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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 April, 2004, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Two arrests under camcorder law
The Alamo
New western The Alamo was one of the films allegedly recorded
Los Angeles police have made the first arrests under a new law targeting pirates who use camcorders in cinemas.

Ruben Centero Moreno, 34, was arrested after the projectionist used night vision goggles to spot video cameras.

And Min Jae Joun, 28, was arrested on suspicion of recording a screening of The Passion of the Christ on 10 April.

Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, said he hoped it would "send a clear signal such crimes will not be tolerated".

"In both cases, the LAPD's fine work would not have occurred without the swift actions of the employees of Pacific Theatres," he told the Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Federal authorities estimate the illegal copying of films costs the entertainment industry as much as $3bn (1.7bn) a year.

Jack Valenti
The film industry led by Jack Valenti has been cracking down on piracy
The MPAA has established a nationwide telephone hotline for cinema employees to report violations. Studios and cinemas are also investing in metal detectors and night-vision goggles.

Mr Moreno was arrested on 12 April after a screening of The Alamo at the Pacific Winnetka Theatre in the Chatsworth area. No hearing date has yet been set.

Mr Joun was arrested after another audience member complained about a red light on a camcorder at the Pacific Theatre at the Grove.

He was released on bail and ordered to appear at a hearing on 5 May. If convicted, both men face up to 12 months in jail.

The California anti-camcorder law, which came into force on 1 January, makes it an offence to take a camcorder into a cinema with the intent of taping a movie.

Similar laws are on the statute books in nine other US states and the District of Columbia.

Russell Sprague
Russell Sprague pleaded guilty to copyright infringement
The new laws enable local authorities to act on offences that would normally be considered violations of federal copyright law.

The MPAA claims that between May 2002 and May 2003, over 50 major movie titles were "stolen" by camcording before their US cinema release.

MPAA spokesman Matthew Grossman said many illegal recordings were obtained by people who sneaked into advance screenings held for film critics.

The latest arrests follow that of Chicago resident Russell Sprague, who pleaded guilty to copyright infringement earlier this week after being charged of illegally copying movie preview tapes, known as screeners.

The 51-year-old faces up to three years in prison for creating pirate copies of films including Mystic River, Kill Bill Volume I and Seabiscuit.

But his sentencing has been postponed for six months to allow the movie studios to calculate the losses incurred.

Man pleads guilty to film piracy
13 Apr 04  |  Entertainment
Filmgoers targeted over piracy
02 Jan 04  |  Entertainment
Battling the bootleggers
19 Nov 03  |  Magazine
Hollywood reports record takings
23 Mar 04  |  Entertainment

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