Police Arrest Cinema Goers Over “Pirate” Audio Recording

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Two men have been arrested at a cinema in the UK after being found in possession of an audio recording of the movie The Divergent Series: Allegiant. The men, aged 19 and 44, have been released on police bail pending further inquiries and are now banned from all cinemas in England and Wales.

popcorn-butterCinemas in many countries are today subjected to high levels of security, meaning that getting a camcorder into a venue and recording a whole movie can prove an extremely difficult task for pirates.

Over the years several ingenious ways have been found to deal with these problems and pirates are often able to record a movie and its audio at the same time. However, to get the best possible result it’s often better to record the video and the soundtrack separately.

For example, in Russia where theater security is less tight, it might be possible to record the whole movie at once. However, a Russian language soundtrack is of much less interest globally than an English one. This means that to reach the greatest audience, pirates need to find an English audio source too.

As our article last week revealed, audio can be obtained from a number of sources, not least US-based drive in cinemas. However, since audio recording devices are more easily hidden from theater staff than cameras, recordings can be made almost anywhere.

Today, however, the Federation Against Copyright Theft is reporting that at least one English language soundtrack of a major movie won’t be hitting the Internet anytime soon following the arrest of two individuals in the north of the UK.

The men, aged 19 and 44, were arrested by Northumbria Police last Thursday following a screening of “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” at the Empire Cinema in Sunderland. Following the performance it’s reported they were found in possession of an unauthorized audio recording of the movie.

According to FACT the arrests follow an investigation which involved the film’s producers, distributors, and the Motion Picture Association. Perhaps of most interest is the revelation that three previous unauthorized recordings had already been made in the same cinema. Investigators love patterns.

Although not mentioned by FACT in connection with this case, audio can be watermarked in the same way video can. This allows investigators to match audio recordings back to a specific cinema. It seems likely that watermarking played a key role in this case.

The men have been released on bail pending further inquiries. The terms of their release include an agreement not to visit any cinema in England and Wales.


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