Senator Volker Passes Legislation To Deter Theft Of Feature Films By Camcorder Pirates

William T. Stachowski

January 28, 2008

(ALBANY, NY) Senator Dale M. Volker (R-C-I, Depew) today announced that he has passed legislation (S.3117) in the State Senate that would update New York State’s existing law prohibiting the operation of recording devices in a motion picture theater. Senator Volker is urging the State Assembly to act immediately and pass their bill (A.6427) so as to limit the negative financial impact this illegal activity is having on New York’s economy.

"Technology is moving so fast that with the advancement of electronic devices, and the availability digital technology that accompanies these devices, the theft of first-run motion pictures is becoming more prevalent and wreaking havoc on our motion picture industry in New York State," said Senator Dale M. Volker. "The motion picture industry is already experiencing financial challenges and the pirating of first-run is adding insult to injury. This has contributed to the industry’s loss of approximately $3.5 billion."

Senator Volker’s legislation replaces the existing penalty of a violation with a Class A misdemeanor to better reflect the exponentially more damaging nature of the same offense today. The original statute was designed to prohibit the use of a video camera or audio video recorder in a movie theater to record a motion picture so as to combat the sale and trafficking of counterfeit movies obtained from illegal recordings. Today, in the digital age, the nature of the offense is much more serious as technology has improved the quality of the stolen product and, most importantly, has allowed for mass duplication of perfect digital copies of movies recorded from movie theaters as well as instantaneous transmission around the world of those copies while a movie is still in a theater.

Additionally, it is well known among federal and state law enforcement agencies that there is a growing body of evidence linking counterfeiting and piracy with organized crime and terrorist funding. The crime currently has a low-risk of prosecution and enormous profit potential, which makes it an extremely lucrative enterprise for organized crime and terrorist organizations.

"This is not a victimless crime as every pirated film from a theater in our state represents millions of lost dollars in state revenues that would otherwise used by local governments to pay for essential services, assist our school districts, or be reinvested for in-state productions," said Senator Volker. "Additionally, the thousands of New Yorkers involved in the motion picture industry are at risk of being downsized based on these financial losses exacerbated by pirated films. This is unacceptable and we must proactively deal with this crime and make those who perpetuate it responsible for their actions."