The UK Cinema Association has welcomed this month’s conviction and sentencing of a film thief responsible for losses to the UK cinema industry of as least £2 million.

Vasile Nicolavecci, 24 of West Derby Road, Liverpool was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday 4 October and received an 18 month community order. He was also ordered to pay court costs of £254 and must complete 300 hours of unpaid work.

The court heard that Nicolavecci used his phone to record copies of The Railway Children ReturnWhere the Crawdads Sing and Hustle while at the ODEON and Showcase cinemas in Liverpool in June and July 2022.

Welcoming this outcome, Detective Constable Matt Goddard from the NWROCU’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) said:

“The Film Content Protection Agency referred the case to us after noticing these recordings were available on an online platform, shortly after their release. Our investigation uncovered that Nicolavecci had been recruited by an oversees organised crime group to record the films for a financial reward. He pled guilty to fraud and making for sale an article infringing copyright, and narrowly managed to escape jail. We would urge anyone who is approached to do this to strongly consider the consequences of engaging in this type of crime.”

Simon Brown, Director of the Film Content Protection Agency (FCPA), added:

This was a particularly significant and damaging case, in which several films were illegally recorded at two cinemas in Liverpool and then released online for unlawful public consumption globally. Over 90 per cent of pirated films originate from a copy recorded during a public performance in cinemas worldwide, so it’s vital that offenders like Mr Nicolavecci are identified and arrested promptly to prevent further damage to our film industry. In this case we evidenced the minimum losses from the release of the film online to be in excess of £2 million, but the reality is these were inevitably much higher. Piracy not only costs the film industry millions of pounds but affects thousands of jobs, so we welcome this conviction.

“I would like to thank the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and PIPCU for their assistance in this case”.