Both The Daily Mail and The Argus are carrying the story of seven 12-year-old Brighton, UK girls who were questioned by police after staff at a Cineworld multiplex reportedly saw that some of the girls had iPads and smartphones. Concerned that the girls might be engaging in copyright infringement by recording parts of the movie, the staff called 999 (the UK emergency services number, equivalent to 911 in the US) and requested police to help deal with the situation, which the Mail says the staff characterized as an “emergency.”
The seven girls were reportedly removed from the theater and detained for questioning, with police looking through at least some of the girls’ devices for the presence of infringing content. After the search, the police concluded that no crime had taken place and the kids were released. Three of the girls returned to the theater to finish the film, while four remained outside and waited for their parents to pick them up.
While both the Mail and The Argus report that the Sussex police and the Cineworld theater chain have apologized to the children’s families for the incident, a spokesperson for the chain also made it clear that Cineworld felt its actions were correct and justifiable. “While we regret that the customers felt distressed, we are confident that the correct procedures were followed,” said the spokesperson. “Cineworld takes its responsibility to protect the copyright of films very seriously. Copyright theft is a very real threat to the film industry and as such we work closely with film distributors and law enforcement agencies to prevent illegal recordings.”
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