“New Moon” felony conduct

22 year-old Samantha Tumpach went to a surprise birthday party for her sister that included a trip to see “New Moon” in theaters, but had a surprise of her own waiting for her: the possibility of up to three years in jail, since she taped three minutes of the party inside the theater, including the copyrighted film itself. That’s in addition to the two days she spent in jail upon being hauled out of the theater in handcuffs.

Yes, the management of the Muvico Entertainment theater called police, who showed up and arrested Tumpach for a felony charge of illegally copying a movie. And those warnings at the beginning of DVDs apparently are for real — she may REALLY be facing up to three years in jail for the incident.

At this point, it’s all up to the local police and district attorney’s office to decide how to proceed. Let’s just hope they have a better sense of scale and justice than to put a woman in jail for about one year for every minute that was captured by her videocamera during the party.

I have to think that the Motion Picture Association of America, who the theater company says has encouraged a “zero-tolerance policy” towards pirating movies, has an opportunity to save themselves some ridiculously bad press here. Remember when the music industry tried to crack down on Napster, KaZaA, and other file-sharing sites that consumers used to share music illegally? Public outcry was deafening, as individual people taken to court over the issue became instant martyrs.

It’s bad enough that Samantha Tumpach had to spend TWO WHOLE DAYS in jail because of this ridiculous incident, beginning with her sister’s birthday party no less… But if this woman spends another day behind bars over this, never mind if she receives a felony conviction and spends a year or more in jail, then she will be be the perfect symbol of a justice system gone retarded. The rights to her story will be enough to buy her own movie theater chain.

And then she can host a free screening of the movie about her ordeal, starring the pretty young actress of the moment, and let people make bootleg copies left and right.

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