LOS ANGELES – A movie theater projectionist who used night vision goggles to spot a teenager illegally taping "Spider-Man 2" (search) could receive up to $500 for his surveillance work, which led to the teen's arrest.
The film industry's trade group hailed the arrest and credited its recent initiative to offer cash rewards of up to $500 to theater employees who turn in moviegoers attempting to make illicit film copies.
"In theaters nationwide, there are now thousands of eyes looking for camcording-pirates and this incident proves that pirates who use these devices in theaters will be caught," said James W. Spertus, vice president and director of antipiracy operations for the Motion Picture Association of America. (search)
The 16-year-old could be charged under a law that went into effect Jan. 1 and makes taking a recording device into a movie theater a crime punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.
The Los Angeles District Attorney's office will review the case and decide whether to charge the teen, who was released to his parents' custody, said Sgt. Mel Amoroso, a spokesman at the Los Angeles Police Department's Devonshire Division.
Camcorders account for 92 percent of all illegal copies of films that are sold online and on street corners worldwide, according to the MPAA.
The teen, whose identity was not released, was among the throngs of midnight movie viewers across the country who crowded theaters for the debut of the "Spider-Man" sequel.
According to the MPAA, the projectionist at the Pacific Winnetka theater in the Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth spotted the teen using a camcorder a few minutes into the start of the film. He and two others with him were removed from the theater and turned over to the police.
The camcorder contained a recording of the beginning of the film, the MPAA said.