Regal Cinemas Facing Boycott After Pressing Charges Again Teen "Pirate"

You might remember this story from a few days ago: When 19 year-old Jhannet Sejas taped a 20 second clip of Transformers on her Canon Power Shot camera, she probably didn’t think she was committing a crime that calls for 1 year in prison and a $2,500 fine. If she did, she probably didn’t think the movie theater would call the police, have her arrested, and then press charges.

But they did.

Now we’re hearing rumblings a boycott of Regal Cinemas until they drop the charges against Ms. Sejas. From Free Culture @ NYU:

We demand that Regal Cinemas drop all charges against Jhannet Sejas, and that the entertainment group issue a full apology to the teen.
While the question of whether or not Jhannet’s Transformers clip counts as fair use (it is our opinion that it does, as it is private, non-commercial use of an unsubstantial portion of the original), there is another question we should be asking, and that is whether or not we should be patronizing a corporation that insists on pressing charges against someone who is clearly not the intended target of anti-piracy laws. Regal Cinemas should be ashamed of itself and its silly zero-tolerance policy.

Uh, oh, Regal. Internet backlash is at your door.

Boycott Regal Cinemas [Free Culture @ NYU]
Boycott Regal Cinemas: Teen Arrested for Recording 20 Second Movie Clip [Slashfilm]
(Photo:Andrew Ruess)


Edit Your Comment

  1. timmus says:

    Does Freeculture have much clout?

  2. MikeB says:

    At the most she should have been kicked out, at the least asked to stop. I was at a concert this past weekend (Weird Al) and the ushers would go around asking people to stop taking pictures and in my section that is as far as it went.

    In my opinion ZT polices are not silly, they are down right scary. I am so glad that the schools in my city do not have them, would not allow my kids to go there if they did. Do a Google search for Zero Tolerance to see some of the horror stories.

  3. sleze69 says:

    Blah…they caught someone video taping a movie. You DON’T DO THAT.

  4. dbeahn says:

    I’ve been pretty actively boycotting all theaters since the price went up to around $10 and matinee now means “before 3pm”.

  5. Steel_Pelican says:

    I think it’s within Regal’s rights to take a stand against bootleggers (I wish they’d take a stand against noisy patrons, too, but that’s another post…). However, when they saw that she’d only taken 20 seconds, and had no intention of bootlegging the film, they should have asked her to delete the video and be on her way.

    I like the idea of a boycott until charges are dropped.

  6. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I doubt this boycott will make much difference….most of the big name movies have already come and gone, so the theaters have made all their money from their summer blockbusters. Plus, the internet community contains the largest percent of people who are just going to just download movies anyway. I’d think the biggest market for theaters are older folks who aren’t too net savy…and they might never hear about any of this (or care).

  7. ThomFabian says:

    Zero Tolerance = Zero Room For Common Sense

    Either trust your officials to apply the laws fairly , equally and reasonably or ask yourself if you really want them making laws that have no room for reasonable exceptions. If they aren’t smart/wise enough to do the former than they certainly aren’t smart/wise enough to do the later.

  8. gibsonic says:

    sometimes to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs.

    this teen will be made an example of. It will definitely make others think twice before doing what she did.

    She broke the law. Sure they “could” be generous and let her off but they are by no means obligated to.

    It’s the same as if a kid steals a toy or candy from the store. Often times the store scare the kid but will ultimately let them go. But imagine if this store was getting getting stolen from a few hundred times a week, at some point they can’t be mr. nice guy anymore.

    There is more to the story then what we’ve heard, i assure you…There always is. Maybe the teen and her family were being abusive or threatening to the theater management or other reasons why the theater thought it best to continue to press charges.

    The law may be stupid, but it is still the law. Spend your energies talking to your representatives about changing the law rather then beating up companies trying to live by the law.

  9. ancientsociety says:

    I’m tired of hearing about this. It’s a lot of hearsay and lack of common sense on BOTH sides.

    How do we know he WASN’T going to pirate the entire movie?

  10. Steel_Pelican says:

    @ancientsociety: I think she started taping late into the movie- the original NBC report says it was during the “climax.”

  11. scoobydoo says:

    @ancientsociety: For starters, because it’s pretty much impossible to video an entire movie on a point and shoot camera.

  12. oneTee says:

    here’s an idea…stop breaking the law

  13. gibsonic says:

    or maybe they caught her and she could only get 20 seconds but would have recorded much longer.

    a lot of digital cameras will now let you take videos(albeit crappy quality) for as much space as you have on your memory card. Since 4GB and larger cards are relatively cheap she in theory could have recorded most if not all of the movie…all speculation of course.

  14. CreativeLinks says:

    To be perfectly honest, I am all for pressing charges against ANYONE who uses their cell phone during a movie.

    Whether they are recording, talking, texting, or just plain waving the thing around.

  15. HeyThereKiller says:


    I climaxed several times during the movie… … wait we are talking about TRANSGENDERS: Females in disguise… … right?

  16. Steel_Pelican says:

    @gibsonic: I agree with you that it’s the law, but making an example of this girl isn’t going to do anything to stop career bootleggers and pirates- which is who Regal should be concerned with.

    I agree with you again, that this girl certainly isn’t blameless. She made a mistake, and should be corrected for it. A year in jail is probably a little much, though- especially when career bootleggers and pirates come and go from theaters all the time without being caught.

    I doubt her judge will sentence her with much, if he/she doesn’t just throw the case out.

  17. Cowboys_fan says:

    This is simply more incentive to pirate. Now I’m not only against the makers, but the theatres also. Exactly how does this theatre lose out? Would you help the mob collect on a debt, b/c this is basically the same idea. Let the police and courts deal with real criminals. A 20 second clip can’t possible be breaking the law IMO. If I steal from a store, and don’t leave the premises, then its not theft. Her video was deleted I’m sure, so no harm, no foul. I so hope she drags this through court, wasting time and tax payer money.

  18. Buran says:

    @sleze69: If you are doing something that does not fall under fair use, yes. However, a clip this short falls under fair use exemptions to copyright law.

    The most she deserved was being asked to stop recording, or if she did not do so, asked to leave. She could have shown the clip to prove that she only recorded a short portion of the movie.

  19. MarvinMar says:

    “It’s the same as if a kid steals a toy or candy from the store.”

    No really.
    It would be more like a kid taking a tiny nibble off a 10 pound candy bar.
    Or taking an M&M out of the bulk bins.

    She did not CAM THE MOVE nor did she intend to.
    You see more of the movie from a trailer than what she did.

  20. Buran says:

    @oneTee: here’s an idea: familiarize yourself with fair use law, because she broke no law.

  21. TomK says:

    No, you guys don’t get it. She shouldn’t of been required to delete the video. We have certain rights, and what this girl did was obviously within her rights. She was not doing anything commercial with the video (undisputed) and it was a tiny portion of the film. That is clearly fair use. They don’t have a right to make her delete it, at all, or cancel her ticket, or anything. They should be sued.

    It’s just like the warnings before baseball games, it’s clearly fair use to do some stuff excluded by that warning. Just because they say you don’t have the right, that doesn’t make it true.

    What the hell is wrong with everyone. Know what your rights are and stand up for them.

  22. Amelie says:

    @ GIBSONIC “beating up companies trying to live by the law.”

    Ah yes, the noble lapdogs of the RIAA. May their example of “living by the law” be an example to us all.

  23. Buran says:

    @Steel_Pelican: What law did she break? Go read about fair use.

  24. Pelagius says:

    Four geeks at NYU are boycotting a Virginia theater chain? Watch out MPAA!

    Seriously, it’s too fucking hot down here to bother going to the movies. There’s your boycott.

  25. Baz says:

    NYU – Socialism and activism bootcamp, at $38,000 a year. Please…

  26. acambras says:

    She’s NINETEEN?

    Granted, I didn’t read the story word-for-word a few days ago, but I had this picture in my head of some poor 13- or 14-year-old girl being taken away in handcuffs.

    But now that I know she’s an adult, it’s hard to feel very sorry for her. How does a 19-year-old NOT know that recording during a movie (for any length of time) is not kosher?

  27. Steel_Pelican says:

    @Buran: She broke this law: []

    To reiterate my point, though- I think the charges are nonsense. If she is being charged with copyright infringement, then fair use clearly prevails here. However, I’d wager that they’re charging her under the VA state code. I think it’s excessive and unfair.

  28. yg17 says:

    @acambras: Perhaps she knows more about fair use laws than Regal apparentely does and knew that what she was doing was 100% within her rights as a US citizen?

  29. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Recording like this is a slippery slope. Let this fool slide and in a while the terrorists will be emboldened… or will they win?

    I stopped going to the movie theaters when they became out of control with cellphones and screaming toddlers–and a lax management policy on both. I say give the buildings nuclear hardening and soundproof cry-rooms inside the auditorium. I hate having to pay to sit next to obnoxious assholes. I would gladly pay a premium to watch a simultaneous home-release of a movie.

  30. yg17 says:

    @Steel_Pelican: IANAL, but isn’t fair use a federal law, and federal laws automatically override state laws? If a state law says you can’t do something, and a federal law says you can, then you can, since federal overrides state.

  31. overbysara says:

    That would suck to be an asshole executive that makes these kinds of decisions. What a crappy life they must have, you know?

  32. ancientsociety says:

    Again, I only see a LOT of hearsay and speculation re: this case here.

    Some say it was “just” a cameraphone, other news stories have said it was a digital camera. Some say it was just the trailer, other halfway thru the movie?

    I call bullsh*t on a “boycott”. Sounds to me like this girl clearly broke the law (however “unfair” it may be) and, to bring forth media attention and hopefully shame the cinemas to not pursue charges, she plays the victim card and most of you are jumping at the chance to defend her because of your preconceived notions of how evil the MPAA and big business are (which, I do agree they’re evil, but that doesn’t excuse personal responsibility if you’re caught commiting a crime).

  33. Steel_Pelican says:

    @yg17: Good question. I’d guess that the crimes of “operating a recording device” and “copying a copyrighted work” are somehow legally distinct.

    But I don’t want to sound like I’m defending Regal here- I want to reiterate that I think they’re handling this very, very poorly. I think it’s smart for them to jump on anyone they see recording, since they can’t be sure who’s had the camera on for 20 seconds at the end of the movie, and who’s been taping since the first reel started. However, they need to examine each case individually, instead of this bullshit zero-tolerance policy.

  34. MeOhMy says:

    For me the key is: Was the camera capable of recording the entire film?

    If yes, the theater has no choice but to press charges. I can’t imagine there will be enough evidence to convict her, but they can’t let people say “I only got 20 seconds before you caught me, so I should get a pass” and get away with it.

    If no…well then it’s pretty obvious they should drop the charges.

  35. supra606 says:

    I don’t know if this boycott will do any good or not but I personally support it and anyone else that boycotts these theaters for this idiocy. Why should it be acceptable for organizations like the RIAA and the MPAA to prosecute the theft of their products so much more severely than any other kind of theft? Regardless of that, in this case, that does not even apply because this girl almost certainly had no intentions of doing anything illegal with this short twenty second recording (the way I read it she was actually going to show it to her brother with the intention of encouraging him to see the movie in a theater). I don’t know what this boycott of one theater chain will accomplish but I propose a boycott of ALL MPAA AND RIAA AFFILIATED PRODUCTS until ridiculous situations like this and the countless lawsuits the RIAA is filing stop! Why do people stand for this kind of garbage?!? Vote with your dollars!

  36. daveinFL says:

    I plan on joining the boycott. There is a Regal near me and I will not be patronizing it. Further I will encourage others to do the same.

    The issues here are:

    1. FAIR USE (20 seconds, non-commercial, and by a little girl ON HER BIRTHDAY)

    2. INTENT (yes, I am sure she could sell 20 sec for millions)

    3. BULLYING BY THE INDUSTRY (Enough of it)

  37. ncboxer says:

    I don’t see how recording a 20 second clip is like stealing anything like candy. Is she stealing the movie? No she paid for it. Where is the harm here? If she recorded it and sold it, I could see the cause for concern. If it is against the movie theaters rules, then fine, ask her to delete the clip or throw her out. The fact that this became a law is utterly ridiculously. Just because the MPAA pushed this into law into many states does not make it right. Everybody jumps on the bandwagon- oh, its against the law so it must be bad. Could the actual law be bad, or is that heresy? What if I get the legislation in my state to pass a law saying if you eat chocolate in my house you go to jail for 10 years. Then I offer you chocolate and call the police. It must be bad because it is a law, right?

  38. IAAL (as opposed to IANAL). Admittedly, I don’t know exactly what they are charging her with. However, the talk about Fair Use could be misplaced here. Fair Use is a defense to an allegation of copyright infringement (which, unless willful or commerical, is typically handled via a civil action). Fair Use would not be a defense to a state law prohibiting the use of video recording equipment in a movie theater, regardless of the supremacy of federal law, since it would not be a copyright violation, but violation of a seperate statute. That said, I think that the actions taken by Regal here are excessive, but could be equated to a retail chain prosecuting all shoplifters (whether they take $1 or $10000 worth of merchandise) to prevent an evaluation of degree.

  39. acambras says:


    Perhaps she knows more about fair use laws than Regal apparentely does and knew that what she was doing was 100% within her rights as a US citizen?

    I guess you’d have to ask her that. From all the back-and-forth legal arguments here, I’m not sure that your point is 100% correct (IANAL, BTW).


    and by a little girl ON HER BIRTHDAY

    Not a little girl — a 19-year-old college sophomore. And the bday part, while sweet, is irrelevant — if I get a speeding ticket on my bday, I can’t claim some sort of “birthday immunity.”

    Here’s what I DO know:

    1) Movie theatres with an interest in this issue should publicize laws/policies (with warnings during the previews and/or posters in the lobby) so that no one can say “I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong!”

    2) I only see movies at the theater about twice a year. For two people, tickets and concessions end up being almost $40. Most of the time we’re able to wait until it hits DVD. So I probably wouldn’t care about a Regal-specific boycott — I’m guessing there are a lot of people out there with the same thinking.

  40. JohnMc says:

    Sorry, this is a case where the consumer was wrong. Got caught. Now to have some internet campaign for it is wrong as well. It dilutes the value of the internet if it is applied to every stupid move that people do.

    They need to pay the fine, request community service and leave it at that. If the judge orders jail time well I hope they look good in orange.

  41. “Zero Tolerance = Zero Room For Common Sense

    Either trust your officials to apply the laws fairly , equally and reasonably or ask yourself if you really want them making laws that have no room for reasonable exceptions. If they aren’t smart/wise enough to do the former than they certainly aren’t smart/wise enough to do the later. “

    Oh, if only American society made it this easy. Try working as a teacher or school administrator and see how long “applying laws fairly” keeps you out of court. If this child got X, then every child must get X or it’s discrimination due to sex/race/hair color/weight/special ed status. And I can see why businesses use this same standard to customers.

  42. supra606 says:

    The way I see it, this boycott is not really about the law. By the letter of the law, she is probably wrong. The boycott is against Regal Theaters for enforcing the law on someone it was clearly not intended for.

  43. gibsonic says:

    there are a lot of “unfair” laws on the books. If you don’t like the laws, work to get them changed.

    You may not be able to do it alone, so get with some advocacy groups that are already fighting your cause or just start your own advocacy group.

    take charge of your rights and freedoms or STFU.

  44. bilge says:

    I’m all for ZT in this case. She’s like the folks at concerts who hold up their damn cameraphone to snap a pic.

    That it became a criminal issue I think is silly, but I’m all for the toss.

  45. Jaysyn was banned for: says:


    By the letter of the law what she was doing was perfectly legal. She may however have broke a rule of the theaterhouse. And before anyone starts blathering about these new IP laws that the MPAA & RIAA have purchased recently:

    “No intelligent man has any respect for an unjust law” -Robert Heinlein

  46. Steel_Pelican says:

    @gibsonic: I don’t think the problem here is the fairness of the “no cameras in theaters” law – I think most of us would agree that it’s necessary to prevent real piracy, but rather how Regal Cinema is choosing to apply that law.

    I think a good analogy is being written a speeding ticket for doing 38 in a 35mph zone. Technically you were speeding, technically you broke the law. But I’m sure you’d feel that the speeding ticket was a little excessive. It’s not the law that’s unfair here, just a particular case of enforcement.

  47. Steel_Pelican says:

    @Jaysyn: She actually broke a VA state law by operating a recording device inside a movie theater: [] . And as a lawyer commenter pointed out, breaking that law probably can’t be defended with fair use.

    It’s still a case of excessive prosecution, though.

  48. SorcererMickey says:

    And of course if the “Phase I: Boycott” plan doesn’t work, people might just buy move on to “Phase II: buy a $10-12 ticket, see the show, and cut up the seats, creating $40-50 damage for each ticket sold.

  49. Cowboys_fan says:

    If changing laws was so simple, then that would be a viable arguement, but its not. How was prohibition lifted? From angry citizens calling their congressmen? Nope, from openly breaching the law everywhere. If we all broke the law, and recorded every movie we saw, every time, they would have to abolish the law or put us all in jail. That’s how to break down a law. Calling your reps really is a joke. That only works to help make laws, not tear them down. I mean should I really be calling my senator every day until laws I don’t like are removed?

  50. Jozef says:

    @gibsonic: Actually, the article states that the camera used was a Canon Powershot, a digital stills camera with movie taking capability. I have one of the newest models, and the best quality I can get is 640×480 pixels, 30 frames per second. The built-in microphone is of relatively low quality. Still, at the best quality I can get about 12 minutes per 1GB, so to get an entire two hours movie I’d need an at least 10GB SD card or change cards during the movie.

  51. frankieman70 says:

    this punishment is way to harsh on a person who had no intent to pirate her 10 sec. movie clip which probably looks like shit and sounds like shit.Regal should have just kicked her ass out or given them a warning.

  52. BigHeadStu says:

    Regal is the single largest theatre chain in North America…not some local VA Chain, “operating 6,273 screens in 584 locations in 40 U.S. states”.

    And a foul, greedy company doing their best to ruin the movie-going experience.

    source: []

  53. daveinFL says:


    I think a good analogy is being written a speeding ticket for doing 38 in a 35mph zone. Technically you were speeding, technically you broke the law. But I’m sure you’d feel that the speeding ticket was a little excessive. It’s not the law that’s unfair here, just a particular case of enforcement.

    – …..

  54. acambras says:


    Thereby breaking other laws.

  55. daveinFL says:


    I think a good analogy is being written a speeding ticket for doing 38 in a 35mph zone. Technically you were speeding, technically you broke the law. But I’m sure you’d feel that the speeding ticket was a little excessive. It’s not the law that’s unfair here, just a particular case of enforcement.

    – You would also to have the threat of one year in jail as well for going 3 MPH over the limit for this to be equal.

  56. supra606 says:

    @Steel_Pelican: Thanks that is what I was trying to say. I actually thought of using a speeding example and seeing how much it adds now I wish I would have.

    @Jaysyn: I’m not sure one way or another which is why I said probably. But I definitely agree with you about civil disobedience of unjust laws which the RIAA and MPAA buy (I love how you put that)in bundles being the way to go.

  57. drjayphd says:

    @bilge: Except it’s quite the rare concert that’ll be replayed in its entirety anywhere else, ever. Now, if you mean the people holding up the phones so their friends could listen… well, I don’t get that. Although I think whoever did that AT&T ad needs to get punched (although leave Mates of State out of it, they’re decent and all-right people).

    That said, they should’ve taken a page out of Ring of Honor’s playbook (where fans taking pictures could, in fact, conceivably cut into business, as they sell every show of theirs on DVD). The one time I got caught with a digital camera, they just asked me to delete whatever I took at the show, and they’d hold the camera until after the show. Common sense, yes?

  58. drjayphd says:

    @Jozef: And if it’s anything like mine, the audio and video will be so horribly out of sync that it wouldn’t be worth it in the first place.

  59. ianmac47 says:

    Sure, it was stupid to be taping even a few seconds of footage in the theater. But this kind of action on behalf of Regal (and by extension, the MPAA) is only going to further alienate the movie going public. What can we expect next, a ban on bags in theaters? On cellphones with cameras? The film industry makes going to the theaters increasingly less fun while increasing the cost to go. Instead of arresting teenage girls, they should lower ticket prices and improve the quality of their product, thus making it less economically viable to pirate movies in the first place.

  60. Jaysyn was banned for: says:


    So the real question here is does fair-use (common law?) trump state law?

  61. Jaysyn was banned for: says:


    In case you didn’t know a movie theater’s “product” is what you buy at the concessions. They don’t make much money on ticket sales.

  62. Steel_Pelican says:

    From a comment posted by a lawyer among us, Dr. Chim Richolds, earlier this afternoon:

    “… Fair Use would not be a defense to a state law prohibiting the use of video recording equipment in a movie theater, regardless of the supremacy of federal law, since it would not be a copyright violation, but violation of a seperate statute. …”

  63. supra606 says:

    Does anyone else notice that any MPAA/RIAA posts seem to get an awful lot of (mostly negative) attention? I can only hope this is a microcosm of the rest of the world getting very sick of these cartels pronouncing people guilty until proven guilty. Hopefully if that’s the case the dissatisfaction will turn into some action and we can finally be rid of these people!

  64. jaredgood1 says:

    She was using her damn camera during the freaking movie. She clearly didn’t care that she was disrupting the film for those around her, so it’s only a bonus that her selfish actions are going to get her in trouble legally.

  65. TheSeeker says:

    here is the link to send Regal your comment:


    perhaps if enough people comment their thoughts on not patronizing Regal cinemas, something may happen.

  66. Buran says:

    @ancientsociety: It’s called “Please show us your clip”.

  67. tinychicken says:

    @overbysara: Yeah, I’m sure they cry themselves to sleep every night on and wipe away their tears with $100 bills.

  68. Buran says:

    @jaredgood1: Uh, you have no right to not be offended or inconvenienced by other people. That is not a justification to jail people.

  69. Buran says:

    @Jaysyn: And at the prices they charge I have no sympathy for their losing money to people who bring in their own food.

    That’s a lot more common than this sort of thing — why don’t people get thrown out for that?

  70. MeOhMy says:

    It’s also important to realize that while legal defense might be costly, just pressing charges doesn’t mean she is automatically found guilty and assessed the maximum penalty.

  71. jaredgood1 says:

    @Buran: You are correct, I don’t have a “right” for people not to be asses in public. I do, however, have a right for the services I pay for to have a certain level of quality. Given the nature of a theatre (dark, with one major light source), other light sources disrupt the quality of the service I’m paying for. It’s the theatre’s responsibility to maintain a quality service.

    If she wasn’t videoing the movie, then she should have been thrown out for using the cell phone (Regal asks people to turn off phones multiple times before showtime). The fact that she was videoing the movie and is going to be fined severely is just gravy.

    Bravo Regal.

  72. BStu says:

    While I agree that Regal shouldn’t be pressing charges here, it bothers me that the boycott demands an apology for someone who DID break the law and was likely bothering other paying customers. While she is clearly not who the law was intended for, kicking her out of the movie theater was entirely appropriate and if Regal does drop the charges then she should be grateful and not expecting an apology. Regal should cut her some slack, but they don’t need to be sorry for not cutting her that slack earlier.

  73. Jmarsh04 says:

    Here’s a challenge: I’d like to see one of you smuggle a camcorder into a theatre (preferably HD), whip it out at the beginning of a film, and record, let’s say… exactly 18 seconds of the movie. The only stipulations are: the theatre must be at at least 70% capacity, you have to do it when a theatre employee is present, and you must hold your camcorder high up in the air so all can see it.

    Bonus point if you can accomplish this with law enforcement present. Extra bonus point if you share your 18-second footage wih said law enforcement.

    I can assure you (based on some of the posts I’ve read here), this challenge is not a crime and you will have absolutely NOTHING to fear.

    Good luck!

  74. Steel_Pelican says:

    @jaredgood1: Last I heard a Canon Powershot was a digital still camera, not a cell phone.

    And last I heard, she was being charged for violating VA state law, not disrupting the other theatergoers’ experience.

  75. maevro says:

    This is a joke. I can download 40 different bootleg video recordings of The Simpson’s Movie right now and you can buy the DVD anywhere in NYC, even while riding the subway but nothing ever happens to these people, but this chick gets arrested?

    Anyway, I work in a field where plenty of people are arrested but the charges are dropped, I am sure they will take a plea – get a fine, some community service and have to stay away from the theater chain.

  76. Craig says:

    Other than Dr. Richolds, there isn’t a single commenter so far who understands Fair Use. And, BTW, notice that even Dr. Richolds didn’t say that Fair Use applies to Sejas’ actions…he said that it isn’t a valid defense.

    Fair Use does NOT give you blanket rights based on the length of the clip you’re copying and it does NOT give you rights based on whether or not the intended use is commercial. It offers extremely limited rights under extremely limited circumstances and everyone claiming that it applies here needs to read it for themselves (Google it).

    Personally I believe this case should be prosecuted if only to educate the general public about how limited Fair Use really is.

  77. Steel_Pelican says:

    @Craig: The point is that this isn’t a fair use issue at all. Fair use doesn’t even enter into the conversation, because it seems like she’s being charged under VA state law- a law that prohibits the operation of recording devices in movie theaters.

  78. MeOhMy says:


    I can assure you (based on some of the posts I’ve read here), this challenge is not a crime and you will have absolutely NOTHING to fear.

    Consumerist is now a source of definitive legal analysis? Interesting.
    Either way, Steel_Pelican has already posted a link to the Virginia law that explicitly declares unlawful the operation of an audiovisual recording function of a device in a commercial theater, excluding the lobby and other common areas, to record a motion picture or any portion thereof without the consent of the owner or lessee of the theater. Emphasis mine.

    Maybe it shouldn’t be a crime, but that’s neither here nor there. Right there, right then, it was.

  79. Little Miss Moneybags says:

    I’m boycotting the movies anyway, until they charge reasonable prices for their concessions and quit putting out crap movies.

  80. Baz says:

    Regal Cinemas is upholding their obligations as a movie exhibitor. Saying that it is unfair to charge this person with a crime is like saying that charging a person for shoplifting a pack of gum is unfair. Is a sentence necessary for either case? Very unlikely. Are both activities illegal? Yes.

  81. howie_in_az says:

    I saw her clip on and it got nuked.

    I do think a year in jail and a $2500 fine is a bit excessive for her being stupid. Like others have said, it’s not like she was camming the movie or anything, just stupid enough to think that she can use her cell phone (I think the original article said it was a cell, not a camera) to record part of a movie. If she used a Canon Powershot as this article states, then she’s dumber than I had originally thought and should be fined accordingly, although I still think a year in jail and $2500 is a bit too much.

    If anything she should be fined additionally for wanton disregard for her brother; she’d only be showing him the climax of the movie and not everything leading up to it, like Optimus Prime’s flames, Megatron tearing apart Jazz, or the hottie girl attempting to fix Bumblebee’s engine.

  82. icruise says:

    I seriously cannot fathom how anyone in their right mind could be in favor of putting someone in jail for a year for recording 20 seconds of a movie. Is this really the kind of society that we want to live in?

  83. Craig says:

    @scarfish: Now that’s a boycott I can support, especially if not charging exorbitant ticket prices in addition to playing commercials before the movie is added to the list (if you’re going to charge me $10 AND make me sit through a Coke commercial then at least throw in a free soda)!

  84. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @icruise: Apparently many of the posters here. Remember this is the consumerist blog, where 80% of the time, the consumer is not just wrong, but stupid.
    Almost as stupid as thinking that this case should be prosecuted. All you dickfaces who think this should be prosecuted should chip in to the court fees and not waste MY tax money on stupid shit. Of course, you’ll have to get those RIAA and MPAA dicks out of your mouths.
    Seriously. “She should be prosecuted.” “She broke the law.” “It’s just like stealing.” STFU. Seriously.

  85. Smashville says:

    Fair Use doesn’t apply here because of the method she used to obtain
    the clip from the movie. In TV, you have to have taped directly from
    the broadcast…you can’t hold your camera up and tape the
    TV…because…for one, that’s just stupid.

  86. Smashville says:

    But at the same time, kicking her out of the movie should have been enough.

  87. BrockBrockman says:

    IAAL, but that doesn’t mean I have the right answer. I think the level of debate here indicates there is no black and white answer. This would be a fun fight in the courtroom.

    1. Does a person have a Fair Use right to record a segment of an in-theater movie (in this case less than 1/4% of a 2.5 hour movie, which happens to be the climactic battle scene) with a relatively low-quality camera for the purpose of “hyping” her little brother to go see the movie? Try applying the Fair Use factors, and see what side of the fence we are on.

    2. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution renders state law the violates federal law invalid. Fair Use is a federal law. If she does have a Fair Use right, does the Virginia Statute run conflict with her Fair Use rights?

    I suspect in some instances, the Virginia Law might conflict with federal Fair Use law. It’s kind of like a school policy that prevents kids from wearing hats – should that prevent kids from exercising their religious rights by wearing religious headgear? I don’t know if this is the instance that conflicts with Fair Use, but I’m on her side.

  88. Trai_Dep says:

    I think Regal and the other chains should remove the kid gloves and just start castrating kids caught filming mini-clips of movies. By 16-year-old ushers, so we don’t tangle up the court system.


    BTW, I have a cybershot camera. They’re great still cameras. But they have a limit on the length of film you can make, and – for pirating – the sound and resolution quality is abysmal. Once glance and Regal should have backed off.

  89. jamar0303 says:

    …I am so glad I live in China for times like this. The last time someone used a cellphone in a theater here (Paradise Warner Cinema, Shanghai- guess who owns it?) they were carried out of the theater by a combination of security and audience members and it almost erupted into a fistfight. On the other hand, I have never seen anyone with a camera in a theater. Hey, with DVDs going for $.50 here you have to make the movie experience worthwhile.

    The “theater experience” here only costs $3 in the suburbs, BTW- $5-6 if you go downtown to the one I mentioned above and $12 for VIP seats that are like… mini-armchairs and the ushers bring the concessions to you when you buy them. Now that’s service, but again, they have $.50 DVDs to compete hwith here so they have to try real hard.

    Off-topic tangent? Oh yeah, but just had to let it all out.

  90. Saboth says:

    Wow a lot of idiots on here. “Stop breaking the law” “Dont videotape movies”. Did you read the article at all? Camera phones usually record about 15-20 seconds of “video” (if you can call that resolution a video). Now, if a commercial use machine were being used to record the content, I’d say it’s obvious charges should be pressed. Until camera phones come with 10 GB drives and high def recording, I don’t think she should be prosecuted.

  91. MeOhMy says:

    @Original Article:

    Jhannet Sejas taped a 20 second clip of Transformers on her Canon Power Shot camera


    Wow a lot of idiots on here. “Stop breaking the law” “Dont videotape movies”. Did you read the article at all? Camera phones usually record about 15-20 seconds of “video” (if you can call that resolution a video).

    Now THAT’S comedy.

  92. Movie theatres with an interest in this issue should publicize laws/policies (with warnings during the previews and/or posters in the lobby) so that no one can say “I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong!

    @acambras: Are there movie theaters that don’t do this? I’ve only been to a few but they have all had a poster that said not to record the movie. They didn’t always cite specific laws but even if it’s just a rule the theater has that people not record the movie that ought to be enough.

    …I think the original article said it was a cell, not a camera…

    @howie_in_az: Not the one Consumerist linked to, it only said “digital camera”.

  93. @Rectilinear Propagation: Or the name of the camera as Troy F. pointed out.

  94. killavanilla says:

    @Troy F.:
    Why should the cameras capabilities factor in to anything?
    She recorded 20 seconds, during the middle of the movie.
    No one can prove she intended to share it with anyone. Chances are, she was doing it for personal use.
    Shadow of a doubt, my man. That’s the standard.
    Yes, she is 19. Yes, piracy is an issue.
    But is anyone who is willing to pirate a movie going to be even remotely concerned over a case like this? Pro pirates don’t use point and shoot camera’s, they use digital video cameras to get the best possible video and audio.
    This is a ridiculous case.
    I’m an enforce the law kind of guy, but this is beyond the intended scope of the law.
    Drop the charges, Regal. This will only make things tougher for you in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

  95. MeOhMy says:


    Why should the cameras capabilities factor in to anything?

    Because if the camera could not possibly have recorded the entire movie, the prospect of pressing charges becomes absurd.

    It would be like a guy robbing a bank with a water pistol and being charged with attempted murder.

    No one can prove she intended to share it with anyone. Chances are, she was doing it for personal use.
    Shadow of a doubt, my man. That’s the standard.

    Precisely why I pointed out that they probably don’t have enough evidence to convict her. That does not mean they do not have enough evidence to try to prosecute her. They caught her in the act, for pete’s sake. There’s no way the theater is going to let the “You caught me before I could finish the job…er…I was only ever going to record 20 seconds for my brother! Honest!” excuse fly. Doing so would open up a can of worms – how long must the recording be to justify prosecuting? How expensive must the person’s recording equipment be? Since they’ve got an actual state law backing them up they can just let the court sort it out and I can’t say I blame them.

    Also, you asked me why the capabilities of the camera should be a factor, but then you say that one reason the charges should be dropped is because it’s a P&S cam…does the cam matter or not?

  96. Tony C says:

    I see the grapevine effect has changed little but important details along the way.

    AFAIK, the original article was in the Washington Post, entitled “Out of the Theater, Into the Courtroom” ([])
    The 19 year old “girl”, which I’m assuming people are milking because she’s still a teenager? Sorry. She’s an adult.

    The “digital camera” in question was not a camera phone. It was a Canon Powershot — the exact model isn’t known, but it was a real digital camera, not a phone. Held up and used in a theater to record an exciting scene for her 13 year old brother? Who does that?? Who exactly is stupid enough to whip out a hand held digital camera in a movie theater and start capturing video?

    She claims to have recorded the climax scene of Transformers to get her little brother “hyped” about the movie. The article specifically states that “they missed the end” of the movie, likely due to being interrupted and walked out of the theater by the police. How would she know it was the climax scene if she hadn’t seen it before? And what of all the teasers, trailers, interviews and “making of” videos available on TV and the Internet? Doesn’t anyone watch those anymore? Maybe the industry should stop making them and just let people record their own.

    Both the “girl” and the theater did something stupid — the woman was an idiot for doing what she did, but just the same, the theater manager (who had the sole discretion in pressing charges) has blown this case completely out of proportion. Even the “banned for life” was pretty damn harsh. If they’re trying to make an example of this alleged “pirate”, they’ve chosen themselves quite the martyr, because word of the arrest hit national news very quickly.

  97. rjhiggins says:

    @AlteredBeast: Stupid comments. First, the vast majority of theater goers are young people. Today the “Internet community” comprises much of the world, not just those of you involved in illegal downloading. And to suggest that older people (which I assume for you means anyone over 30) are not “net savy” (sic) is pretty ignorant.

  98. ARPRINCE says:

    Give the BIATCH a break!

  99. jitrobug says:

    Personally, I started boycotting regal over those pepsi girl commercials they used to run before every movie.

    I broke my boycott because they built a fancy new theater and I thought I’d give them a shot. Half the screen was blurry.. So I already don’t like the chain for quality of service issues.

    All I can see in this incident is how badly they chose to treat a paying customer who was trying to get them another paying customer.

    I’m also really unimpressed with how the comments on the site have changed in the last 6 months. A little more exclusivity would go a long way.

  100. slungsolow says:

    @jitrobug: All I can see in this incident is how badly they chose to treat a paying customer who was trying to get them another paying customer.

    So with that in mind, is it okay for me to steal a double cheeseburger from McDonalds so I can let my 13 year old brother taste it?

    yeah, the suggested punishment is harsh, but she’s not sitting in jail, and she’s probably enjoying her new found celebrity.

    Also, the particular Regal theater where she got caught is pretty decent. Saw Transformers there myself. Twice. Didn’t bother to record it though.

  101. jitrobug says:

    @slungsolow: Your analogy would work great as long as you replaced “steal a cheeseburger” with “take a photo of a cheeseburger”

    Thereby stealing the McDonald’s intellectual rather than physical property.

  102. bnissan97 says:

    This is ridiculous.

    The little girl had no ill intent or profit idea in mind when she filmed a little clip.

    All should be dropped and forgotten about.

    Hopefully for being soo stupid and vengeful Regal Cinemas will go broke from boycott. We do not have room for such horrible businesses in the country.

    Well then most businesses should go broke–lol

  103. filliam says:

    For those saying she should have been given a warning, consider this: more than likely Regal Cinemas (or the security guards at the theaters) do warn people and take care of situations like this quietly. However, when it’s just a warning, it’s not a major news story. By demonstrating what they are capable of doing within the law, they are sending a message to potential and current bootleggers, as well as starting a public dialogue on the subject. They’ve brought attention to the issue.

  104. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @jitrobug: Amen.
    Folks don’t read? It’s not “just like” all these other things…
    So I can shoot some opinionated assface in the skull and say I was doing it for my brother?

  105. slungsolow says:

    @jitrobug: You fail to take into account that the film you are viewing is a PRODUCT, not a representation of one – like a picture of said cheeseburger. The film you’re viewing is a tangible good. It is “just like” stealing, in that it “is” stealing.

    further on the additional comments:

    1) she isn’t a “little girl” – she’s 19 years old
    2) no one but her will know her actual intent – so stop saying that she had “fair use” intentions
    3) she was given a warning, in that it is common knowledge that recording in movie theaters is a no no – some theaters say as much on the back of the tickets, others put a little warning at the beginning of the reels.
    4) ANYONE who puts up a light emitting device (like a video recorder) in the middle of a crowded theater DESERVES to be punished by the theater itself. folks paid good money to watch said film, and they deserve to watch it without distraction from stupid 19 year olds who say their brothers can’t be bothered by existing marketing materials.

  106. Javert says:

    @Buran: Fair Use exemption?????? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT THIS EVEN IS?? I am so sick of people who heard this cute little phrase and use it like some sort of shield against copyright law. Fair use is clearly defined by LAW. Within the law fair use is determined first by its purpose: …”for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research”. To sum it up for those who don’t understand legal things (Buran, you have a paper and pen handy?) Fair use is done to allow for public review, comment, etc., or to allow a work to be studied in a learning environment.

    Making a clip for your brother is not one of these. Even then, if you fall within one of the above classes, you still have more criteria to look at which I am not going to do now because she does not even fall into the first class of fair use.

    Before you throw fair use around (which you do on the consumerist) learn the freaking law. You use a term like fair use and have no clue what it means.

    Seriously Buran, either you are (1) a really crappy attorney who slept through copyright class; (2) a lay person who has heard this cute phrase but has no idea what it means; or (3) are the girls parents trying to drum up public opinion.

    Before you EVER use the term fair use again, please read the LAW first. Here…[] Go to this page and look at section 107. Maybe you will learn something. Until then, feel free to comment on this or any other intellectual issue topic but STOP USING SPECIFCIALLY DEFINED LEGAL TERMS without having a clue as to their use. Seriously, stop it. This is the second time I have called you out on this and it is getting old.

    Class dismissed.

  107. veal says:

    TOO MANY LAWS. We hire people to work full-time making these crap laws. Then we hire people to throw us all in jail for breaking them. Then we have to pay them again just to get out.

    It’s nothing but a straw-man industry meant to keep us all scared, all the time. Police state is in full effect.

    Transformers is utterly worthless as a movie, to boot. It should have been free, come-one-come-all. THEY should be paying US for the right to foist such garbage on us, and we should be able to jail them for advertising it as a worthwhile pastime. You give corporations the rights of humans and humans end up getting treated the way this girl was.

  108. Mr. Gunn says:

    She stole nothing, yet some people here would love to see her in jail because they were annoyed by someone in a theatre with a phone once.

    What is wrong with you people?

  109. Mr. Gunn says:

    filliam: The only thing they brought attention to is that they’re class A asshats.

    Read This.

    What it comes down to is that some people are happy to see something bad happen to another person, because it’s not fair – nothing good ever happens to them.

    No compassion = equal levels of misery for everyone

  110. Javert says:

    @veal: Yes too many laws. Why should we stop someone from stealing? Bah. She didn’t steal from you, right? And you thought the movie sucked…then stealing it ok? So, by your reasoning, if I observe you at work and IMO your work stinks, I get to take your check?? Cool.

  111. @sleze69: And how much do you suppose you can “videotape” with a standard issue camera phone which usually caps clips at 30-60 seconds and typically only has a total space of about 2-10 megabytes?