Alleged 'Twilight' bootlegger sues movie theater

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Alleged 'Twilight' bootlegger sues movie theater

Thu Jul 01, 2010 @ 01:04PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

2009.12.04twil Remember that woman who generated national attention when she was arrested for bootlegging after using a digital recording device during a screening of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon"?

At the time, Samantha Tumpach was facing up to three years in prison, which many people (including the film's director) found ridiculously unfair considering she was just shooting footage of her sister's birthday party inside the Muvico theater in Chicago.

Now Tumpach is suing Muvico for malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and defamation.

According to the complaint, at no time did an usher give any warning to stop using a camera, even though she says she was doing so in plain sight. The woman says she began to record the opening scene of the movie "hoping to capture the title and beginning as a memory of this exciting event."

The usher then allegedly informed Muvico manager Stephen Buckus of the taping, Buckus is said to have observed Tumpach taping a minute and a half of footage of the movie. He then contacted the police department, who arrested Tumpach. She says she pleaded with authorities that she didn't know she was doing anything wrong and hadn't received any warnings.

The officers then called the MPAA to explain the situation. According to the complaint, the MPAA recommended that the memory card from the digital camera be cleared and that police should only generate an incident report.

But Tumpach alleges that Buckus demanded the filing of a felony complaint anyway. The motivation? According to the lawsuit:

"Buckus signed the criminal complaint in hopes of collecting a reward for providing information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a person engaged in video piracy when he very well knew that she was guilty of no such act."

Tumpach was held for two days in custody and appeared on the front page of several newspapers. She's now demanding compensatory damages in excess of $50,000.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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