Is Camcordering Ever Legitimate?

I exchanged emails with Ed Foster regarding the anti-camcordering portion of the ART Act. Ed expressed concerns about the proportionality of criminalizing camcordering, and he has a point. Merely recording a movie is not, by itself, harmful. At worst, camcordering is a preparatory step towards a criminal end (such as commercial pirating). Do we need to push the criminal boundaries this early in the process, before any such harm has occurred?

On the other hand, I cannot come up with a single legitimate reason why someone would need to camcorder a movie. I can imagine legitimate activity that might be uncomfortably close to camcordering that could lead to inadvertent problems, such as a person who has a video camera in his/her backpack (that never leaves the backpack) or a flirty couple or a family taking pictures of each other prior to a movie. But as for the act of camcordering a movie while it’s playing—is there any reason why this is legitimate behavior? If not, while the law may be unnecessary and perhaps overzealous in its consequences, it isn’t likely to sweep in people inadvertently (unlike other aspects of criminal copyright law).

UPDATE: Michael Madison has found an artist whose art will be curtailed by the law. Of course, the artist can get permission to create his art–surely not a painless process, but artists have to obtain rights clearances in plenty of contexts.

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