MPAA Looks to Ban Digital Wearables



The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) along with the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) have made a step towards banning patrons of movies and movie theaters from sporting digital wearables on the order of Google Glass. The thought is to cut down on the potential of illegal recordings of movies to be made with the intent to share or sell on the black market.

Updated anti-theft policies from both the MPAA and NATO stated that they hold a zero-tolerance stance towards any type of recording device inside a theater while a movie is being shown. Cell phones and smart phones must be silenced and all recording devices, including Google Glass and other digital wearables, must be both turned off and put away when the movie starts.

Google Glass was not named outright, however, the language was clear that the wearable computer and similar devices along with other wearable devices are the specific targets of the ban. Wearing Google Glass would enable the wearer to record the movie from their seat, download it, burn it to DVD and try selling it. Something both the MPAA and NATO are attempting to prevent.

TorrentFreak reported last year that the MPAA admitted that they had no proof that Google Glass was a threat to steal content from movie theaters. The devices currently do not have the battery power to record an entire theatrical release. However, theft experts believe that if an individual is determined to steal something, whether it be a car or a movie, they will find a way. The MPAA has always had a ban when it comes to any type of recording device no matter how long the device may record. Now the policy adds all digital wearables, not just Google Glass.

How the policy will be policed is another question. A number of theaters nationwide have signs and notices to turn off cell phones before the movie begins, however, there is always one patron who has to answer a call or send a text message during the movie, resulting in an annoying glow coming from the device. And with the size of the wearables, it is quite possible for an individual to put on their Google Glass right after the theater lights dim.

According to the MPAA, any individual who refuses or fails to put any of these banned devices away may be asked to leave. Managers of the theaters are expected to be on the lookout for any indication that a patron is illegally recording during a movie showing. If they notice the illegal activity, they are to contact local police, and determine if any further action against the offending party should be taken.

The updated police from the MPAA banning digital wearables looks to stem from an incident that occurred in an AMC theater in Ohio. During a January showing of a film, Homeland Security pulled an individual from the theater for wearing a prescription Google Glass. In another theater setting, Tim League, the CEO of Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, said that they banned the wearable from Google this summer after the lights in the theater are dimmed. League insisted it is not due to a dislike for the device, but purely over piracy concerns.

By Carl Auer

PC Magazine
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Photo by Ted Eytan – Flickr License