One of the stated main aims of the MPA(A) is to reduce or eliminate the availability of ‘camcorded’ pirate movies. Having taken strong actions against camming in the US and Canada, the movie industry has made some progress in its battle but of course, other countries are also prolific sources of cams.
One of these countries is Australia and local anti-piracy group AFACT has been very active in addressing this problem. During February we reported that Australian officials had arrested and charged a man in Sydney on 18 counts of copyright infringement, after it was alleged he was a cammer for well known ‘Scene’ group, PreVail.
New South Wales Police and AFACT (on behalf of the MPA) carried out a raid on 26 year-old Craig Farrugia’s residence on February 13th and seized “sophisticated” video camcording and computer equipment after watermarks on movie releases by PreVail allowed investigators to discover the cinema they were cammed in. Among others, the equipment was linked to cammed versions of Bedtime Stories, Beverley Hills Chihuahua, He’s Just Not That Into You, Marley and Me and Yes Man.
Presiding over the trial, Magistrate Keady said that Farrugia was “part of an organized criminal conspiracy,” and went on to say that the movie industry was “entitled to the same protection of their property as are householders whose house is broken into and property removed. It is a property offense similar to that of larceny.”
Since release group Prevail had released more than 200 movies onto the Internet in the last 3 ½ years, it was expected that Farrugia would be taught a harsh lesson by the court if found guilty. Each offense (that’s each camming offense) could have earned Farrugia a $60,500 AUS ($39,000US or €31,000) fine and 5 years imprisonment.
However, the Blacktown Local Court in Sydney surprised everyone, not least the MPA. Although Farrugia pleaded guilty and was convicted, he was fined just A$5,400 (US$3900), placed on an 18 month good behavior bond and set free.
AFACT Director of Operations Neil Gane said that the case had been a success and that the outcome would prove a deterrent to others but the boss of the MPA in the region was entirely more realistic. “While we are pleased with the very prompt closure of this matter, we are disappointed in the sentence meted out by the Court as it has failed to recognize the damage this particular crime can have on the industry.” He added that he hoped in future sentences would be tougher.