Charges filed in Montreal theater recording


TORONTO -- Canadian representatives of the Hollywood studios on Wednesday applauded the first criminal charges laid in Canada under new cinema anti-piracy laws.

"It's a step forward," Douglas Frith, president of the Canadian Motion Pictures Distributors Assn. said after Louis-Rene Hache of Montreal was charged with one count of recording in a movie theater and one count of recording in a movie theater for commercial distribution.

The charges stem from an Oct. 26 arrest of Hache for allegedly recording the Touchstone Pictures comedy "Dan in Real Life" at Cinema Guzzo's 16-screen la Cordaire Cineplex on avenue Des Grandes Prairies.

Hache has pled not guilty to both charges and was released ahead of his next scheduled court appearance on Jan. 21.

His arrest marks the first anti-piracy action by Canadian police since the introduction of new anti-camcording laws that make it a criminal offense to video-tape movies in local cinemas came into force last June.

Hache's arrest was made possible in part after a $5,000 night-vision system to detect digital camera lenses was installed in the Guzzo Lacordaire multiplex, a recent target of illegal videotapers.

The CFMPDA's Frith said that installing the night vision technology in all Canadian cinemas will be prohibitively expensive. So the Canadian studio reps also will rely on surveillance of known pirates to continue its crackdown on cinema piracy.

Frith said his organization also monitors chat rooms and Web sites where pirates auction off "good copies" of Hollywood movies to encoding groups.

Hache faces a fine or up to two years in prison if found guilty of recording a movie without a theater's permission. And he faces a fine of up to five years in prison if convicted of videotaping movies in cinemas for commercial gain.