Theater Ordered To Pay $10,000 For Searching Customers
from the privacy-matters dept
We’ve seen so many stories about movie theaters that have no problem treating customers like criminals that it’s surprising to see one finally get in trouble for it. JJ sent over a story about a movie theater in Quebec that has been fined $10,000 for an unnecessary search of customers. Not surprisingly, the search was to try to catch people bringing video equipment into the theater (wait, I thought the movie industry said Canadian theaters were soft on people videotaping movies?!?), but the court ruled that the search violated one family’s privacy when it also turned up a daughter’s birth control pills (which her mother wasn’t too pleased to discover) along with some snacks they were bringing into the theater. The theater owner acknowledges that they can still search bags, but have to do so with much stricter rules. Or, you know, they could treat paying attendees like they’re customers rather than criminals, and perhaps people would feel a lot better about going out to the movies.
Comments on “Theater Ordered To Pay $10,000 For Searching Customers”
Sadly, when some of the customers act like criminals, everyone else pays.
Mildly backwards–I believe you meant to say:
“When theatres treat customers like criminals, they pay. In more ways than one.”
They pay ca$h, they pay in bad press, they pay in customer decline. In short, they lose.
(PS. Are you a coward? Get a name!)
I for one know that the day I would refuse such a search, demand my money back, and that would be the last time I ever went to that theater. People need to stand up to this crap and start speaking with their wallets. Movies and music are a commodity, and you can afford to not do business with companies that treat you like criminals. Don’t buy DRM infested music, and certainly don’t go to theaters that search you upon entry. Eventually, this will hurt the **AA’s bottom line enough that they will be forced to change their business practices, lest they go out of business for good (which would not be too bad either).
Re: Rob speaks the truth...
The consumer has all the power in the world; just ask Circuit City. If consumers can put a national retail chain out of business, then they can get stupid policies changed. It is time to vote with the wallet and not patronize businesses that don’t treat you like a human.
Re: Response to: Rob on Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:31am
I agree I just got my purse searched and my water taking out for godsake! I wanted to refuse and just walk out but didn’t want to embarrass my date .
I’m planning to go back and flat out refuse its a violation of privacy!
We paid for a movie AND popcorn not like they weren’t getting they’re cut . They jack up the ticket price and we pay that because were there to see a movie not pay 15 for candy and a soda we could’ve bought at the $store- if they want to sell snacks charge comparable store prices and let me have my freakin water !
“The theater owner acknowledges that they can still search bags, but have to do so with much stricter rules.” I left that gem out of my initial comment — I think that if the theater owner is going to acknowledge that they can still search customers, the customers should loudly acknowledge that they can take their business elsewhere.
Rather than search customers why not put infrared video cameras in the theaters to monitor illegal taping? The real criminals get caught and your good customers aren’t hassled.
Jeez, why not just fill the theatre with infrared noise? You could even have pinholes with bright infrared sources all through the screen. Videotaping would be useless because it would be blinded, but people wouldn’t notice a thing.
Re: Re: Re:
Why even bother when you can hassle your customers and make them all leave and not bring in money?
It all boils down to the theaters being lazy…
Re: Re: Re:
despite being invisible to the naked eye, too much Infrared light can still cause harm to the human eye
Re: Re: Snacks
> why not just fill the theatre with infrared
> noise? You could even have pinholes with
> bright infrared sources all through the screen.
Because that won’t catch those illicit snackers, which the theater management cares a lot more about than videotapers.
Why would you leave the name of the theatre out of the article?
If anyone wants to know, it is Cinemas Guzzo in Montreal that searches moviegoers.
*random self-righteous comment*
*random snarky retort*
Re: Re: Re:
*random angry flame*
Your last comment about treating moviegoers like customers so they will feel better about going to the movies is a bit absurd. People are going to the movies in record numbers these days and I doubt the possibility that they may be searched will keep them from going.
BTW, I get searched when I go to a baseball or football game. They are looking for specific things and, if they don’t find them, everybody’s happy.
Re: Piracy matters
pretty easy to fix, if a theater searches you whn you go in, and if it bothers you then DON’T go to that theater, and call and complain when you’re not going there anymore.
if a theater told me they would have to search me before they allowed me to go in, then I would tell them “No, give me my money back”
then I would go to a different theater from then on, and
Re: Piracy matters
You sound exactly like the kind of tool that keeps this kind of moronic overreaction to piracy going.
I’m guessing you work for the industry in some capacity?
Re: Piracy matters
So, in spite of all the reported piracy record numbers of people are going to theatres? That sort of damages the movie industry’s arguments about priacy then doesn’t it.
Re: Piracy matters
That’s right, if you’re not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to worry about right?
So why are we so unwilling to give up our rights, we’re not using them anyway.
Re: Piracy matters
Because we are not guilty until proven innocent, Sheeple! its an unwarranted, unsolicited, and baseless invasion of your privacy. Why don’t you just install a webcam in your bedroom and broadcast on the internet without security, since you don’t care about your own personal privacy??
Re: Re: Piracy matters
> Because we are not guilty until proven innocent
Not one someone’s private property you’re not. That “innocent until proven guilty” standard only applies to the government when it tries to put you in jail for something.
Private property owners can search you to their heart’s content. Even this Canadian court in this case acknowledged the right of the theater to conduct searches. It just said that people need to be informed up front at the point of ticket sale that searches will be conducted.
If you don’t like it, your choice is to leave and take your business elsewhere. But you don’t have some privacy right to be free of search on someone else’s property.
They really need to be searching for a new line of work.
Re: Get a job
Coward you should be looking for a job if you don’t have one (seems like all you do is post here, what fun). If you have on you should try working instead of posting 500 times a day on this blog.
Re: Re: Get a job
“Anonymous Coward” is multiple people.
It’s the name that is automatically put in when someone doesn’t fill anything in the “Name” field.
Try it sometime.
Re: Re: Re: Get a job
I think Mr Strong Arm forgot to end his post with /sarcasm.
Re: Re: Re: Get a job
Tickets are non-refundable. They will then NOT inform you of searches until AFTER you have gotten the ticket and are inside. Granted, this will only work once, but still…if this “search the criminal moviegoer” idea catches on, look for this sort of subterfuge to become common.
Tickets are non-refundable.
LOL, yea right. I’ve gotten refunds on movie tickets before, and trust me, I’ll get more in the future if the need/situation calls for it.
but still…if this “search the criminal moviegoer” idea catches on, look for this sort of subterfuge to become common.
If that’s the case and this becomes common, I’ll give you one guess what will happen to movie theaters that condone and perform this practice. It won’t take long for them to figure it out once they have literally 0 people showing up.
Its about time
Do what I do, If they search you let them. Then I turn around and go get a refund. It really plays with their heads.
The only people I know that still go to the movies aren’t very techno-friendy folks. I don’t go to over-priced baseball, football games to make some FAT-Cat richer.
I would rather stay home and watch the games on my 70 inch HDTV. No a@$$ spilling beer on me and no idiot that saves up all year to go to home games. What a waste.
I PLAY sports, I don’t watch them.
The terrorist are winning with this type of behavior. Wake up and take your freedoms back.
Re: Its about time
“I would rather stay home and watch the games on my 70 inch HDTV. No a@$$ spilling beer on me and no idiot that saves up all year to go to home games.”
….So you’re a Cubs fan too, aren’t you?
Re: Its about time
That’s a good point.
If you reject their search outright and leave they’ll think they’ve foiled an evil pirate plot.
Let them search you to determine you’re a normal, paying customer, and THEN tell them you’re going to need your money back for being called a criminal.
That should spell it out for them.
"Theater Ordered To Pay $10,000 For Searching Customers"
…and they probably would have gotten away with it if they would have done what’s acceptable in LA…
Fill the soft drinks 1/2 way with vodka and throw in a tab of e.
I think, I should start going to the theaters again. For the fun of confrontation! Bring a HiDef camera with me… complete with a tripod and make a scene…
Don’t let the RIAA henchmen catch you, that’s automatic lethal injection.
Not going to happen
I’d just relish the opportunity to refuse a search demanded by a theater.
To address any concerns of non-refundability, just use a credit card and initiate a chargeback.
Furthermore, show me the law where ANY CORPORATION has a right to search citizen. Certainly they have a right to REFUSE service if you REFUSE the search, but they can’t make you do $hit!
Maybe they could show good movies.
If movies are so bad that people are satisfied with a crappy home video of a screen when they could rent it for a couple bucks, there’s something deeply wrong with the industry. Just once I’d like to see convincing evidence that the studios have lost a single dime to crude screenshots. If they can’t market their wares well enough to compete with somebody’s home video camera they really should just get out of business and spare us from hearing more of their idiotic whining.
We are all OK with Costco assuming everyone in the store stole something, same with Fry’s and the former Circuit City. They just tell us they want to make sure they didn’t make any mistakes at the revenue and we are all “uh ok”…
Refuse and they can’t do a damn thing without the risk of being sued. My wife hates when I make a scene…
I don’t see how you can compare looking over your cart when you leave the same as looking at your personal bag or searching you when you enter a business. Neither of these stores search your personal items, they search your shopping bags/cart. Huge difference in my opinion.
Bottom line, movie theatres need to start really doing something to earn my business and make it worth while. Maybe I’m not in the demographic any more, but sitting at home with my big screen and so on is much more enjoyable and frankly I can wait a bit for the movie to come out… after all it is just a movie.
Also at least at our sporting events, it is just a cursory check of your bag for weapons. Men in general just walk by and women open up there purse for a 3 second check. If it was anymore or they limited food or some other BS I just wouldn’t go. Frankly don’t go that often now with most events being shown in HD. Even with quality seats, still better on TV and I don’t have to worry about my elbow room and hearing f*** bombs all over the place when I take my kids.
Re: Re: Re:
> I don’t see how you can compare looking over
> your cart when you leave the same as looking
> at your personal bag or searching you when
> you enter a business. Neither of these stores
> search your personal items, they search your
> shopping bags
The moment I tender payment at the register, the items are no longer the store’s property. They’re my property and those shopping bags *are* my personal bags at that point.
Best Buy does the same thing with the exit searches. Last Christmas I had to stand in an interminably long line to check out at Best Buy only to find that once I’d cleared the register, they wanted me to stand in *another* line to have my bags inspected as I walked out the door. I’d already been standing in line for 50 minutes at that point and decided I’d had enough and headed for the doors, only to have some teenager tell me, “Sir, you’re going to have to wait in line for a bag inspection.” I told him that I was going to do no such thing and if he had a problem with it, he could call his manager or the cops or whomever he thought he needed to. Since it’s certainly not illegal to leave a store with items you’ve properly paid for, it would have been amusing indeed to see them try and involve the police in some way. Apparently the management knows they have no real legal leg to stand on and have trained their employees accordingly because once I refused the search, the clerk instantly backed down without a fight.
do cam videos really hurt?
A search of a minor in Canada would be a big deal since the minor can not legally give their consent.
Come here little girlie and let me search you for hidden electronic devices….
And they wonder..
why people don’t go to theaters anymore? When theaters stop hating customers then maybe more people would visit.
I have limited (um, no) knowledge of the Canadian legal system, but I’d sure like to understand the legal reasoning behind the fine. As others have noted, a private venue such as a movie theater has the right to impose pretty much whatever inconveniences or indignities on their customers they see fit, while the customers have the right not to participate in the process by choosing another entertainment option. (At least if Canada law mirrors US law in this area). I can see such a policy running into problems where minors are searched without parental consent, or where theater employees misrepresent their authority or refuse to refund tickets, but none of that seems to hold here; the article Mike points to just talks about a violation of “privacy rights”.
By the way, I agree with the underlying point that treating your customers this way is poor business. There is some interesting research to be done on under what circumstances customers see searches as a net positive vs. negative. For instance when I go to a major sporting event I’m happy to know that out of the 80,000 other spectators, the one yahoo trying to bring a firearm in has likely been through a metal detector. But I would not stand for a bag search at a movie theater looking for contraband snacks or cameras. Is the difference the *intent* of the search, the *nature* of the search, or the type of event/venue?
The theaters have to inform people their bags will be searched *before* they buy the tickets, and theater employees can’t put their hands inside your bags.
They did both.
Because the searches in question were beyond reasonable, and were conducted in a manner that removed the dignity of the patron. They do NOT have the right to impose ANY inconvenience or indignity. Just like you wouldn’t even on your own property.
Re: Re: Private Property
> They do NOT have the right to impose ANY
> inconvenience or indignity. Just like you
> wouldn’t even on your own property.
Actually, in the USA, I can inconvenience you when you’re on my property to my heart’s content. If you don’t like it, you’re only option is to leave. But when you’re on my property, you abide by my rules, inconvenient or not. And you don’t have a valid legal cause of action in the courts to prevent it.
Why do they care? People that are going to watch a crappy cam version of movie aren’t going to go pay for it anyways.
Be careful when you make things disappear like that, or we’ll have to start calling you Trevor.
Strong Arm you do realize everybody who doesn’t type in a name is Anonymous Coward right? Of course there’s 500 posts from AC a day they aren’t the same person.
It could have also ended with /stupid hard to say.
….So you’re a Cubs fan too, aren’t you?
You mean there actually ARE Cubs fans?
No, just fans of going to an overpriced very old and uncomfortable stadium, getting completely hammered and pissing on everyone’s lawns near said stadium.
People are Idiots
Why would a movie theater have to pay a fine for searching its’ customers, when you fly anywhere from just about any airport in the world, they check all your luggage, all your carry-on, they pat down your body (if you fail the metal detector), or even use full body scanners (in about 6 airports around the US)to basically see through your clothes. I really think the article is either missing some vital information, or there was a lot of fraud going on with whatever judge made the ruling, I’m sure if they take it to a higher court it would get overruled no problem.
Re: People are Idiots
See my comment here.
Re: People are Idiots
Um, that’s the government searching at airports, not the airlines. Government can do what private outfits can’t.
Re: Re: People are Idiots
> that’s the government searching at airports,
> not the airlines. Government can do what
> private outfits can’t.
I don’t know about Canada, but in the US, it’s exactly the opposite. There are much tighter restrictions on what the government can do than there are on private citizens and businesses.
The 4th Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure) only applies to the government. It’s never been held to apply to private citizens.
Airport searches are legal because they are consensual. You can either consent to have your luggage and person searched or you can walk out of the airport and get to your destination some other way. No warrant is necessary and the 4th Amendment is not implicated.
Movie theater and other store searches (at least in the US) operate on the same principle. They are consensual searches. If the customer doesn’t like it, they can walk away (and presumably get a refund on anything they may have purchased).
If you walked up to the security checkpoint at an airport, took one look at the magnetometers, then turned around and walked away and some cop thought that was suspicious and detained you, *then* there would be a 4th Amendment violation because consent to search is meaningless if there is a penalty (detention) for refusing consent.
Likewise, a theater cannot detain someone merely for refusing consent to search their bags. The only thing they can do is bar the person from remaining on the property. Anything more and they’re subject to civil suit for false imprisonment and battery as well as possible criminal prosecution for assault/battery if they put hands on someone and unlawful detention if they did not.
Re: People are Idiots
Oh the irony, this is nothing like that, you idiot.
Since when is it illegal for me to carry a camera into a theater?
Since when did it become illegal for me to carry my Video Camera into a Theater? Why would I leave such an expensive item in the car where the security is so bad that nearly daily cars are broken into in theater parking lots here in Dallas?
Re: Since when is it illegal for me to carry a camera into a theater?
It’s not illegal, but they can deny you service. They usually find people bringing in candy during these searches, and they make the customer bring it out to their car before they allow them access. Candy isn’t illegal either, ya know. 🙂
Never forget that the theater is private property, they could deny you access because they don’t like your shoes.
Sure, it would be bad business sense to do so, but that hasn’t stopped them yet.
So, it’s not like they’ll call the cops (or the Mounties?) on you, but they can give you your money back and tell you to have a *great* day if you insist on bringing your camera into the theater.
I’m not saying it’s a smart move, but they are within their rights.
I can't take my camera?
So what if you bring a camera in and they find it on your way in? Bringing the camera is not a crime. Using it to copy the movie is, but that couldn’t have happened at the door now, could it?
shoot all movies in 3d
let see the pirates video tape those.
Theaters should be required to inform their (potential) customers of the search prior to selling them the ticket.
It could be like the warning on the side of a pack of cigs.
I wonder how much of the new love the movie industry has for the latest incarnation of 3D is based on stopping video camera recording of movies, since that recording it is one of their “boogeymen.” The 3D display technique would have to play havoc with getting a stable image. For now 3D is also something that’s hard to get at home, but with some 3D ready TVs already that’s only a matter of time. If they could also put 3D only on BluRay to try to help further push out the DVD so much the better for them.
I don’t know what all the fuss is about on camera recorded movies. I’ve downloaded a couple just to see how bad they are, and they are awful. It would be better to wait for a DVD release and rent than sit through the ones I sampled.
They do it to employees as well
Where I work there’s a sign hanging up in the staff lunch room (serious sign, not a joke) “Treat your employees like criminals and your company will be a success, otherwise your company will face a slow death.” – and they do treat employees like criminals. If we want to go to the bathroom, we must always take someone else with us, if we need to go out any exit for any reason other than leaving(except the front door during customer opening hours) we must take at least 1 other person with us – when we leave for the day(after the business is closed) we must use 1 specific exit that only 1 person has the code for. When any staff member leaves either during the day or night all bags are searched before leaving and we must empty all pockets.
Re: They do it to employees as well
You work in China ?
Re: They do it to employees as well
Please tell us you at least work some place where this level of security is (on the surface) justified: The NSA, CIA, Pentagon, US Mint, etc. Otherwise I’d think that type of treatment is a tab bit on the excessive side.
the true state of the cinema industry
I went to see Star Trek on opening night because it’s Star Trek. Then I went to see it two more times, different groups of friends each time.
I went with friends to see Wolverine because we’re all big fans of the comic. And this was to our podunk run-down little mall cinema with only three screens. It was the last showing of the night and we were shooting the breeze with the kid running the projector talking about comics so he spooled up the alternate ending for us. They don’t bother searching customers for recording gear. Order your soda and popcorn and for a couple bucks extra the guy can get you a rip/burn of the movie.
But I think I’ll skip Terminator because it’s been panned by people who like the same sort of movies I do.
I have watched a lot of cams downloaded from PirateBay. For the most part, they are excellent. In fact, they are usually so good that it’s painfully obvious that they were shot from the projection booth. They should probably be searching their employees. The best downloads earlier this year on PirateBay were the Oscar-nominated movies. The courtesy copies given out to members of the Academy all ended up on the internet; perfect DVD copies of the movies, often released on bittorrent weeks before they came out in the theaters.
Legal rights of movie theater companies...??
I’ve learned to conceal my goods when going to a movie theater because I refuse to (a) comply with stupid, self-beneficial, customer-abusing rules, and (b) deal with the idiots who enforce these rules. Where I live, theaters would get in a heap of trouble if they searched w/o probable cause, for which they’d have to have a legal reason to suspect someone of concealing something that would directly endanger moviegoers and personnel, thus they’d have to make some sort of accusation. The police report will win your case (if you’re indeed not a perp). I’ve never concealed a camera b/c I’m not interested in taping anything, but after coming into the theater with a Starbucks venti(with which I’ve been getting in for the past 5 yrs w/o a problem) and having the little imbecile attendant tell me I couldn’t come in with it, then a measly manager, then a higher-up manager (none the general manager), and being told that they “instituted that rule” three months ago ’cause of “the hard effects of the recession” (puh-leeeze, with them charging $4 for an 8-oz bottle of friggin’ water), I’ve acquired a “moviegoing” purse, which closes, and where I now put my food AND beverages (including my Starbucks venti!). Regardless of my venti, I always ended up purchasing TONS of f*#&$ing food. Bring on the war, it’s helping me $ave by paying cheaper prices for outside food/drinks, so it looks like I AM WINNING. What I do wonder and can’t find any references on, is if they have the legal right to forbid anyone from coming in with outside goods. Anyone around here knows?
You are darn right, Rob. Movie Theaters have gone too far now, using Shopkeeper Laws to compel what would appear as reasonable search and seizure. One needs to understand, the Security Guard is looking at you, looking you over. He/she is making a value judgement about you based on who you are, your gender, ethnicity, the way you dress, and your actions. If he or she has any biases about certain groups, then that group automatically triggers the use of search and seizure, not because it is objective, but because in fact, the guard doesn’t like certain people, in addition to using the color of authority via his employer – to stop “You” and search your bag while others he likes “better than people like you,” walk right past him/her. Quesetion: How does that make you feel? Thanks for posting, Rob. Excellent post. People are according basic rights in this country of ours. Let’s continue doing the right thing. We are all one people. Have a better day..!
You are darn right, Rob. Movie Theaters have gone too far now, using Shopkeeper Laws to compel what would appear as reasonable search and seizure. One needs to understand, the Security Guard is looking at you, looking you over. He/she is making a value judgement about you based on who you are, your gender, ethnicity, the way you dress, and your actions. If he or she has any biases about certain groups, then that group automatically triggers the use of search and seizure, not because it is objective, but because in fact, the guard doesn’t like certain people, in addition to using the color of authority via his employer – to stop “You” and search your bag while others he likes “better than people like you,” walk right past him/her. Quesetion: How does that make you feel? Thanks for posting, Rob. Excellent post. People are accorded basic rights in this country of ours. Let’s continue doing the right thing. We are all one people. Have a better day..!
What counts is the intention
Even if you bring a HiDef camera with you… complete with a tripod… if you’re a paying customer, and if you have no intention to engage in any bootlegging, and you are not recording the performance, any confrontation with the staff only guarantees that, you will take your business elsewhere!
Search at theater
I am the son of a movie theater and a grandson of a movie theater and I was a theater manager at my local theater. The movie companies make tons of money at the box office. on Thursday night we had to call them to let them know of the bo office receipts. The theater itself makes very little money. My pay as a manager was less than minimum wage. I am paid based on the concession sales. We had to count the cups so we didn’t give any of them away and the seniors ( I am 65) want free cups of water and they bring in all kinds of food one snuck in a whole KFC meal. When we went to clean it up, he spilled his tobacco juice all over the floor. Another brought his granddaughter in and left her used diaper on the floor. We have a brand new theater. I carry an emergency bag in case I have a heart attack or stoke. When we went to see Deadpool, I ordered a small soda which cost $6.50. They had a sign that says no outside food, They wanted to search my emergency bag to see I snuck in any food like candy. I refused, they said no search, no going to the movies. I left and went to one of the other theaters where I live and I sent the manager a terse letter I wont be back. The manager refused my letter. Movie theaters are not an endangered species. When you have a 24 plex theater, a brand new IMAX and 6 smaller theaters, we have a choice to go. I use the power of the internet. Theaters do have Facebook and other sources were we can voice our complaints, given time they will get the hint. Funny story, I worked the night shift playing X movie. Two kids tried to sneak into an R rated movie. The show had no attendees, so I didn’t run the movie that night. The kids tired to run into the door and found themselves all alone and I said, Got you! One of the kids went to his mother who accused me of racial harassment. I called the police. I also spoke with the mother. I told her she was using race to have he son cheat me out of my paycheck. She learned she was mistaken and apologized. I told the boys, no outside food , no R rated movies without her approval. He was hired as my assistant manager when he graduated high school.