Police arrest moviegoer secretly recording blockbuster in theater

A moviegoer caught secretly recording the science-fiction blockbuster "Transformers" and charged with unauthorized use of a video camera in a theater in the first arrest under a new city law that stiffened penalties for pirating films.

A criminal complaint accuses Kalidou Diallo of slipping a video recorder, video player and remote control into a sneak preview of the film at a Bronx theater Monday night.

"This is the first time someone has been arrested and charged with the new illegal camcording law," City Hall spokesman Jason Post said Thursday.

In May, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed legislation that upgraded film piracy from a violation with a $250 (183 EUR) fine to a misdemeanor that carries up to six months in jail and penalties of up to $5,000 (3,665 EUR).

The Motion Picture Association of America says more than 40 percent of bootlegged films in the U.S. are secretly videotaped in New York City theaters. The tapes are typically sold for mass reproduction or posted on the Internet, sometimes just hours after a movie has opened.

Pirated movies cost major U.S. film studios more than $6 billion in 2005, according to the trade association.

Police arrested Diallo, 48, after an officer seated behind him in the theater saw him raise his right arm after the film began, court papers said. During a search shortly after the movie ended, police found a video recorder "strapped underneath his right arm via a body harness," and a video player and remote control in his jacket pockets, the papers added.

Diallo was released on Tuesday without bail and ordered to return to court on Sept. 20. No telephone number was listed for his Bronx address, and the name of his lawyer was not immediately available.

"Transformers" broke box-office records on its official opening day Tuesday, taking in $27.4 million (20.1 million EUR) to set a new high for Tuesday openings. The movie - based on the Hasbro toys that debuted in the 1980s - chronicles a war between two factions of giant shape-shifting robots that bring their battle to Earth. The cast includes Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight, Josh Duhamel and John Turturro.