In the weeks and early months following a major title’s debut, the only place to see it is in a theater. When people make brand new movies available illegally in the home, it’s argued that fewer people go to the cinema and the subsequent retail window suffers with fewer sales.
This disruption in the market is the work of so-called movie ‘cammers’, people who enter movie theaters around the world, record the latest titles with a video device, and then make them available online and/or to physical bootleggers. They’re a prime target for movie studios who invest considerable resources in tracking them down, especially when it comes to the biggest titles.
Last Friday the MPAA was doing just that when one of their investigators shadowed two men into a Linthicum, Maryland theater from the parking lot at around 7:30 pm.
Troy Cornish, 38, of Baltimore, and Floyd Buchanan, 35, of Dundalk, were allegedly seen with recording equipment outside while preparing to target the US premiere of The Fate of the Furious (F8) starring Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson.
Like its predecessors, F8 is destined to be a guaranteed hit with the pirating masses so getting an early copy as quickly as possible is high on the list for capable cammers.
According to Anne Arundel County Police, when Cornish and Buchanan were approached inside the theater they were actively recording the $250m blockbuster. The pair were later found to be wearing some kind of recording harnesses under their clothing which held cell phones against their chests.
Both men were arrested and subsequently charged with the unauthorized recording of a movie in a theater. According to a local report, they face one year in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.
It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act (which usually covers such offenses) can see a first time offender imprisoned for up to three years and a repeat offender for up to six. Potentially complicating matters is that the MPAA investigator told police that Buchanan was already known to the industry group as a movie piracy suspect.
While the fate of the pair will remain to be seen, the fate of The Fate of the Furious is already sealed in piracy circles. After being pirated (presumably by another group) within 24 hours of its release, the movie entered TF’s weekly “Top Ten Most Pirated” chart yesterday at number six, a position that’s guaranteed to improve next week.
There are several versions available online, but without a doubt the most popular is a cammed version uploaded by notorious release group Hive-CM8. It was reportedly obtained from a ‘latino’ source and appears online with hard-coded subtitles cropped off.
The MPAA is yet to make a statement on the arrests of Cornish and Buchanan but recently noted that The Fate of the Furious had contributed over $65 million to Georgia’s local economy while employing over 1,600 local workers.