
          It depends on which state. A lot of states now have on the 2nd or 3rd felony conviction you get life. That's one of the reasons they have built so many prisons the past decade or so, and why we have such a high inmate population as a percentage of the entire population

          Laws and crimes and what gets emphasized are entirely random now. for instance, we have multi millions of illegal immigrants. People who jump the border have committed a felony, yet it is almost universally ignored, they are allowed to live freely almost anyplace inside the US. At best if they find a huge group of them near the border they'll just be shipped back over, they rarely serve any jail time. We also have laws that make hiring an illegal immigrant a federal crime, with a 10,000$ fine per incident, but you never hear much of any arrests in those cases, even though the practice is blatant.

          There's more, that's just a blatant example. Law enforcement is political, it's not any sort of even or fair, it's whatever the elite class wants that season. They give the orders, their enforcers click heels and jump to it. If they are ordered to ignore certain crimes, they will do so, even if they are aware of them.

          I am not pro criminal, I just think the laws are terribly skewed and not enforced fairly across the board, and we have a variety of laws on the books now that are just ridiculous and shouldn't even be there. The US has a growth industry of gradually adding to laws that make more of the lower and middle classes "criminals". I think it's planned that way, to make a two class society eventually, technofeudalism. They are also apparently destroying as much of the middle class job structure as they can. Any job they can find that is exportable they will, any job that they can't exported they will import millions of illegals or too many legals to take those jobs. It's so completely obvious I won't even debate it with any debunkers now, the stats and realities are all over. It's been slow but verifiably steady, and the numbers increase yearly. Part of the plan, command and control, the same old dodge the old aristocrats have always pulled down through the ages.

          As to recording in the cinema? I could care less, I've been boycotting movies for awhile now, and paid for music, I just quit. If a movie is free to copy, I might buy it. I have two here I got that the producer lets people make copies of. Music, again, if it's free over the radio by putting up with ads I occassionaly listen, but besides that, don't buy any-new. Used I will buy, it's just recycled, and the producers don't make another penny on it, but some guy at a yard sale will so I don't care, but even then not too much, a few examples of each a year. I even quit buying from the new but marked down bins, stopped that last year.

          I think if enough people will stop placing so much importance on "entertainmnerts" of that sort, we'll see more sane pricing and reduce any demand for copying for profit. it's all I can do, tell people to boycott movies and music and professional sports and television fiction. it's gotten so ridiculous expensive it's stupid, and the time wasting aspects of it are lost to the wasters, I think in a lot of cases they don't realise how absuerdly addicted they get to it to the detriment of other more important things our society ignores too much. When you can get several million people in one weekend to go drop tens of millions of dollars all over the country to watch some new movie, with thousands in any random city you pick, and the same city can't get two dozen people to a community meeting to discuss local judicial corruption or the next multi million dollar school budget, etc, well, there's something wrong there in *general terms*. IMO anyway.

          Rome when it was collapsing had it's bread and circuses to keep the people amused and occupied so they wouldn't pay attention to the rot that was collapsing their society around them.. We have the same thing now but people don't like to think they are droned out barbarians addicted to bre
    • by fermion (181285) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @08:20AM (#9536549) Homepage Journal
      The issue is even more complex. The punishment for a crime should not encourage the suspect to use a greater level of violence to avoid capture than already in use in the crime. The punishment should also not put innocent bystanders at increased risk.

      For example at sporting events certain behaviors are prohibited. The emphasized punishment for the behavior is ejection from the venue. If the action is a crime, the event may press charges. Most events that I have attended do not say that all prohibited action will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The reason, I believe, is because such statement might encourage suspects to be more resistant to the punishment, an in the process put innocent people at risk. For example, one can imagine some object accidently getting thrown onto the court. This obviously put player health at risk, and arguable could be the basis for a criminal prosecution. If the suspects thought that jail time was a real possibility, then they might choose to use violence to defend themselves, as the jail time might not be significantly increased. As it is, they have an incentive to leave quietly to avoid further punishment.

      And this is what the theaters are missing. By attaching a five year penalty to a nonviolent action, they are endangering my health, the health of staff, and the well being of any police called to enforce the action. I mean is someone who is risking five years for recording a movie going to worry about 10 years for injuring the people around him in his attempt to avoid capture? Is such a person going to worry about the riot he or she causes as they pull a gun to try to escape? I know that this is the extreme possibility, but one must make a full analysis before passing these laws.

      People will do really stupid stuff out of fear. In the US we try hard to have a fair and open process of law to minimize that fear. The problem is that process is becoming less fair, for instance by the reduced access to proper representation for those who cannot afford it, and as a consequence these parties tend to feel they have less to lose, which makes them more a threat to society.

      • On that note, if you were a movie theater employee making minimum wage, how would you enfore this law? Would you find someone with a camcorder and say "Excuse me sir, I'm going to need you to wait over here for the cops to arrive"? Maybe if you have a death wish. Of course the cops could be called without the camcorder user being aware of it, but what if he isn't noticed until the movie is almost over? If the theaters can't employ a security force capable of detaining someone, and they won't because it woul
  • What about.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SlashdotLemming (640272) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:06AM (#9535825)
    I was on vacation recently, running around with the camcorder. Almost stopped to see a movie as a break. Glad I didn't....
  • by bollow (a) NoLockIn (785367) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:06AM (#9535828) Homepage
    If the movie industry wants regulation of what people can do in music theaters, I tend to think that they should be able to get whatever rules they want, as long as they pay the costs of enforcement. (by contrast, the internet "belongs to us", the world-wide user community, and no movie industry or music industry should be allowed to interfere with how we choose to network or computers together.)

    But why on earth should taypayers have to pay for enforcement of these rules?

    If preventing camcorders is movie theaters is so important to their business, they should pay for the cost of preventing it. Anything else is a form of subsidy of the music industry. Taypayer money should be spend on protecting the security of people. Subsidies (in any form) are justified only if an industry which is important for providing necessities of life to the population is otherwise likely to suffer significant harm. In this case, there is no justification: The movie industry does not provide any necessities, just luxerious. Also, the movie industry would be quite capable of paying the costs of enforcing the rules they asked for. By paying for enforcement of this rule, Senate intends to rob the poor (taypayers) and giev to the rich (movie industry).

    • by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:13AM (#9535855) Homepage Journal
      I stand corrected in my other post... I guess people will get worked up over this. So what you're saying is that we shouldn't have to pay for law enforcement to stop people from robbing your local McDonalds as well? If something is wrong, it's wrong, and if there's a law made against it, then officers should be in place to uphold that law. Otherwise our laws mean nothing. If you don't like this law, use your vote to show that. I really don't mind the government spending less than a penny per person on this when they're throwing a lot more money around on REALLY stupid projects.
    • by MancDiceman (776332) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:25AM (#9535897)
      Using the same argument, why should taxpayers pay for the enforcement of the law regarding bank robberies instead of the banks? Or murder? Surely, if I get murdered, it's my responsibility to bequeath enough money to ensure my killer is caught?

      $5 million is a tiny, tiny fraction of the amount of tax revenue the entire movie industry (studios, distributors, cinemas, actors, crew, etc.) bring in annually. In short, by paying their taxes, the film industry is in fact paying for the enforcement of these laws. The "why should taxpayers pay?" line is so broken, you really go and do some very, very basic study of economics.
      • MancDiceman wrote: Using the same argument, why should taxpayers pay for the enforcement of the law regarding bank robberies instead of the banks? Or murder? Surely, if I get murdered, it's my responsibility to bequeath enough money to ensure my killer is caught?

        I had written: "Taypayer money should be spend on protecting the security of people." This includes enforcing laws against murder and robbery.

        Enforcing a rule against camcorders is like enforcing other kinds of NDAs. Whether or not you think t

      • by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xptical AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @07:29AM (#9536345) Homepage
        Bank robbers endanger the general public. Also, banks hire private security. The cops are only needed if the situation escalates.

        Murder needs to be prosicuted so that the general public can feel safe and do their jobs.

        $5M may be a small ammount, but it's still five fucking million dolars! Let's use it to train 2 more cops and have them patrol streets.

        The movie industry probably pays less tax than you think. I read an analasys of how these things work. Basicly, a company is formed to produce the film. The company leases all the equipment and sets from MGM or Mirimax or Disney. Then the film is made. After the profits start rolling in, the company has to pay MGM for the rentals. The rental prices are set to absorb any real profits. Then the company declares bankruptcy. MGM ends up with all the money by basicly renting the equipment to itself.

        I'm sure these companies pay tax. But if you and I are taxed at 20% to 30% of our income, big production companies probably pay closer to 5%. Think about that. You lose 1 of every 3 dolars you make so that police can enforce the rights of a company that pays 2 out of every 50 dollars it makes.
  • by Iam18grey (732026) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:07AM (#9535831)
    I'm sick of shaky camcorder job movies I've been downloading on Shareaza. Hopefully this will make the movies shared on P2P networks better quality.
  • Demand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cinematique (167333) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:08AM (#9535832)
    There's an obvious demand for movies currently playing in theaters to be offered at home. HBO was originally founded on this notion, IIRC.

    Solution: offer movies-on-demand at the same time they play in theaters.

    Why miss out on profits from those that download these bootleg movies or buy them off the street? They could offer the movies for $4 a pop and people would buy.

    I can't wait for an iTunes for movies.
  • by supersandra (788539) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:09AM (#9535835)
    I think that this is totally a legitimate thing to get people in trouble for... but I mean, 3 years if you didn't profit from it? 3 years seems harsh even for the people who sell those bad VCDs of movies in theatres.

    If I broke out my cell phone video recorder and took a quick clip of a movie, does that warrant 3 years in prison?
  • That will end up costing each of us about 1/2 of one cent per year until 2009 then. I don't know... doesn't really matter to me except I'll have to wait for the movies to come out on DVD. I still go to at least 3 movies a month and purchase 2 DVD's per week, so I never felt bad about watching the occassional cam'd movie. Whatever... I'm guessing that even here on Slashdot people won't find anything too exciting about this.
  • Considering (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:11AM (#9535845)
    Considering most good quality pirated movies are captured in empty theaters with the help of theater employee's I'm wondering how it will be enforced? I'm sure it's easy to bust some guy with a camcorder in a crowded theater but what about the people that record telecine copies?
  • Phht (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:13AM (#9535854)
    When they started playing ads in theatres, they lost their right to complain about piracy. So I say screw 'em.

    I personally pledge to download and share one movie for every commercial that I see in a movie theater.

    • Re:Phht (Score:5, Informative)

      by karstux (681641) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:44AM (#9535951) Homepage
      Of course it sucks when you have to watch ads just after having had to pay a good deal of cash for the right to watch a movie. But I don't think the cinemas would survive without the ads - since most of the ticket price goes directly to the distributor.

      Here at least (germany), the cinemas live on the ads, popcorn and cola - not on the movies. It's a neccessary evil, and completely unrelated to the copyright issue.
  • by zakezuke (229119) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:17AM (#9535871)
    People who secretly videotape movies when they are shown in theaters could go to prison for up to three years under a bill approved unanimously by the U.S. Senate on Friday. ---TFA


    This is good! It looks like if you blatently go in a theater and tape you are free in clear. Fuck this secret business, I want my cam download to look like MST3k with heckling. Oh, and the shadows of heads holding camcorders is a bonus for those of us who want that black space filled with something when we view in letterbox format.
  • by Depris (612363) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:18AM (#9535876)
    For the record telesync is when audio is captured directly off the reel and a high quality camcorder is setup in an empty theather to capture the film on as best as possible. telecine captures everything directly off the reel and is usually as good as vhs/dvd. both methods usually accomplished with help of theater employee's.
  • by Jarnis (266190) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:49AM (#9535965)
    Nobody bothers with cam copies anymore anyway. You can find good telecines/telesyncs within a few days of release already.

    Telesync = empty theater, cam on a tripod, sound from the theater sound panels. So theater employees are helping or doing it. Studio's own fault for not securely handling the prints/theaters. Ah but the theaters want to get by with just one guy running multiple showings being paid just bit over minimum wage while working long hours. And you wonder why these guys 'leak' stuff?

    Telecine = print of the movie, telecine machine, basically an unauthorized film-to-digital transfer. Requires complete access to the print at a location with a telecine machine. DEFINITELY means that studios don't handle the security of the prints as they should. Nobody should be able to walk out of a theater with the print to telecine it. Meaning some prints end up in wrong hands - either out of the theaters or from the studios themselves.

    And since law is apparently only vs. cammers, getting the print telecined is still apparently just a copyright infringement.

    Of course buying a law against teleciners would make the studios admit that their prints are not handled securely and that the movie theater employees are leaking like hell. If pirates commonly can get the whole print in their hands and run it thru a telecine machine at their leisure, that would possibly wake up the lawmakers that this law is beyond stupid and does nothing to curb piracy.
  • by boijames (641781) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:49AM (#9535967) Homepage
    A friend of mine who is over here for a year on training (he's from Germany) had the best reply to this one: "This country is just going nuts.. I dont .. I really dont even know what to say. ... I just need to.. heh, get out of here as soon as possible.."

    It's a sad day when you realize youre no longer internally proud of your own country.. that it's abandoned its own values and is becoming a de facto police state.

    What happened, guys??

    • by Hektor_Troy (262592) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @05:53AM (#9536116)
      I think it can be traced back to a couple of things:

      1) Changing the meaning of "patriot" to someone who is behind his government no matter what.
      2) Changing the definition of "democracy" to "the lesser of two evils"
      3) Changing the meaning of any political group to be derogatory.
      4) Labeling anyone who speaks out against the government to be either a traitor or freedom hating commie bastard (this relates to #1)

      Of course, I'm just a godless freedom hating commie bastard from Denmark of all places - hell, I'm even a member of the [warning for the faint of heart] Social Democrats AND I'm an atheis, so that absolutely PROVES that I'm a freedom hating godless commie bastard. Oh, and since I don't agree with your governments politics, and can really only stand Colin Powel, I hate America too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2004 @04:51AM (#9535972)
    This kind of law is another example of legislation that could only ever be passed in a corporate dictatorship. This law fits the definition of political corruption - an obviously bought law. If there were similar penalties for price fixing or anti-competitive behaviour, perhaps that would go some way to deterring music company executives from their criminal behaviour. A prison sentence of any type is obviously absurd for something as benign as filming a cinema screen. Systems like region coding (which tramps all over free trade laws), and digital rights management (which makes it impossible for consumers to excercise their right to make copies on alternative media, or backups) are the problem for those greedy companies. They are angering consumers, already tired of their dismal formulaic offerings, and not able to purchase movies/music in the way the want to (again because of outdated distribtion systems of greedy record companies), then blaming the consumers for a decline in record sales. Music is overpriced, films are overpriced. Record and movie prices probably belong at about 25% of the present level. Maybe when they reach this point, and the quality improves, i would buy CDs or movies again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2004 @05:17AM (#9536039)
    Who are the folks bringing the camcorders into the theaters, and to whom are they selling their wares? It's not the mini-van soccer mom who is happy to give her brood a 100 dollar bill and drop them off at the mall for the day.

    This horrible law is targeted at the urban poor. It is poor urban dwellers who are the prime "offenders". This demographic already suffers a hideously high rate of incarceration, even for non-violent "crimes" like this. The urban poor are the only audience who would tolerate the low quality, shaky pictures, and muffled sound. Dolby 5.1? Not hardly. These videos aren't finding their way into the $30K home theaters of Malibu and the Hamptons.

    I guess it doesn't matter to Jack Valenti and Barbara Streisand. Hey they've got to pay for their botox and Hummer SUVs. What's it matter if another nigga or two is locked away for a few years?

  • by kerp11 (410921) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @05:26AM (#9536057) Homepage
    ive seen camjobs from all over the world. this wont stop anything, but make the lawmakers feel they are doing a better job.

    still leaks happen most commonly in the far east (when they are sent off for screenings and translations), ive seen untold numbers of cam and telesyncs from the far east.

    this really wont stop piracy at all, its just another thing thats making america even more of a police state.
  • 21st Century Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by weave (48069) * on Saturday June 26, 2004 @05:36AM (#9536089) Journal
    Crimes against corporations are to be punished far more severely than crimes against people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2004 @05:55AM (#9536122)
    I wish the guy who raped my daughter had gotten 3-10 years. Instead, he got off on a technicality and ended up raping and murdering another girl in our neighborhood the night he was freed. He'll be eligible for parole in 2008, a measly 10 years after his plea-bargain conviction of 3rd degree sexual assault and second degree manslaughter. The DA wanted a quick conviction so he could spend time prosecuting a high-profile, highly public insider trading case that would keep him in front of the cameras for a couple of months before his re-election.

    There is a huge problem when white-collar crimes are more vigorously prosecuted and receive proportionally tougher penalties than violent crimes. It just goes to show how much influence corporations have on our government. This is why we NEED campaign finance reform. This is why we NEED to get rid of soft money alltogether. ALL soft money. This is why we NEED to get rid of PACs - so daughters like mine can have justice instead of (or possibly in addition to) a lifetime of therapy.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Not to make light of the situation or anything, but rape & murder are state crimes and insider trading is federal, and wouldn't be prosecuted by the same entity. Maybe I'm just missing something.

      -Restil
  • Ayn Rand quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alphakappa (687189) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @06:03AM (#9536137) Homepage
    Why do we try to criminalize every act? Are we trying to create a nation of criminals?

    "Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed? We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against . . .We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

    Atlas Shrugged
  • by eberry (84517) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @06:50AM (#9536226)
    Ironically a report out earlier this week shows that the US imprisons more people than any other developed country. To give you a few figures from the article on
    prisons not the answer for social problems [fortwayne.com], "There were 715 inmates for every 100,000 U.S. residents last June. Mexico's incarceration rate is 169 per 100,000, and Canada's rate is 116."

    There are currently more than 2 million people in US jails. NPR is running a series this week on the ineffectiveness of the prison [npr.org] system [npr.org].

    Now I don't think for a minute that this sentence will ever be carried out. For one, didn't we already determine that most pirated movies come from people who get advanced copies on DVD? Can't find articles on that right now.

    But if you want to change this ridiculous system of punishment please support initiatives like Downsize DC [downsizedc.org].
    • by 0x0d0a (568518)
      Remember that convicted felons cannot vote in most states in the United States. Making something a felony crime is an effective way of eliminating political opposition.
  • by MunchMunch (670504) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @07:00AM (#9536248) Homepage
    Is this or is this not the PIRATE Act? I submitted a story about this from news.com.com [com.com] that seems to say the PIRATE Act was passed unanimously on Friday. If so, this is more dramatic legislation than the accompanying camcording bill-- it's not even in the same class. This would mean the DoJ might be using taxpayer dollars to pick up the tab for the RIAA's lawsuits in the near future.

    Someone want to confirm or deny this? Was the PIRATE Act passed "unanimously"?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, the PIRATE Act has passed Senate "by Unanimous Consent". From here is has to go to the house, so it is not law yet.

      SHORT TITLE(S) AS REPORTED TO SENATE:
      Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation Act of 2004

      6/25/2004:
      Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

      http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:SN022 37:@@@L&summ2=m& [loc.gov]

      The accompanying bill called...

      SHORT TITLE(S) AS REPORTED TO SENATE:
      Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2004 ... the camcorder
  • by fw3 (523647) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @07:23AM (#9536319) Homepage Journal
    Sure, mod me down this is unlikely to be a popular VP on /.

    Last time I looked 'we' stronly believe in copyright enforcement when / as it applies to GPL or other FOSS licensed material. But when the shoe's on the other foot, suddenly people who go to a fair bit of trouble to steal a copyright work are *victims*? I think not.

    Many of the comments here run along the lines of 'ohh look at those really harsh penalties, compare them to (white-collar-crime, violent crime ...).

    Kindly observe that this is *federal* legislation (and that are some states have enacted laws). That means that what's prosecuted under this is most likely going to be the 'theatre employee runs a showing off-hours explicitly to do a video rip' instances. *Hence* the stiffer penalties.

    The pentalties for copyright theft are already out there, this isn't new - it's addressing a specific instance.

    Sure we don't like DMCA, RIAA et al and I heartily agree that there are some 1st class morons in "the Industry" lobbying etc.

    However in fact technology is making copyright theft easier and with the bar lowered there are going to be laws passed (DMCA etc) to try to address that.

    Deal. And if the best way you can think of 'dealing' is to cry wolf about how people without respect for others property are 'victims' ... well you can expect more of the same kind of legislation.

    • by RickHunter (103108) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @09:47AM (#9536988)

      *cough* BULLSHIT *cough*

      The problem with this law is that it adds criminal penalties for what was formerly a civil offense. The civil penalties were in line with severity of a crime. This law has mandatory 10-year penalties for repeat offenders - those that have already spent 10-20 years in prison under this law.

      That's more than serial rapists, murderers, or people who embezzle billions. That's more than most drug-related crime laws.

      The problem isn't the enforcement but, rather, that the penalty is hideously out of whack with the severity of the crime.

      • Yes, *cough* BULLSHIT *cough* is appropriate for your post. The likelihood of this law being applied rather than a plea agreement happening in virtually all the cases is non-existent. And, repeat offenders probably should do jail time for being so damn stupid.

        But the bottom-line it this: it's really a non-issue if you understand that it is wrong, illegal, and stupid to pirate a film with a video cam. Perhaps if this is too hard for you to grasp, you need to be culled from the herd as a benefit to everyone

    • by debest (471937) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @01:54PM (#9538425)
      Last time I looked 'we' stronly believe in copyright enforcement when / as it applies to GPL or other FOSS licensed material. But when the shoe's on the other foot, suddenly people who go to a fair bit of trouble to steal a copyright work are *victims*? I think not.

      Yes, "we" strongly believe in copyright enforcement ("we" in the reasonable-headed group of /.ers). That means living up to the agreement of the licence that the material was given out with. That means that if you break the agreement, you remedy it (by a number of means, including replacing offending code with new code, GPL'ing the application, cross-licencing the code from the author, or stop distributing the product). None of these involve criminal prosecution in any way, nor is it appropriate.

      I seriously doubt that many here really think that jail time is appropriate punishment for the lazy coder at some corporation who inserted a module from GPL'ed sources to save himself some work. Or even for the management at said corporation who encouraged the practice to reduce development costs. Yet that is what we have for the copiers of "IP" belonging to big media.

      if the best way you can think of 'dealing' is to cry wolf about how people without respect for others property are 'victims' ... well you can expect more of the same kind of legislation.

      The best way to deal with this offence is in line with deed done: financially. Charging the offender for actual damages (likely about $20) plus appropriate punitive damages (a couple thousand at most) is the sane way to deal with this "crime". Taking a violation of civil law and making the punishment a criminal offence, with such rediculously small impact (please show me a credible study that proves any financial losses from shitty camcorder movies), is just stupid.
  • Blame the voters. (Score:3, Informative)

    by I am Jack's username (528712) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @08:46AM (#9536662)
    "It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."

    "You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"
    "No", said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
    "Odd", said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
    "I did", said Ford. "It is."
    "So", said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"
    "It honestly doesn't occur to them", said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."
    "You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"
    "Oh yes", said Ford with a shrug, "of course".
    "But", said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
    "Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"
    "What?"
    "I said", said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, "have you got any gin?"
    "I'll look. Tell me about the lizards."
    Ford shrugged again.
    "Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them." he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it."
    Douglas Adams, So long, and thanks for all the fish, chapter 36.
  • by octalgirl (580949) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @09:15AM (#9536801) Journal
    This back and forth between MPAA and RIAA and their cries over poverty and theft ruining their bottom line - then vehemently debated by many here proclaiming that these movie previews HELP spur more movie sales, not the other way around.

    Wouldn't it be interesting if a different boycott could be arranged - one where instead of everyone saying 'don't buy music, don't movies', we just say - for one good movie - Don't record it? Do not let it hit the internet? Not one little copy? If we look back at the Matrix, Spiderman, et al., these were heavily taped and found online, only to have their ticket sales soar into the hundreds of millions. So many here could claim, 'See, it didn't hurt at all - it probably helped as advertising.' It is an argument that I agree with, that the people who take the time to hunt for and download a grainy copy are those who are the movies biggest fans anyway, and they just can't wait to see it. It won't stop them from going to the movie, buying the DVD - they just want to get their hands on all of it.

    Soooo - what if? Let's take Spiderman2 about to come out soon. I suppose to prove a theory one way or the other, something needs to give. Otherwise it remains theory. So imagine if not one copy of Spiderman2 were released online? And what if, instead of a blockbuster, the movie only produced a lackluster performance? That could add fuel to the argument that the pre-recording really was helping after all, and the MPAA just shot themselves in foot - again. If sales are about the same, it could prove that the pre-recording didn't make a difference. Does the MPAA really think that they could have earned more than the 300 to 500 million some of these movies make? I know that there are many holes in my idea, and it would be almost impossible to pull together a united, worldwide 'freeze-frame' event. But still, it makes me wonder - what if?
  • by TiggsPanther (611974) <.tiggs. .at. .m-void.co.uk.> on Saturday June 26, 2004 @02:02PM (#9538471) Journal

    As usual we have the vocal comments from the "Record it eslewhere" crew and from the "But it's illegal, so why are you whining" collective. Both sides, as usual, seem to be missing the point.

    Some people have touched on the real issues, but neither side (especially the "it's illegal!" side) seem to even notice the points.

    1 - It's overkill
    I think that in-cinema recording is wrong (though the over-the-top messages before movies make me want to do so out of spite, I admit). You bring in a camcorder to use in a film and there are very few things other than bootlegging that you can be doing. So I'm not disagreeing that it's illegal.

    But come on here. This is walnut-with-a-sledgehammer territory. It's not a criminal offence - or shouldn't be. Hefty fine. Confiscation of equipment. Barred from cinemas. These would be acceptable - and actually stop repeat attempts. But prison-time? Yeah, great. Obligatory "bubba" gags aside, prison is usually a good place to pick up real skills and contacts.

    2 - It's not the cause of the problem
    As people keep saying, it's not camjobs that are doing the rounds and eating into postential ticket-sales. If anything is, it's be the high-quality Telesyncs that people keep on referring to here. It ain't punters-with-a-cam, it's cinema-workers with some "slightly better" kit.

    Adding the two together, they're basically giving a vastly OTT punishment to the people who aren't even the main cause of bootlegging. And the cost of which will be passed onto the US taxpayer, and probably reflected in box-office prices too.

    Honestly, they're probably losing more money (and customers) to trying to stamp out bootlegs than they do to the actual bootlegs.

    Tiggs
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @02:29PM (#9538591)
    Ten years in prison for videotaping a movie in a theater... I think the penalty for murder should be reduced to a month in jail, and the penalty for rape should be reduced to an hour of community service. But if you violate someone's intellectual property rights, they should throw you in Abu Ghraib for at least 50 years.
  • by papercut2a (759330) on Saturday June 26, 2004 @03:11PM (#9538858) Journal
    For those who want to write to their Representatives to ask them to vote against the bill, the bill passed by the Senate is S.1932, the Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2004 (or ART Act for short) [loc.gov]. It has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee [house.gov].

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