Woman sues cinema for wrongful arrest over illegal copying

A woman is suing a cinema after it had her arrested when she accidentally filmed a snippet of a Twilight movie while recording a birthday party hosted there.

22-year-old Samantha Tumpach of Illinois is suing the American cinema chain, Muvico, for failing to give her a warning and wrongfully having her imprisoned for two days when her sister’s birthday footage happened to include some scenes from the film Twilight: New Moon.

She was arrested under MPAA anti-camcording laws and faced a possible three years in prison if found guilty of recording the three minutes of footage. Yes, that’s right, she recorded three minutes of the 130 minute film. Surely the trailers are longer than that.

The police were confused about what to do with the woman so called the MPAA for guidance. The MPAA recommended simply deleting the footage and releasing her, but the cinema wanted to press charges as part of an effort to collect a monetary reward “for the arrest and conviction of a person engaged in video piracy”.

Even the movie’s director, Chris Weitz, said that her imprisonment was “ terribly unfair” and said he “would like to do what I can to address this.” Since Weitz has no claim over the copyright of the film, however, there was not much he could do other than voice his opposition to the move.

Under pressure from multiple sources the cinema eventually dropped the charges, but Tumpach is understandably extremely upset by the whole situation and is now planning her own lawsuit. It is unclear how successful she will be, given Illinois laws allow for this kind of thing, but she has garnered a number of supporters over the fiasco.

With the next film in the series, Twilight: Eclipse, recently released to cinemas we wonder how many more people will be arrested at the whim of greedy cinema owners.