Film content theft

Illegal recording in cinemas

Camcorder theft is one of the biggest problems facing the film industry. Approximately 90% of new releases that are pirated are directly recorded with digital recording devices.

Individuals use digital recording devices to steal films directly from cinema screens. With technology advancing, most illegal cams are carried out these days by a smart phone or a high quality small recording device like a sports camera. Copies are then distributed internationally via the internet or used to produce DVDs for sale in the UK and worldwide.

Copies of illegally recorded movies are being acquired not just by “release groups” for distribution over the internet but also by organised crime networks that illegally produce counterfeit discs. Release groups are comprised of individuals who acquire pirated content from thieves recording illegally in cinemas and are the first source of piracy.

Sophisticated groups are now able to combine the stolen video sourced from one cinema with the stolen audio from an entirely different cinema. This audio-only theft can prove more challenging to prevent.

FACT works closely with cinema operators and distributors to ensure that best practice is carried out to prevent and detect illegal recordings taking place. Watermarking in films allows pirated copies to be traced to the source through forensic investigation.

Screener theft

Advanced copies of films used for screening and marketing purposes called ‘screeners’ can be used to make illegal copies. This type of theft is rare, thousands are sent out every year with very few leaks. To protect against screener leaks film distributors put security measures in place to ensure screeners are delivered to the intended recipients and packages can be tracked and traced.

Theatrical print theft

Theatrical print theft is the theft of a film print or digital film from a cinema, film depot, courier service or other industry related facility with intent to create illegal copies.

This type of theft enables a high quality copy of a film to be used as a master for duplication and subsequently unauthorised distribution. This type of theft is rare due to increased security measures and a certification system for industry related facilities.

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