Just a couple months ago, we wrote about the MPAA's insane "zero tolerance" policies
that it was sending to movie theaters, telling them to be extra vigilant in stopping anyone from filming movies:
The MPAA recommends that theaters adopt a Zero Tolerance policy that prohibits the video or audio recording and the taking of photographs of any portion of a movie.
Theater managers should immediately alert law enforcement authorities whenever they suspect prohibited activity is taking place. Do not assume that a cell phone or digital camera is being used to take still photographs and not a full-length video recording. Let the proper authorities determine what laws may have been violated and what enforcement action should be taken.
Theater management should determine whether a theater employee or any other competent authority is empowered to confiscate recording devices, interrupt or interfere with the camcording, and/or ask the patron to leave the auditorium.
As we noted at the time, these kinds of policies seem more likely to piss off movie viewers than to actually stop any form of "piracy." And, indeed, as pretty much every one of you has sent in this morning, a story over at The Gadgeteer appears to show these overreaching policies in action, as a guy wearing his Google Glass (with the power off) was summarily yanked out of the theater in the middle of a movie
and held in an office while a bunch of people posing as officials quizzed him about who he was recording for.
The story is a little short on some key details. For example, it's never clear who the people interrogating him actually are associated with. The article title claims "the FBI" and other reports have similarly claimed the FBI was involved, but that seems unlikely. Apparently someone claimed to be with the "federal service" which is not what anyone would say if they were actually a federal employee. Someone is claimed to be from "the Movie Association" -- which might mean the MPAA (the Motion Pictures Association of America), but that's hardly clear. It's especially odd since the person who went through the experience claims that he got the business card of this guy -- named "Bob Hope" -- from "the Movie Association" so if it was actually the MPAA, you'd think he'd look at the business card and properly state where the guy came from. Or, you know, send in a picture of the business card (perhaps with contact info redacted).
To be honest, all of those factors make me question the legitimacy of the entire story -- though there have been other similar stories in the past that we've seen involving mobile phones. And it does fit with the MPAA's guidelines on "zero tolerance."
: AMC has confirmed
that "a guest with a potential recording device inside the auditorium was questioned at our AMC Easton 30. Another report says that the MPAA was on site
and interrogated the guy and then contacted DHS, claiming they have "oversight for movie theft." I'd be curious to see where or how DHS has authority over "movie theft." I'm guessing people will claim it's an ICE issue, but that goes way
beyond what ICE is supposedly working on.
Separately, the guy begged the "police" or whoever was there to look at his Google Glass and go through his private things. While that has no bearing on the legitimacy of his story, as Popehat recently reminded people, this is monumentally stupid
for a whole variety of reasons.
Whether or not this turns out to be a legitimate story, this issue is going to come up again and again as Google Glass and a flood of similar products heading to market become more popular. The MPAA's "zero tolerance" attitude and its general antipathy towards any new technology it can't control or quash is going to lead to this sort of scenario playing out one way or another eventually. If the MPAA and the theaters had any vision at all, they'd be working out a better way to deal with it, but since they seem to see everything as a black and white situation, expect an even more extreme version of how they've treated mobile phones -- even to the point of (at times) requiring them to be confiscated before people can go into the theater -- thereby encouraging fewer people to actually go to the theater.