In my previous two A.C.T.A. posts, A.C.T.A. is BAD and errata: A.C.T.A. is BAD, I passed along the sad tale of the 22 year old Chicago woman who made the terrible mistake of attending her sister’s birthday party at a screening of the movie New Moon.
Maybe ten or fifteen years ago I first noticed movie theatres promoting the idea of holding birthday or other parties at the movies. Many of them offer special deals and party facilities. Just like MUVICO, the theatre where this incident took place. And many people have unofficial birthday parties at the movies too. Even though I haven’t, I have taken my camera to movie theatres and taken photographs of family members gathered to watch a movie inside the theatre on more than one special occasion.
Samantha Tumpach’s crime was taking home video of her sister’s 29th birthday party. Less than four minutes of footage on her camera showed the movie screen. Maybe I empathize so very much because I am the photo nut in my family. It might have been me dragged off in handcuffs.
TorrentFreak reports that the charges have now been dropped, and she is free again. This young woman should not have had to spend two nights in jail for going to a movie theatre birthday party.
I’ve made plenty of amazing Hallowe’en costumes for my son over the years, many based on movie characters. The year my son decided he wanted to be Zorro for Hallowe’en was the year that The Legend of Zorro was released theatrically. So naturally my small Zorro wanted to see the new movie in his awesome (Don Alejandro) Zorro costume.
So of course I took the camera to the theatre and took lots of photos of my Zorro.
And of course I was using my very first digital camera which had video capabilities.
Had I not been enjoying the movie, I could easily have taken photos or video of my little Zorro watching the big Zorro onscreen.
I wasn’t detained by theatre staff or arrested. Seems I was lucky.
It doesn’t matter if the staff actually believes the MPAA copyright propaganda, or whether they acted out of fear of MPAA, the result is the same.
The movie industry put a patron in jail.
Kudos to New Moon director Chris Weitz, who contacted the Samantha Tumpach and offered his support.
The three minutes of footage she shot inside the theater, Tumpach said, also included film previews and ads, along with short segments of the film — and her talking about the camera and the movie.
“It was never my intention to record the movie,” Tumpach said. “You can hear me talking the whole time.”
Most people working in the movie business probably don’t support the draconian copyright laws the MPAA is lobbying for. But they need to make a living, and so I can understand why feel they can’t speak out against MPAA lobbying or A.C.T.A. Most are probably just as much in the dark about A.C.T.A. as the rest of the world, since most elected representatives in the countries negotiating A.C.T.A. appear to be uninformed. This would be why A.C.T.A. has already sprung so many leaks. Since President Obama has labelled A.C.T.A. a national security issue, it is probably far too dangerous for Americans to risk leaking further documents. Yet being an international treaty there are many parties to the negotiations so I expect leaks will continue to be provided by people of conscience.
Stories like this reflect very badly on the movie industry.
More and more consumers are coming to realize that the media industry has effectively declared war on us. Which is precisely why the major media companies are lobbying so hard to have governments around the world enact A.C.T.A. The want the government to be the “bad guy”.
It is the real reason why A.C.T.A. is secret: so that no one will be accountable for drafting or implementing the draconian copyright laws that will necessarily result from ratification.
Yet if A.C.T.A. was in place NOW, there is a very strong probability that Samantha Tumpach would not have been released after a mere two nights in jail.
Tumpach dared to infringe copyright, even though it clearly was not for the purpose of “bootlegging”. Under the laws that A.C.T.A. is seeking, innocuous personal use “infringements” like this one will be treated the same as “for profit infringements”. Even in the face of contrary evidence, MPAA and other A.C.T.A. lobbyists claim that file sharing damages their business.
Whether this is because the MPAA is actually so ignorant of what is happening that they don’t understand the phenomenon, or if this position is assumed to convince their shareholders that they are doing something to combat bootlegging doesn’t really matter. Not only will laws like this fail to prevent criminals from continuing to profit from bootlegging, but the result will be uniformly bad for consumers and citizens.
Although A.C.T.A. means “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” it seems clear that the name is a product of doublespeak since it actually seeks to criminalize personal use “copyright infringements”.. They have tried to change the way people think by including anti-piracy commercials in theatres and on DVDs. Since that has not worked, they’re playing hardball.
Why Secrecy is So Essential
The copyright lobby believes hiding behind A.C.T.A. secrecy will keep us from knowing that they are responsible for having our young people locked up for sharing.
- They think that we will instead blame the lawmakers. After all, they will have made the laws.
- And the law enforcement officials. They will be the ones investigating, arresting, prosecuting and jailing these copyright infringers.
The politicians also believe hiding behind A.C.T.A. secrecy will absolve them from blame. They think they will be able to escape blame by saying:
“But you can’t blame us for this… all the other governments did it so we had to do it too”.
Every parent knows the classic parry to the “Everybody’s doing it” argument: “If everybody else was jumping off a cliff would you do it too?”
Since we don’t buy that excuse from our children, why would they think we’d accept such a feeble excuse from our government?
Do they think we’re stupid?
Because we will know who to blame.
Maybe I am just not subtle enough for this. Maybe I think too much in terms of black and white. After all, in the “mom” game, you quickly learn to skip over the shades of gray. You teach your two year old, “people are not for hitting”, because a two year old doesn’t have the life experience to be able to judge when hitting can be justified (as self defense, say).
Cut to the chase: right and wrong.
But then again, what do I know?
I thought part of being a mother was teaching kids the value of sharing.
Something else parent need to consider is possible consequences. So I began wondering what the consequences of A.C.T.A. might be.
A.C.T.A. Introduces a New Criminal Class
The special interest group behind A.C.T.A. believes that they will be held blameless for the fallout.
They think that once people know file sharing would will send them to jail, they’ll stop. And that will frighten other people so they won’t do it anymore either. Right.
It seems to me that now the people who are prepared to go to jail for copyright infringement are the criminal bootleggers. Like the alcohol bootleggers before them there are enormous profits to be made. They feel it is worth the risk to make such enormous profits.
The people who are file sharing don’t believe they are doing anything wrong. They believe that they can share music and movies they’ve bought with their friends. I doubt any of them expect to go to jail. (After all… everybody is doing it…)
But once A.C.T.A. passes and the laws of all our lands change, I think that many of the young people who feel so strongly about this will start expecting to go to jail. I rather think that A.C.T.A. will increase filesharing. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the evolution of an A.C.T.A. underground resistance movement. A war could well be fought between the forces of idealism and the forces of greed. Sooner or later the young people who believe that file sharing is a good thing will be in charge.
Insult and Injury
Of course the ways to bring these nasty file sharing criminals to justice would certainly involve “3 Strikes” laws, where allegations of copyright infringement can result in websites being taken off the internet. Even without A.C.T.A. currently the U.K. is looking at doing this with only 2 strikes, and huge fines. This is being challenged by the British ISP talktalk who have launched a petition in an effort to prevent this bad law from being passed.
Every example I have heard of this type of law includes making the Internet Service Providers spy on our internet activity. None of these laws seem to require mundane things like search warrants or evidence. The accused is guilty until proven innocent.
Who will pay for this?
The jails are full. In a world where murderers rarely serve as many as ten years, my question is, where are they going to put this new criminal class? It will cost as much to incarcerate a personal use copyright infringer as it will to incarcerate a rapist. It costs a lot of money to keep people in jails. Because the criminal justice system is so expensive, plea bargains are already putting dangerous offenders back on the streets too quickly. What about the overextended law enforcement agencies? Where will the money come from to pay for the police man hours and court overheads?
Who will pay to draft and enforce these laws? Governments will have to foot the bill.
For the MPAA and the Canadian Recording Industry Association this is an excellent reason to put personal use copying under criminal law rather civil because that puts the onus for investigating and prosecuting (and just as importantly, paying for investigating and prosecuting personal use copyright infringements on to the government.
And since government money really comes from the citizens, the reality is that we will be paying for this.
In order for ISPs to spy on our internet connections and computers, they will need large outlays of cash pay for the specialized equipment and personnel to run it and correlate the huge quantities of data required. Who will pay for this? The ISPs. Of course they will have to pass along the cost so…the reality is that we will be paying for this.
Who will pay for this erosion of civil liberties and human rights? The reality is that we will all be paying for this… especially our children.
Bootlegging is wrong. Videotaping a movie in a theatre or duplicating a DVD you purchased in order to press your own counterfeit copies to sell is theft. As a law abiding citizen, I do not purchase bootleg merchandise from flea market stalls or retail stores. If the vendor was aware that the merchandise was bootleg, I might even be inclined to complain.
But it seems that Hollywood isn’t even bothering about professional bootleggers. So why should we?
Hooray for Hollywood
In the 1950’s Hollywood lived in fear of government witch hunts.
In the 21st century will we all have to live in fear of Hollywood?