Citation[edit | edit source]

Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005, Title I of the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-9, 119 Stat. 218 (Apr. 27, 2005).

Overview[edit | edit source]

The Act (also known as the ART Act) was enacted as part of the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005. It is targeted at preventing piracy of movies and software. It specifically targets two activities: filming movies in a movie theater, and the early release of movies and software before they become publicly available.

Recording movies in movie theater[edit | edit source]

The Act applies to attempted as well as actual use of a recording device, and to the recording (or attempted recording) of even a small portion of a movie.

Anyone who "knowingly uses or attempts to use an audiovisual recording device to transmit or make a copy of a . . . protected work . . . from a performance of such work in a motion picture exhibition facility . . ." may be imprisoned up to three years for a first time offender, and up to six years for a repeat offender, in addition to any fines that may be levied under the U.S. Criminal Code for copyright infringement. This could apply to merely taking a cell phone snapshot of a theater screen.

The Act provides theater owners with legal immunity for questioning suspected violators or detaining them while police are summoned. Further, there is no exception for a person recording an excerpt for purposes that would constitute legal “fair use,” such as for criticism or scholarship.

Early release of a movie[edit | edit source]

With regard to unreleased works intended for public distribution (e.g., beta software or workprints), anyone who makes a work that the copyright owner expects to distribute commercially, but is not yet distributed, shall be punished if the work is "made available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution." These provisions reflect the judgment that the commercial harm to a copyright holder is likely to be significant when the work is made available online before it has been released to the public.

First time offenders can get up to three years in jail, or five if they committed the offense for financial gain. Repeat offenders can get ten years if the offense was committed for financial gain. These penalties are in addition to any penalties for violating non-disclosure agreements or trade secret law.

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