Thursday, August 02, 2007

"Audience Isn't the Enemy" - Zero Tolerance in US Movie Theater

One thing that legislators should be forced to recite every day - and which law schools should hammer home in every class - is that the worst possible ridiculous consequence of any law is bound to occur sooner rather than later.

So - a young lady in Arlington, VA has been charged under anti-camcording legislation for taking a 20 second clip on what is reported to be a Canon Power Shot (which is apparently a digital still camera with limited “movie” capability, as have most still cameras and cell phones now). She thought her little 13 year old brother might like to see the movie too - so she was advertising, in effect, for the theatre and the movie producer.

She even arrived late at the movie, which doesn't fit with the profile of your average professional pirate. Her camera was confiscated. She is banned for life from this theater.

The very model of a modern pirate? Just the type of person that cries out for "zero-tolerance policy at the theater level"?

The powers that be in this case are defending their zero tolerance policy.

She faces a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

If her story is true, she is being prosecuted and could have a criminal record, a fine and jail time for recording 20 seconds of a film on a digital still camera at presumably very low quality in order to show her little brother so that he would come to see the movie and buy a ticket.

Is this a case of bad law or a bad enforcement call or both?

At least the young lady has capable representation and some notable people caring about her.

Coming soon to a theatre near you in Canada?

Hopefully, the Canadian statute would not permit this kind of charge in such a de minimis situation.

And hopefully our enforcement apparatus would not let it get off the ground.



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