The Inquirer reports that last week, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law the Anti-Camcording Act of 2009, which has intensified the government’s anti-piracy efforts in the country.
Under the Anti-Camcording Law, any person who is caught using or attempting to use an audiovisual recording device to transmit or make a copy of any part of a performance in an exhibition facility of any cinematographic film or other audiovisual work will be fined from P50,000 to P750, 000 face imprisonment of a minimum six months and one day to six years and one day.
While it is just right that making camcording illegal and handing out a stiff penalty for its commission, I find troubling the other provisions of the said law. Allow me to illustrate.
First, consider its definition of what is an “audiovisual recording device”
a digital or analog photographic or video camera, or any other technology or device capable of enabling the recoding or transmission of a cinematographic film or other audiovisual work, or any part thereof, regardless of whether audiovisual recording is the sole or primarily purpose of the device.
By this definition, mobile phones with built-in cameras, which are so common nowadays, are included in the purview of the law. Being able to send and receive messages including MMS which contains video or audio clips it falls squarely as a device capable of recording and transmission of a audiovisual work.
Now, using an audiovisual recording device to record or at least attempting to do so is not the only act being punished by the new Anti-Camcording law. It now includes possession of such device inside the exhibition facility of such cinematographic film, like a movie house, a possible offense under the law.
Does this mean that any device capable of making audiovisual recordings, including the now ubiquitous camera-phones, will be banned inside cinemas even if owners don’t have the intention of pirating the movie they’re going to see?
Apparently so, as Section 7 of the law requires the posting of notices or signages warning against the bringing of audiovisual recording devices in movie houses or wherever movies are being shown. Not only that, it also reserves for the management/operator of the movie house the authority to take into preventive and temporary custody such audiovisual recording device/s, meaning our mobile phones, until the film/movie theater patron, that’s us moviegoers, leave the movie house.
Now that movie theaters can temporarily hold on to customers’ camera phones, I have the following questions:
- How sure are we that our camera phones and point-and-shoots, would be safe while in the preventive custody of the movie house management?
- In the unfortunate event that our devices do get damaged or stolen while in the management’s preventive custody, would we be able to hold them liable for the loss or damage?
To these main questions, I can’t help come up with follow-ups;
Would movie houses charge for more because now they have to set up an audiovisual recording device counter and hire additional staff to handle it?
If ever the movie theater management is indeed liable for lost or damaged devices while in their temporary custody, would this mean more charges for us patrons because now they have to get insured in case they really do have to replace or repair a damaged gadget?
It seems that the new Anti-Camcording Law has indeed made things tougher for movie pirates, but on the other hand, it has opened a can of worms with regards to property and privacy issues.
But this is not all of it. I also have concerns regarding the additional powers and authorities given to law enforcement agencies by this law. But that is for another post for another time.