New Law in Russia Looks to Ban Selfies and Videos in Cinemas

By Bill Toulas / July 24, 2020

If you were planning to take a couple of selfies while you’re waiting for the film to start in a Russian cinema and then share it on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, it looks like you have run out of luck. The Russian Ministry of Culture has just presented a draft of legislation meant to prevent “camming” in cinemas, and the bill is pretty strict in its current form.

“Camming” is the method of going to the cinema and recording a movie, and then uploading it online as a torrent to share it with others.

Related: Italy to Criminalize Movie ‘Camming’ in Cinemas

The picture and audio quality of “camcorded” films are obviously hugely degraded. However, a surprisingly large number of internet users don’t have any problem with this and still draw enjoyment from watching a movie that hasn’t been released in Blu-Ray yet.

Cinema owners, copyright holders, film producers, and actor coalitions all believe that this form of piracy is hurting their profits since many of the pirates would otherwise have to pay for a cinema ticket to watch their films. This is why in several countries like in the United States, for example, one could end up in jail if caught engaging in “camming.”

The Russian Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova has posted on Facebook about the matter, calling the problem a severe one that needs to be dealt with using tough measures. She mentions the Russian film industry, music industry, book industry, and the domestic software industry lose the most because of internet piracy.

However, this is very loosely connected to what is really going on in cinemas. The official stats of Russian agencies aren’t giving any sense of urgency either, as the act of “camming” has been following a downward trend since 2018.

Finally, Lyubimova warns that the authorities will issue fines of up to $700, even to those who capture and upload fragments of audiovisual content taken from inside cinemas.

The existing laws still treat “camming” as a crime, but the intent is also considered for the pirates to be arrested and prosecuted. That would be to upload the recording on torrent platforms. The new law plugs this hole and treats all recordings from inside a cinema a crime, no matter the intent, and even if nothing gets eventually uploaded online.

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