Calgary man convicted under new movie piracy legaislation

Under Canada’s new movie pirating legislation, the first person to be convicted is a man from Calgary, who pleaded guilty on Friday to the unauthorized recording of ‘Sweeney Todd’, a Johnny Depp movie.

Richard Craig Lissaman - arrested in a northeast Calgary theatre on December 21 last year - was fined $1,495 and placed on probation for a year by provincial court Judge Catherine Skene.

Lissaman has also been imposed a one-year probation including a ban on purchase, ownership or possession of any video recording equipment, even one on a cellphone, outside his home during his probation period.

The judge opined: “You can say he and his pals will watch the movie, but he has an item that is more supportive of taking something to be used to make a profit. It’s not a simple theft of an item for personal consumption.”

The conviction came as a relief to the Motion Picture industry, which had lobbied for the legislation that came into effect on June 1, 2007, and conducted a six-month investigation that led to Lissaman’s arrest.

Virginia Jones of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association said outside the court that the conviction will hopefully deter others from creating illegal copies of movies. She also added: “We would have liked to see jail ... however, this is a good start.”

Before the Criminal Code amendment came into force, the Crown had to prove a suspect was intending to distribute an illegally recorded film before action could be taken under copyright laws.

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