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Film pirates must already ask themselves if illegally taping a movie is worth the jail time, court fines, and public humiliation they face if caught in the act. Soon, sneaky cinema-goers have to ask themselves a new question. Do they feel lucky?
The Motion Picture Association of America announced plans today to issue "licenses to kill" to more than 3,000 theater ushers across the country. MPAA president Jack Valenti hailed the move as "victory for film fans across the country."
"We're done wasting money on public service announcements," Valenti told a crowd of reporters at a press conference Monday. "It's time to waste the pirates."
The MPAA estimates that the movie industry is losing billions of dollars a year to movie piracy; it says that camcorder copies of more than 50 popular films hit streets and the Internet days before debuting in theaters in 2003.
The new licenses, currently recognized only in California and Texas, allow theater ushers to arrest and immediately execute anyone caught with a camcorder or other recording device inside a movie theater.
The measure will work side-by-side with an existing MPAA plan to give $500 to private citizens who identify or detain people with camcorders in movie theaters. California law already makes it a crime to bring a camcorder into theaters and Warner Bros. recently shipped night vision goggles to British theaters in a failed attempt to prevent pirates from copying the latest installment in the Harry Potter series.
Now we’re issuing film pirates a one-way ticket to hell for which there are no refunds.
"We've tried reasoning with [pirates] and we've tried jailing them. Nothing has worked," Valenti said. "Now we're issuing film pirates a one-way ticket to hell for which there are no refunds."
Valenti said that the measure will officially take effect June 29, one day before the opening of Spiderman 2. Reels of the film will ship with the special licenses and a Smith & Wesson 4040PD single-action pistol capable of holding seven rounds.
"Law-abiding consumers have nothing to worry about," Valenti said. "We're not authorizing ushers to shoot people who talk during the movie or who forget to turn their cell phones off."
"Unless those cell phones have cameras," he added.
Critics argue that the new measures will do nothing to curb piracy in America's inner-cities, where movie-goers already face a 50 percent chance of being shot in the theater.