Woman Sues Cinema After Being Arrested For Recording Twilight

Remember the woman who was arrested for recording two minutes of Twilight in a movie theatre? Turns out that after spending two days in jail, she decided to sue the cinema in which she was caught.

A 22-year-old woman jailed two days in November after being arrested for filming two brief snippets of a motion picture is lashing back at the theatre, claiming its manager demanded her arrest despite the police department's reluctance.

In a civil suit lodged in Illinois federal court, Samantha Tumpach claims local police and the Motion Picture Association of American recommended against arresting her. A felony theatre-filming charge carrying up to three years in prison was subsequently dropped.

The woman filed suit Monday, claiming emotional distress and malicious prosecution on behalf of Muvico theatres, whose manager allegedly demanded her arrest in a bid to win a financial reward. The MPAA, and the National Association of Theatre Owners offers $US500 rewards (.pdf) to movie house workers who catch pirates.

The first person arrested for filming in a US theatre, a federal and state crime in most states, was a 19-year-old woman who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour in 2007. Jhannet Sejas paid a $US71 fine for filming 20 seconds of Transformers in a Virginia theatre. Regal Entertainment Group pushed for her prosecution.

On Tumpach's camera, the authorities found a host of pictures she took in the theatre of her friends and sister, in addition to two clips of the motion picture Twilight: New Moon, according to the suit. One was 114 seconds long. The other was 85 seconds, the suit said.

One of the snippets was captured in hopes of filming Tumpach's "favourite actor taking his shirt off," according to the suit.

The lawsuit, which seeks $US50,000 in damages, claims the woman did not film with intent to pirate the movie, that instead she was having fun with her friends and family at a birthday party at the Rosemont, Illinois theatre.

"Samantha, in the open theatre area and in plain view of others, was subsequently placed under arrest, handcuffed and was walked through the theatre and out to the officers' vehicle where she was placed in the rear seat of the squad car, while numerous theatre guests witnessed, pointed and gasped as Samantha cried with fright, humiliation and shame," (.pdf) the suit said.

The suit claims that, once local officers took the woman to the station, they called the MPAA for guidance. The suit says the MPAA recommended destroying the footage and releasing her.

Linda Colangelo, a spokeswoman for Muvico theatres based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was not immediately prepared to comment.

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