If someone were to get caught illegally recording a movie in New York City today, he would get charged with a violation (like a speeding ticket) and hit with, at most, a $250 fine. Not much of a deterrent, I daresay, for folks who make a criminal enterprise out of making and selling bootlegs. Furthermore, only the folks actually in the theater with the camcorder would get in trouble -- everyone else, like the people doing the selling, get off scot-free, assuming they're not breaking any other laws.

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was joined Monday by Tina Fey and a couple of other movie types for the unveiling of the "Piracy Protection Act," which would make piracy either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on whether you're a first-time or repeat offender, and punish it with actual, y'know, jail time (up to a year for first-timers). They're hoping to have the law in place within the month. So, uh, if you're in New York City and you're planning to bootleg something, I'd recommend doing it now.

This law is obviously a result of movie industry lobbying, as evidenced by MPAA president Dan Glickman standing by Cuomo's side at the press conference. Does the new punishment fit the crime? Will harsher punishments make a difference? (I'm not so sure -- especially not if New York law enforcement doesn't dedicate more effort to actually ferreting out the bootleggers.) And are you surprised to hear that up until now people could record movies with virtual impunity, even if they got caught?

ed note: Corrected Attorney General's name