It's illegal to videotape a vampire, but it's not necessarily a prosecutable offense.

Authorities decided to drop charges against 22-year-old Samantha Tumpach, a Chicago-area 'Twilight' fan who was arrested for taping snippets of 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' in a movie theater during her sister's birthday party, according to a report in The Wrap. It's illegal to videotape a vampire, but it's not necessarily a prosecutable offense.

Authorities decided to drop charges against 22-year-old Samantha Tumpach, a Chicago-area 'Twilight' fan who was arrested for taping snippets of 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' in a movie theater during her sister's birthday party, according to a report in The Wrap.

Tumpach faced up to three years in jail if convicted of copying parts of the film during a showing at the Muvico Theater in Rosemont, a suburb of Chicago, on Nov. 28.

"She's traumatized by this,'' said Dominick Dolci, a Tumpach lawyer to the Chicago Sun-Times. "This is the worst event of her life.'' She had about three minutes of 'New Moon' on tape, interspersed with birthday party footgage.

The case made national headlines. 'New Moon' director Chris Weitz was a supporter of Tumpach.

"Needless to say, the case seems to me terribly unfair and I would like to do what I can to address this,'' Weitz wrote in an e-mail to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Prosecutors decided drop the charge because the Motion Picture Association of America, representing the studio, didn't want the case to go forward, Sally Daly, a spokesperson for the prosecutor, told the Chicago Sun-Times. In Illinois, state law dictates that both the local theater and the film's producers must consent to the prosecution of alleged video
pirates.

Police will return Tumpach's camera but not the memory card that contains the footage. Tumpach is considering filing a civil suit against the theater.

We feel the Motion Picture Association of America's support of not prosecuting Tumpach seems to suggest a more nuanced approach to pirating as compared to the recent music recording industry's battles with downloaders and bootleggers. In a scorched earth policy, the recording industry vigorously prosecuted bootleggers on all levels, including college students and their parents. The policy left many embittered toward the record industry, and CD sales have plummeted.

Had the movie industry supported prosecution of Tumpach, it certainly would have seemed to be a case of the big guy picking on a little guy, much like when the record industry took on the college student downloaders. Perhaps the movie industry, learning a lesson for the record industry, is taking a different tact on the question of pirating.


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