A man who was caught by MPAA investigators camcording the hit movie The Dark Knight in a US theater during July 2008 has been sentenced. The 42 year-old from Grandview, Missouri, was ordered to serve 24 months in federal prison and pay $24,738 in fines.
In 2008, the latest Batman movie ‘The Dark Knight’ became a massive hit, setting a one-day box office record of $66.4 million on its opening day and taking $996,500,000 by the end of the year.
Of course, Warner worked hard to hinder piracy, even handing out night-vision goggles in Australia to thwart cammers. Over in the United States, however, much lower-tech means were used to identify an individual attempting to record the movie.
The movie industry already had their eye on the East Glenn Movie Theater in Lee’s Summit since they believed an illicit copy of the Will Smith movie ‘Hancock’ had previously been recorded there. After noticing a man wearing a long winter coat in the summer, on July 18 on-site MPAA investigators grew suspicious that he was up to no good.
They confronted 42 year-old Robert L. Henderson, seized his video camera and called the police who arrived shortly later and arrested him.
Henderson’s camera was found to contain footage of The Dark Knight, Hell Boy 2 and The Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian. While conducting a search of his home, police found several computers and 1,240 counterfeit DVDs.
On October 7th 2009, Henderson pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan to criminal copyright infringement under the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act 2005 – the same legislation that sent the EliteTorrents admins and uploaders to prison.
Last week, Judge Gaitan ordered Henderson to serve 24 months in federal prison along with 3 years probation for recording the movie. In addition he must pay $24,738 in fines – $19.95 for each of the pirate movies seized from his home.
“The theft of films by camcording is a serious threat to the health of the motion picture industry and the 2.4 million Americans it employs,” said Mike Robinson, Sr. Vice President of Content Protection at the MPAA. “This is an appropriate sentence for a very serious crime, and we hope it will serve as a warning to would-be movie thieves that they will face severe consequences for engaging in these activities.”
Despite all the efforts, The Dark Knight still leaked online in cam and other formats and went on to become the most-pirated movie of 2008 with 7,030,000 downloads on BitTorrent alone.
The US is extremely tough on ‘cammers’ these days, an attitude which isn’t shared by the Australians. Recently an 88 year-old man who tried to record Avatar wasn’t arrested, but allowed to carry on watching the movie.