It should come as no surprise but the movie industry has imposed a ban on Google Glass and smart watches. Influential industry organizations, namely the National Association of Theater Owners, and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), have jointly released a statement that does more than encourage theater to prohibit the allowance of eyewear or smartwatches, or other devices that can be used to surreptitiously record movies.
There is no specific mention of Google Glass or any other brand name device, but the implication is obvious in the recently updated theft-prevention policy. The guidelines state that there should be a zero-tolerance policy with movie attendees wearing smart or intelligent devices with the capability to record video. It also states that wearable devices and smartphones must be turned off and locked away during shows. Individuals who fail to abide by the policy will be asked to leave, and where the illegal recording activity is suspected, the authorities may also be notified.
There are no hard numbers as it may be difficult to quantify, but illegal recording of both music and video has been estimated to be in the billions annually. There, are not only losses in revenue, but job loss, and there are significant losses in both corporate and personal income tax revenue. The piracy, although done on a relatively small scale still threatens to undermine the entire industry, and there appears to be little recourse by the movie industry, but to institute a ban on devices such as Google Glass. The industry is being hurt enough that employees in specific theaters may be eligible for rewards of up to $500 for identifying any illegal recording activity.
The reception to Google Glass since it was introduced to a wider audience in May 2014 has been mixed. It is hated by some and loved by others, and has undergone a few revisions. The $1500 sale price has contributed to it being seen as an elitist product, and it has also come under fire with concerns about privacy. The device is capable of recording still and video imagery, and operates wirelessly with 802.11 technologies for Wi-Fi connections or to smart phones that can upload content to the Internet.
The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), with headquarters in Washington DC, is a non-profit organization that assists in developing policies at the federal level. The organization is seen as a representative for more than the 32,000 theater screens in 50 U.S. states, and cinemas in more than 80 other countries around the world. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) is the representative of the American motion picture industry and membership includes industry heavyweights such as Disney Studios, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Studios.
The use of wearables can be expected to continue to grow as the technology expands, and although the discretionary use is left to the owners, it can be difficult to curtail illegal activity. There has not yet been any reaction from manufacturers, since the movie industry has instituted the ban on devices such as Google Glass, and it is difficult to say how and if the sales of these devices will be affected.
By Dale Davidson