Premiere audience forced to hand over their mobiles Film premiere organisers have been criticised for confiscating the mobile phones of audience members to fight piracy. The audience at the premiere of Hollywood blockbuster Kingdom of Heaven at UA Pacific Place on May 3 complained that organisers required the more than 600 guests to hand over their phones if they could take pictures or movies. Security guards searched bags for cameras and video recorders. The same measure will be adopted for the local premiere of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith tomorrow, two days before the worldwide release. Monique Woo Yuen-ming, an international lawyer at Lovells law firm, said that while anti-bootlegging laws did not allow cinema operators to retain mobile phones that took only still pictures, they had the right to deny admission to anyone who failed to co-operate. Film industry figures say the security measure is necessary because piracy is a serious problem and there might be a need to update the law to cope with challenges posed by new technology. Charlie Chau Lit-kam, past president of the Lions Club that handled the charity premiere of Kingdom of Heaven, said 20th Century Fox had decided to have phones confiscated because the premiere took place before the film was released in the United States on May 6. 'It was an embarrassing situation but we informed all the guests beforehand,' Mr Chau said. Audience member Hong Yiu-sun said he felt uncomfortable and that the measure was unnecessary. 'Mobile phones don't make quality pictures or videos. What if my phone was lost?' he said. Kingmart Advertising Company, which handled publicity for Kingdom of Heaven for 20th Century Fox, said such measures had been adopted in recent years because piracy had become a serious issue. They were not intended to inconvenience the audience. 'If a film's preview or premiere is earlier than the US release date, we are required by the US head office to take precautions such as not allowing audiences to carry any video recording equipment or mobile phones,' a spokeswoman said. Woody Tsung Wan-chi, chief executive of the Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories Motion Picture Industry Association, said piracy drove film companies to take action. 'Piracy in cinema still exists. The first BitTorrent seed of The Eye 10 was filmed in the cinema,' he said. 'But we might study the existing law [to see] whether it should be updated because of technological developments.'