Tape 20 Seconds of a Movie and Go to Jail
According to the Washington Post:
Jhannet Sejas and her boyfriend were celebrating her 19th birthday by taking in a matinee showing of the hit movie “Transformers” at the theater at Ballston Common mall.
Sejas was enjoying the movie so much that she decided to film a short clip of the sci-fi adventure’s climax to get her little brother hyped to go see it.
Minutes later, two Arlington County police officers were pointing their flashlights at the young couple in the darkened theater and ordering them out. They confiscated the digital camera as evidence and charged Sejas, a Marymount University sophomore and Annandale resident, with a crime: illegally recording a motion picture. . . .
Sejas said she had no intention of selling the 20-second film clip. She just wanted to show it to her 13-year-old brother, who had said he wanted to see the movie. She was shocked when the officers showed up.
Sejas faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 when she goes to trial this month in the July 17 incident. Arlington police spokesman John Lisle said it was the decision of Regal Cinemas Ballston Common 12 to prosecute the case, a first for Arlington police.
According to the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005:
(a) Offense.–Any person who, without the authorization of the copyright owner, knowingly uses or attempts to use an audiovisual recording device to transmit or make a copy of a motion picture or other
audiovisual work protected under title 17, or any part thereof, from a performance of such work in a motion picture exhibition facility, shall–
(1) be imprisoned for not more than 3 years, fined under this title, or both; or
(2) if the offense is a second or subsequent offense, be imprisoned for no more than 6 years, fined under this title, or both.
The possession by a person of an audiovisual recording device in a motion picture exhibition facility may be considered as evidence in any proceeding to determine whether that person committed an offense under this subsection, but shall not, by itself, be sufficient to support a conviction of that person for such offense.
The Washington Post article continues:
Jason Schultz, senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he is aware of only one case prosecuted under the federal statute. In September 2005, a Missouri theater employee pleaded guilty to two counts of using a camcorder to copy two movies.
He said he has never heard of a case like Sejas’s.
“I’ve heard of people’s devices being confiscated, or them being kicked out of the theater,” Schultz said. “This is the first criminal arrest for someone filming for personal use that I know of.”