Police Target ‘Pirate Cinema’ Fuelled by Downloaded Movies

The latest blockbuster movies downloaded via BitTorrent are fuelling a 'Pirate Cinema' with free entry for all. However, as usual, an anti-piracy outfit has other ideas and with help from three police cars filled with officers, managed to detain the organizers and confiscate equipment.

A recent post on the organizers website declares: “The best films are free! Pirate Cinema is an autonomous cinema with P2P-downloaded films. Why should you give your money to big corporations? We are showing the newest movies for free! Pirate Cinema – Every Wednesday at the autonomous social center Elimäenkatu 15A, Helsinki”

The ‘Social Center Elimäenkatu 15′ isn’t an official social gathering place – it’s a squat, a disused building into which the organizers wish to breathe new life by showing the latest blockbuster movies, free of charge to all who attend. August 8 2007 saw the screening of ‘Transformers’ at 19:00 followed by ‘The Simpsons Movie’.

At the Elimäenkatu 15 social center they aren’t just showing movies – in the last week there has been a silkscreen printing workshop, a presentation on Korean Left-Wing movements, their own ‘Fight Club’ which teaches self defense skills and even a full beach party – minus the beach of course.

Around 20 people squeezed into the ‘Pirate Cinema’ (or Occupied Autonomous Center as the organizers refer to it) on August 15 when they were offered the chance to watch more free movies, specifically Planet Terror and the latest Die Hard movie. However after what was presumably a good night, the viewers left the social center only to be confronted by police.

Finland’s Copyright Information and Anti-piracy Centre (CIAPC) had prompted the police to investigate the ‘Pirate Cinema’. As the organizers tried to leave, their car was prevented from doing so by three police cars. Officers handcuffed and detained two people from the car and arrested one of the organizers along with a laptop computer used to play the movies. According to reports, although the viewers aren’t in any trouble, the organizers are facing charges of breaking copyright law. The driver of the car was later released.

When speaking with Helsingin Sanomat an organizer said: “It is ridiculous that under the new copyright law, a large number of people are criminals”, adding that copyright legislation only benefits large companies and big stars: “Copyrights do not solve the livelihood of culture workers, and the enforcement of piracy laws will not promote it”

A statement on the organizers site said: “The idea of Pirate Cinema has been to show movies for free for everybody. Everybody don’t afford to go see movies in the movie theatres. At the same time Pirate Cinema has been a statement for the right to share files. P2P filesharing is a mass movement: millions of people are sharing files everyday in P2P networks, and no kind of repression will ever stop this.”

Antti Kotilainen, Executive Director of anti-piracy group CIAPC commented: “We are pleased that officials have taken action. They say that they are anarchists, fighting against big movie moguls. Then the only recreation that they have is to show movies produced by the companies that they despise so much.”

The people at Projekti Sosiaalikeskus (the organizers) are in defiant mood, as is clear from a posting to their site: “True pirates never die! Despite recent repression Pirate Cinema will continue, just wait a bit for updates. We won’t back off or give up. Stay tuned!”

According to the site, the next movie screening is set for August 22.

Thanks to Xtacy for the translation

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