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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » FEDS BUST MAN FOR PIRATING MOVIE AUDIO AT DRIVE-IN THEATER

Harold Hallikainen
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 763
From: Denver, CO, USA
Registered: Aug 2009

 - posted 03-05-2016 01:02 PM      Profile for Harold Hallikainen   Author's Homepage   Email Harold Hallikainen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 


A Pennsylvania man is facing up to five years in prison for recording the audio of several Hollywood movies at a local drive-in theater. The man allegedly worked for a release group and was caught after the MPAA tipped off the theater owner. He now faces up to five years in prison.

One of the upsides of drive-in cinemas is that people are free to chat inside their cars and enjoy a movie privately.

Pirates have a big plus as well, as drive-ins make it much easier to record high quality audio. For this reason, camcorded films are often a combination of indoor video and drive-in audio.

Generally speaking it is very hard to spot someone recording an audio stream in his or her car, but a drive-in near Pittsburgh managed to track one down with help from Hollywood.

The man, Brian Ridley, allegedly recorded audio of the movies “Sex Tape,” “Planes: Fire and Rescue,” and “The Purge” during the summer of 2014.

The 38-year-old man was caught after a tip from the MPAA who asked the theater owner to look out for his license plate, and call the local police if he did.

Following a careful investigation Ridley has recently been indicted (pdf), with the Government describing him as part of a larger conspiracy to release pirated movies on the Internet.

According to the indictment “the audio and video files would be sent over the Internet to a conspirator who would sync the audio and video files together,” after which, “the completed audio/video copies would be placed on the Internet for others to download.”

The other members of the conspiracy are not known, but it is likely that they are part of an established release group.

While Ridley supposedly recorded audio for multiple movies, he is only charged with unauthorized copying of the Cameron Diaz movie “Sex Tape.”

“Sex Tape” was not yet released at the time the audio was allegedly recorded. However, a pirated copy eventually appeared online at the end of July, after Ridley was caught.

During the arrest the authorities seized three SanDisk “Sansa” MP3 Recorders. These devices are typically connected to the drive-in’s audio feed, and presumably contained portions of the pirated audio.

According to court records Ridley has been released on bail and will be arraigned later this month. If found guilty, he faces a maximum prison sentence of three years for copyright infringement and five years for the conspiracy charge.

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Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1974
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011

 - posted 03-05-2016 01:25 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
“Sex Tape” was not yet released at the time the audio was allegedly recorded.
Something doesn't compute.

This guy was arrested for recording the audio of a movie at a drive-in theatre, but the movie was not yet released?

What am I not understanding?

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Rick Raskin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1089
From: Manassas Virginia
Registered: Jan 2003

 - posted 03-05-2016 02:02 PM      Profile for Rick Raskin   Email Rick Raskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think they meant to say released on video.

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Buck Wilson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 863
From: St. Joseph MO, USA
Registered: Sep 2010

 - posted 03-05-2016 02:39 PM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wonder if the theater owner got the $5k reward or whatever

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Jay Glaus
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 115
From: Pittsburgh, PA USA
Registered: Dec 2010

 - posted 03-06-2016 12:09 AM      Profile for Jay Glaus   Author's Homepage   Email Jay Glaus   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It was my drive in and yes Sex Tape was released in 2014 and no we did not get a reward. That could be because Homeland Security and the MPAA basically called us to be on lookout for certain car and sent a picture of the guy. He would sit in car and record the sound track. I believe he said he got about $2k per film. He said that the reason he came here was we had the best sound of all the drive ins he tried. It has been a great promotion come to where the pirates get their sound track.

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Allan Barnes
Film Handler

Posts: 86
Registered: Mar 2009

 - posted 03-13-2016 01:51 AM      Profile for Allan Barnes   Author's Homepage   Email Allan Barnes   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What type of Sound Processor & FM Transmitter do you use at your drive-in theatre ?

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1553
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006

 - posted 03-13-2016 10:17 AM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Frank Cox
recording the audio of a movie at a drive-in theatre, but the movie was not yet released?
It could happen. In my world, over 95% of the movies I run and see over
the course of a year are press, preview, or 'staff' screenings and haven't been
released yet, and in some cases haven't even been completely finished.
(rough sound mix, credits incomplete or missing entirely, etc)

Most of these are semi-private 'invitation only' events, but some are open to
the the public, & there's usually a heavy studio security presence to keep an
eye on the audience. . . and often, ME too. ( ! )

While it would be very unusual to have such a screening at a drive-in, I
suppose it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility.

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