Samantha Tumpach’s New Moon Taping charge dropped



Filed under : Best of The Week

A Chicago woman arrested for illegally videotaping the movie “Twilight: New Moon” got her happy ending Friday when Cook County prosecutors abruptly dropped the felony charge filed against her.
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Samantha Tumpach would have faced up to three years in prison if she had been convicted of secretly copying three minutes of the film during a Nov. 28 trip to the Muvico Theater in Rosemont.

The 22-year-old — who spent two days in a jail cell following her arrest — was in a Rolling Meadows courtroom with several relatives on Friday morning when prosecutors announced with little explanation that they will not pursue the case against her.

Her arrest during a family birthday party at the theater for her older sister drew national attention, including support from the movie’s director, Chris Weitz.

Tumpach, who had never been arrested previously, was charged with a rarely used felony charge intended to prevent movie patrons from secretly recording new movies with handheld cameras, then selling bootleg copies.

Tumpach acknowledged there were a couple of short segments of the movie on her digital camera — though she contended she wasn’t trying to record the hit movie.

Instead, Tumpach said in an interview that she was taping parts of her sister’s surprise 29th birthday party celebrated at the Muvico Theater — including her and other family members singing “Happy Birthday.”

The three minutes of footage she shot inside the theater, Tumpach said, also included film previews and ads, along with short segments of the film — and her talking about the camera and the movie.

“It was never my intention to record the movie,” Tumpach said in an earlier interview.

As news of her arrest spread, Twilight director Chris Weitz e-mailed the Sun-Times to say he was concerned about Tumpach’s arrest.

“There is, needless to say, a difference between trying to protect the copyright of a film and making an unfair example of someone who clearly seems not to have any intentions towards video piracy,” Weitz wrote.

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