The CEA has expressed disappointment at the Government’s decision to reject a recommendation from its Film Policy Review Panel to make attempting to record a film in a cinema theatre a criminal offence.

The Panel, which reported to Government in January, recommended that Government introduce legislation that would make it a criminal offence to record films shown in cinemas.

This followed repeated calls from all sections of the cinema industry to tackle an issue which was estimated to have cost around £220 million or over 20 per cent of box office in 2010 alone. With around 90 per cent of illicit content coming from recordings made in cinema theatres, the sector had seen the introduction of a specific criminal offence as a key element in improving both enforcement and public messaging arounfd the issue.

Despite this being the latest of a series of such recommendations from Parliamentary Committees, Government works groups and industry panels, and the fact that the Conservative Party committed to legislate at the earliest opportunity on this when in Opposition, the Government rejected the Panel’s request, arguing that current legislation was sufficient to tackle the problem.

Responding to the decision, CEA Chief Executive Phil Clapp said:

“It is hugely disappointing that the Government has decided to reject the Panel’s recommendation, not least when almost every other aspect of their report has been embraced.

We would be the first to acknowledge that current legislation – in particular the 2006 Fraud Act – has been effective in dealing with some incidents of recording in cinema theatres.

But the Government’s assertion that it acts as an effective deterrent is simply not borne out by the facts. In one three week period alone earlier this year, cinema staff across the UK thwarted at least nine serious attempts to record a film while it was playing. The lack of deterrent provided by the current legislation – despite all of the effort that the industry has put into making audience-members aware of the potential consequences of such activities – is self-evident. Cinema staff are faced with the continuing challenge of tackling the front line of film theft without the necessary support from policy-makers.

At a time when Government should be looking to do all it can to protect those providing jobs, in particular to young people, this decision is particularly frustrating.”