First 3D Camcorder Piracy Case: Student on Trial

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Billed as the first case of its kind, a man has gone on trial in the UK accused of attempting to camcord the movie 'Gravity' in full 3D. The 28-year-old film student allegedly constructed a rig using a pair of hi-def cameras but was thwarted when cinema staff spotted and confiscated his device.

rsz_gravity-movie-posterDespite their reputation for being poor quality, so-called ‘cam’ copies of movies remain popular with movie fans. On the other hand, these bootlegs – which are the product of unauthorized in-cinema recording – remain terribly unpopular with the movie industry itself.

Over the years Hollywood has lobbied for draconian laws all around the world to deal with the problem. On home turf legislation is now particularly tough, with lengthy jail sentences for those caught recording the latest blockbusters. Elsewhere the strength of the law varies, but that hasn’t stopped the industry from using all of the tools at its disposal.

There have been a number of “camming” cases in the UK in recent years, some of which have resulted in lengthy sentences for the accused. And in what appears to be a world first, a trial currently underway in central England involves the prosecution of an individual alleged to have gone equipped to “cam” a movie in full 3D.

According to reports from Birmingham Crown Court, Ciprian Florea attended a Cineworld cinema in the city during November 2013 with the express intention of making an unauthorized copy of the space blockbuster ‘Gravity’.

Making effective camcorder copies of 3D movies is not straightforward but the prosecution said the 28-year-old had prepared for the job in hand.

Florea, a student of film technology at Birmingham City University, is said to have hired two special high-definition cameras the day before his arrest. These had been placed in a custom-made box in order to record the left and right eye as required for 3D imaging.

Florea admits making the device and taking it into the cinema, but denies he intended to make a copy of the movie.

“It is not disputed that the defendant made that camera. He says he did not intend to use it in the auditorium,” said Sally Cairns, prosecuting.

“The prosecution say that is exactly what he intended to do. That is why he went to the cinema, that is why he bought the tickets to see the 3D film Gravity on that night.”

With no specific “camming” legislation available to the prosecution, Florea stands accused of possessing a 3D camera with intent to commit fraud, i.e the recording and subsequent distribution of the movie.

“This trial is about piracy, film piracy,” Cairns said. “Specifically the illegal recording of films from cinema screens and then potentially distributing them, showing them, sharing them with others.”

According to the Birmingham Mail the case is also unusual in that Florea had not even reached the screening room before his device was confiscated by security.

“He had something around his neck, a sort of box,” a security guard told the Court. “I saw a red light and that is when I turned around. I though this could be a recording device. It did not look like a usual camera.”

The Federation Against Copyright Theft confirmed to TF that the case is underway but declined further comment. For the Cineworld chain involved in the case, this is the second time in the headlines in as many months.

In December 2014, Cineworld made headlines when staff called police to tackle children they believed had been recording the movie The Hunger Games. The innocent kids were cleared by police of all wrong doing.

A representative for Cineworld informs TorrentFreak that following the event the chain is now revisiting its policies.

“It is for the police to decide whether they feel it is appropriate to act on the information provided to them. In this case, the police decided that there were sufficient grounds for suspicion and chose to attend the cinema,” a spokesperson said.

“However, we have taken on board the concerns expressed by the parents and we are reviewing how the policy is applied to younger customers.”


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