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Student Cleared in Landmark 3D Movie Piracy Case

Written by Rehana Ali on 15 January 2015

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The facts

In early January a Birmingham based student went on trial for attempting to make a pirate copy of a 3D movie, the case was unique as it was the first time a person had ever been accused of attempting to pirate a 3D movie.

The prosecution claimed that the film and technology student had attended a Cineworld cinema late last year, carrying a homemade recording device comprised of 2 high definition cameras worn on the student’s chest, apparently these were placed inside a custom made box to facilitate recording of each individual eye (as required for 3D imaging). However the student was detained by security before he even entered the screening and was referred to the police. The student claimed he had no intention of recording the movie and had taken the device to the cinema to record his friends?

The law

It must be noted that the UK currently does not have any specific “anti camming legislation” and in the above case no copyright infringement occurred. The prosecution therefore accused the student of possessing a 3D camera with the intent to commit fraud (for the attempted recording and distribution of the copy).

The verdict

The presiding Judge dismissed the case on the grounds that there was no legal basis for the case, the Judge further commented that there was no evidence to suggest that the student even intended to commercially exploit any copy and that if he uploaded a copy to the internet the offence would have been one of copyright infringement and not fraud.

The federation against copyright theft (FACT) spoke out in favour of the prosecution stating “the circumstances under which the student entered the cinema provided strong evidence of the fact that he intended to commit a criminal offence”.

The significance of this decision is that it could potentially pose problems for future prosecutions of a similar nature. 

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