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Wednesday, December 17, 2008


ABBOTSFORD — Police have seized more than 700 ILLEGALLY DOWNLOADED MOVIES from an Abbotsford home and charged a 27-year-old man under the Copyright Act. Police say the arrest Sunday followed a month-long investigation into allegations the man was selling PIRATED MOVIES out of his home.

A search of a property in the 32600-block Haida Drive uncovered hundreds of PIRATED MOVIES — including such titles as FOUR CHRISTMASES and TRANSPORTER 3 that are still playing in theatres. Two computers were also seized.

The man, who had no criminal record, was released on a promise to appear in court in February. Abbotsford police spokesman Const. Casey Vinet called MOVIE PIRACY and COUNTERFEITING "a growing international problem that results in loss to legitimate industry and the economy." He suggested consumers should watch for these telltale signs of PIRATED MOVIES: poor quality, lower-than-average prices, shoddy packaging or spelling mistakes, and products sold individually that are normally part of a package.

This follows a story a couple of weeks ago where an Alberta Man was charged with illegally video taping Sweeney Todd in a Calgary Theatre.

CALGARY - A man caught recording the movie Sweeney Todd in a Calgary theatre last year has become the first person convicted in Canada under new legislation against movie pirating.

Richard Craig Lissaman, 21, pleaded guilty on Friday to the unauthorized recording in December 2007 of the new release starring Johnny Depp, and was sentenced to $1,495 in fines and placed on probation for a year by provincial court Judge Catherine Skene. Lissaman is also prohibited from entering any movie theatre, or from purchasing, owning or taking any video recording equipment - including one on a cellphone - outside his home during his probation period.

Skene said if one compared Lissaman’s crime to shoplifting, it was not akin to someone stealing a loaf of bread or litre of milk for personal use, but akin to someone taking a cart of meat to be re-sold for profit. “You can say he and his pals will watch the movie, but he has an item that is more supportive of taking something to be used to make a profit,” said the judge. “It’s not a simple theft of an item for personal consumption.”

The conviction came as a relief to the motion-picture industry, which had lobbied for the legislation that came into effect on June 1, 2007, and had conducted a six-month investigation that led to Lissaman’s arrest. Before the Criminal Code amendment, the Crown had to prove a suspect was intending to distribute an illegally recorded film before action could be taken under copyright laws.

“Canada is a hotbed of movie pirating, which is a billion-dollar loss to the movie industry,” Mark Christiansen, executive vice-president of operations for Paramount Picture’s motion-picture distribution, said outside court after reading his victim-impact statement. “The perception is that Hollywood stars are the only ones hurt by this, but it affects everybody who works in theatres.”

Virginia Jones, director of policy and legal affairs for the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association, said the industry will continue to remain vigilant. “We would have liked to see jail time, sending a stronger message. We hope this is just a starting point,” she said outside court, also after delivering a victim-impact statement. “But under old copyright laws, it was difficult to prove what had occurred.” She said all movies are distinctly watermarked, which means legal or illegal copies can be traced back to a specific theatre. That led to the lengthy surveillance.

Crown prosecutor Rob Bassett, who had sought a fine of about $2,000, said Lissaman smuggled a camcorder into a theatre during a matinee showing of Sweeney Todd on Dec. 21, the film’s opening day. “He was sitting in the top left corner of the theatre with the camera hidden in a sock, with duct tape over the red recording light to avoid detection,” said Bassett. “The house lights were turned on and the movie was shut off and Calgary police arrested him. The accused (later) admitted he had recorded the picture.”

Defence lawyer Steven Jenuth, who sought a fine in unspecified hundreds of dollars, told the judge it appears to be a one-time event for his client, with no evidence of any other offences and no evidence of any sales or recordings. “He is not, despite the allegations, charged with distribution or even copying that movie.” However, Jones and Christiansen said in their statements to the court a single copy of a movie made in a Canadian theatre can be used to distribute both unlimited numbers of DVDs that are shipped around the world via the Internet or other means for distribution.

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