New York Enacts the Piracy Protection Act

Intellectual Property: Effective as of December 2008, New York has a new law directed at curtailing “multimedia” privacy, and is specifically aimed at preventing music and movie pirating.

The new law strengthens and enhances New York’s laws that relate to recording entertainment productions. Specifically, the law makes the recording of a motion picture or live theater production a first, second and third degree crime, depending upon the wrongdoer’s intent in recording the work. Specifically, the act becomes a second degree crime if the recording is done “for financial profit or commercial purposes;” where the person has been previously convicted of violating the Piracy Protection Act in the past five years; or where the recording constitutes a substantial portion of the performance.

Moreover, the use of a recording device in a theater becomes a first degree crime if the wrongdoer if he commits the second degree crime and has been previously convicted of a second degree violation of the law within the past ten years. A first degree violation is considered to be a felony.

Notably, however, to have committed a third degree violation of the Piracy Protection Act, the law is very broadly construed. For instance, it does not appear to matter the quantity of the performance that is recorded. Rather, the mere use of a recording device in a theater is enough to trigger a violation of the law. Moreover, a “theater” for the law’s purposes is very broadly defined so as to include concert halls, theaters and auditoriums for various types of performances. There is, however, an exception built into the law for student performances.

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