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Dirty Harry's New Law for 2004

Well, it's time to start thinking about next year's new laws. I still haven't even started my Christmas shopping yet, but I'm already beset by a bevy of new laws. This one's right up there with Court TV's Stupid Crimes and Misdemeanors. There's usually a good crop of candidates there for the Darwin Awards, too, if you're looking for some runners-up.

Anyway, I'm getting off track. New laws.

In California, if you go to the movie theater with your camcorder and videotape the movie before January 1, you will not have violated this crime. There are likely a number of other crimes and copyrights you will have violated, but not this one.

After the New Year, it's $2,500 and up to one year in jail for videotaping a movie in a theater. And, the guy with the popcorn next to you can make a citizen's arrest if he spots you. Only New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia have similar laws.

Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo tried to get into the news with this sound bite: "These thieves are stealing from Los Angeles and are stealing from American creativity." Wtih a palm-sized camcorder in one hand, Delgadillo stole a line from the Dirty Harry movie: "If you carry one of these into a movie theater, you have to ask yourself, 'Do I feel lucky?'"

Me? I'll just rent the DVD when it comes out. It's cheaper than buying a camcorder.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, December 04, 2003

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