Police State

Posted by on Sunday August 5 2007

Out of the Theater, Into the Courtroom –

“Jhannet Sejas and her boyfriend were celebrating her 19th birthday by taking in a matinee showing of the hit movie “Transformers” at the theater at Ballston Common mall.
Sejas was enjoying the movie so much that she decided to film a short clip of the sci-fi adventure’s climax to get her little brother hyped to go see it.
Minutes later, two Arlington County police officers were pointing their flashlights at the young couple in the darkened theater and ordering them out. They confiscated the digital camera as evidence and charged Sejas, a Marymount University sophomore and Annandale resident, with a crime: illegally recording a motion picture.
…Sejas faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 when she goes to trial this month in the July 17 incident. Arlington police spokesman John Lisle said it was the decision of Regal Cinemas Ballston Common 12 to prosecute the case, a first for Arlington police.
…Besides facing a misdemeanor charge, Sejas was also banned for life from the movie theater she has frequented. Sejas, a Bolivian immigrant who works two part-time jobs to help finance her education, works at the Victoria’s Secret store near the movie theater.”

Does anyone else have the feeling that this stuff is getting way out of hand? Beyond absurd and … frightening? A year in jail? Who’s the “pirate” here? Who’s attacking whom? Banned for life from the movie theatre? This theatre should be banned until it either drops the case or closes down. Or both.

“The movie industry needs to recognize that their audience isn’t the enemy,” said Cindy Cohn, general counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit group that specializes in digital rights issues. “They need to stop treating their fans like criminals. . . .”

That’s an understatement. I think that something very fundamental is getting twisted with all this “war on piracy” stuff. For whom are all of these movies being made, for heaven’s sake — who’s supposed to be consuming them? Would the movie industry prefer to screen their productions to empty seats? Emply seats can’t think, download, copy, mashup, or record anything. They’re the perfect audience. They don’t actually absorb anything — the projection of the movie evaporates as it hits the screen. There is no one in the forest to hear the tree fall. It’s entirely self-serving.

Empty theatres: the perfect solution to the Orwellian-titled “Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005.”

3 Responses to “Police State”

  1. Amalyah Keshet
    August 10th, 2007 07:26

    Free Culture @ NYU is joining the call for a chain wide boycott of Regal Cinemas over their draconian punishment of a 19 year-old girl caught taping 20 seconds of the Transformers film. We demand that Regal Cinemas drop all charges against Jhannet Sejas, and that the entertainment group issue a full apology to the teen.

  2. Amalyah Keshet
    August 30th, 2007 04:19

    “Patrick Corcoran, a spokesman for the National Association of Theater
    Owners, said 104 theater personnel nationwide in the last three years
    have been awarded about $500 each, in a joint venture between the
    owners association and the MPAA, for identifying pirates in movie

  3. Shandie
    November 28th, 2007 02:28

    She broke the law.
    She deserves punishment, but not as severe as was handed to her. The movie industry does lose tons of money each year to pirating. They have every right to charge her to the maximum though, because she did, in fact, break the law. You cannot break a law “just a little bit.” And to refer to the incident as something of a ‘police state’ is simply absurd. Does the author of this article know what a police state is, exactly?

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