I think it's safe to say that the fear of movie piracy has officially gone too far. On July 17th, Marymount University sophomore Jhannet Sejas (pictured) was celebrating her 19th birthday with her boyfriend at a screening of Transformers. Sejas, a Bolivian immigrant working two part-time jobs to support her education, was loving the flick. She wanted to show her little brother a clip from the film to get him excited to see it, so she took out her digital camera and recorded 20 seconds of the climax. The assistant manager of the theater saw her use the camera and reported it to the general manager. The general manager decided to bypass such reasonable steps as a) asking her never to record in the theater again, b) asking her to erase the footage or c) asking her to leave the theater, and simply telephoned the police. Within minutes, two police officers entered the theater, confiscated the camera, and charged Sejas with the crime of "illegally recording a motion picture."

Sejas says "I was terrified. I was crying. I've never been in trouble before." Sejas has been banned from the theater (where she frequently paid for and viewed films) for life, and she has to go to trial for the incident this month. She faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. The Regal Cinemas Ballston Common 12 Theater decided to prosecute the case, which is a first for Arlington police. Kendrick Macdowell, general counsel for the Washington-based National Association of Theatre Owners, says that there has to be a "zero-tolerance policy at the theater level," adding "We cannot educate theater managers to be judges and juries in what is acceptable. Theater managers cannot distinguish between good and bad stealing."

You know what? They can, actually. It's part of being a manager. This story really infuriates me. Do they really think this girl intended to sell a 20-second clip of a movie that had been out for two weeks? Where's the market for that? If anything, she was trying to give these people more money by getting her little brother psyched to see the film. If they really need to make an example of somebody, why don't they go after the people who actually do pirate entire movies, and leave this poor girl alone. Or better yet, how about we hold off on calling the police until, I don't know, there's a friggin' emergency! See, because that's what the police are for. Disgraceful.
categories Movies, Cinematical