Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
April 24th, 2005



Congress recently passed the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act. Its main selling point is that it allows those movie censoring services, like ClearPlay, to continue. “But there’s more!” as those annoying car salesmen always tell you.

It also deals with the shocking crime of recording movies in the movie theater, for the purpose of selling it or putting on a P2P network. Now, I’m not going to try and defend that practice, because I don’t have that big of a soapbox.

With the bill, the sentence for comitting such a crime will be three years for the first offense. The sentence for a second offense varies from source to source – six to ten years – but I don’t feel like reading the entire text of the bill to find out what it really is.

Here’s what The Register, a reputable British news source, has to say:

The bill also calls for three years in cases where a person is caught recording a movie in a theater with a camcorder – and six years for a second offence. It also indemnifies theater operators against all criminal and civil liabilities arising from detaining suspects “in a reasonable manner.” (Welcome to movie jail.)

Since involuntary manslaughter brings, on average, anywhere from 0 to 36 months’ incarceration, one might well question the morality of going harder on those who trade files than on those who negligently cut short the lives of fellow citizens. But the 109th Congress is about nothing if not morality, and it understands well the essential sacredness of the nation’s ruling cartels.

(Read the rest of the Register article.)

Yes, jail – or as the British apparently spell it, gaol – is a deterrent. But, um, if anything, the new sentence requirements will make the bootleggers more secretive. I’m sure they already use hidden cameras instead of the bulky camcorders that this bill targets, and the technology is getting better, so hidden cameras could produce higher-quality footage. What next? Are they going to start regulating the sale of vinyl records?

In other words, it’ll just deter them from getting caught.

Thanks to Neil Turner for the tip.