Piracy: Teenager Arrested in Virginia Pleads Guilty

August 22, 2007–The teen arrested last month for filming 20 seconds of “Transformers” in a Virginia moviehouse pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully recording a motion picture in violation of state law.

It's reportedly the first case in which a person was arrested and convicted for filming part of a movie for personal, noncommercial use in the U.S.

The guilty plea by Jhannet Sejas, 19, a Marymount University sophomore, spared her a maximum year in jail. Under last week's deal in Arlington County General District Court, Sejas was fined $71 in court costs and could have been on the hook for a maximum $2,500 fine, according to court records. If Sejas stays out of trouble for a year, the misdemeanor will be expunged from her record.

When arrested on her birthday last month, the resident of Annandale, Virginia said she was taking the short clip with a Canon PowerShot to show her 13-year-old brother.

According to recent studies of the Motion Picture Association of America, movie pirating has cost the industry $18.2 billion worldwide. Figures for 2006 are expected soon.

Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners, said 104 theater personnel nationwide in the last three years have been awarded about $500 each, in a joint venture between the owners association and the MPAA, for identifying pirates in moviehouses.