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Mission: Impossible for Cammers
May 8, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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The MPAA and NATO have been closely working together in recent months to reduce the number of individuals using cam recorders to illegally capture theatrical releases. While the involvement of NATO in the campaign to root out online film piracy may stir a sense of seriousness and excitement in the piracy market, this NATO is the disappointingly benign National Association of Theater Owners.

The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), a trade organization designed to protect and lobby for the rights of its member companies, surmises that nearly 90% of all online releases originate from hand held cameras. Years back, CAM releases were typically avoided in favor of higher quality "screeners." However the technological sophistication of modern video recorders has transformed aversion into general acceptance. CAM releases are generally considered any theatrical film that originates from a hand held video camera.

Realizing the growing acceptance of CAMs, the movie industry lobbied heavily to criminalize the art of "camming" a theatrical release. The state of California was the first state in 2004 to criminalize such forms of piracy and had the strictest statute in the nation. If convicted, the first time offender can expect up to a year's jail sentence and a $2,500 fine. Attempts to federally criminalize the law gained momentum, as a similar conviction in New York City would yield at most a $250 fine.

The movie industry got its wish in the form of the controversial "Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005." When President George W. Bush signed the bill into law on April 27, 2005, it officially became a misdemeanor anywhere in the United States to intentionally video record an in-theater movie. The law greatly stiffened penalties to a maximum sentence of 3 years, a fine or both; and 6 years for repeat offenders.

In addition to strengthening anti-piracy laws, the MPAA has also focused on training theater employees to locate would-be "cammers." Yet this strengthening and cooperation with NATO hasn't deterred the most determined of cammers, as the MPAA announced that four individuals world wide had been apprehended in their attempts to record the high profile Tom Cruise vehicle, "Mission Impossible: III." The MPAA trains NATO-alligned theater employees to identify the signature of cammers, i.e. their positioning, flashing LEDs, etc.

The individuals, a woman from Los Angeles, California, two men from Evansville, Illinois, and one man from Taoyuan, Taiwan, were all arrested within one day of opening night.

Whether or not the movie industry's educational efforts are successful remains debated. Although unprofessional cammers may be easily apprehended, the supply of CAMs is not in small supply. Several CAM releases of Mission Impossible: III are readily traversing the major P2P, BitTorrent, and Usenet communities. According to VCD Quality.com, the quality of the release is quite watchable.

Despite heavy promotion, the third installment of the international espionage/geo-political/love-under-stress thriller failed to live up to financial expectations; it only mustered $48 million over the weekend.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Unauthorized Distribution :: Warez Scene
Entertainment Industry :: MPAA

You can read the press release here.

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