A man has been charged with fraud and copyright offenses after being accused of camcording several Hollywood flicks, including the Jennifer Aniston movie The Bounty Hunter. Unlike other countries around the world, recording a movie in a theater is not specifically illegal in the UK so considering the serious nature of the charges, why is this man facing a potential jail sentence?
For quite a while the movie industry in the UK has been complaining loudly over what it believes constitutes a serious loophole in the law. While recording or ‘camming’ a movie in a theater is illegal in many countries around Europe and can put a perpetrator within range of summary execution in the United States, the same cannot be said about the UK.
In Britain there is no such thing as an “illegally cammed movie” because camming a movie is not a crime. Despite this legislative weakness the country hasn’t become a mecca for wannabe maVens, since in most cases movies premiere overseas first rendering a UK copy unneeded.
Nevertheless, last month the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association described the UK as a “comparatively safe haven for those seeking to make illegal recordings of films”, which on face value seems to be diametrically opposed to a story relayed in local media this week.
According to a report in the Harrow Times, 22 year-old Emmanuel Nimley of Harrow, Middlesex, has been accused of ‘illegally’ recording, among others, the Jennifer Aniston movie, The Bounty Hunter.
Currently free on police bail with a return date of August 18, Nimley is said to have recorded the movies at the Vue cinema in St George’s Shopping Centre. Interestingly, in 2009 boss of Vue Cinemas Tim Richards expressed his frustration with the lack of legal support when it comes to dealing with cammers.
“We call the police and the police aren’t interested,” said Richards. “So we ask (the pirates) to leave and they leave typically with their cameras and sometimes with their film intact.”
So considering there has been no change in the law since then, why is Nimley facing a possible jail sentence? The devil in this case – as with so many others of this nature – lies in the detail.
According to an official at Harrow Magistrates’ Court, Nimley was charged under sections six and seven of the 2006 Fraud Act, and section 107/1(e) of the 1998 Copyright Designs and Patents Act.
The charges suggest that ‘camming’ in isolation is not the problem here, but the subsequent use of cammed material to commit other crimes. While there is no evidence at this stage to suggest that Nimley sold copies of his recordings passing them off as official copies, such an action would certainly leave him open to prosecution under the Acts detailed above.
Until the law is changed, police and prosecutors – and groups like the UK’s FACT – will have to rely on cammers committing other offenses in order to achieve prosecutions. In the meantime, chains like Vue will continue using their own preventative tactics, such as spying on audiences with night vision goggles.