Movie Chain Bans Google Glass Over Piracy Fears

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The Alamo Drafthouse movie theater chain has banned Google Glass on fears they could be used for piracy. The company's CEO says a ban has been under consideration for some time, but now that the devices are being brought into their premises, the time is now right to permanently ban their active use in screenings.

Ever since the concept became public there have been fears over potential misuse of Google Glass. The advent of the wearable computer has sparked privacy fears and perhaps unsurprisingly, concerns that it could be used for piracy.

Just this January the FBI dragged a man from a movie theater in Columbus, Ohio, after theater staff presumed his wearing of Google Glass was a sign that he was engaged in camcorder piracy.

While it’s possible the device could be put to that use, it’s now less likely that patrons of the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater chain will be able to do so without being noticed. Speaking with Deadline, company CEO and founder Tim League says the time is now right to exclude the active use of Glass completely.

“We’ve been talking about this potential ban for over a year,” League said.

“Google Glass did some early demos here in Austin and I tried them out personally. At that time, I recognized the potential piracy problem that they present for cinemas. I decided to put off a decision until we started seeing them in the theater, and that started happening this month.”

According to League, people won’t be forbidden from bringing Google Glass onto the company’s premises, nor will they be banned from wearing the devices. Only when the devices are switched on will there be a problem.

“Google Glass is officially banned from drafthouse auditoriums once lights dim for trailers,” League explained yesterday.

Asked whether people could use them with corrective lenses, League said that discretion would be used.

“It will be case by case, but if it is clear when they are on, clear when they are off, will likely be OK,” he said.

But despite the theater chain’s apparent flexibility towards the non-active use of the device, the ban does seem to go further than the official stance taken by the MPAA following the earlier Ohio incident.

“Google Glass is an incredible innovation in the mobile sphere, and we have seen no proof that it is currently a significant threat that could result in content theft,” the MPAA said in a statement.

However, recording a movie in a theater remains a criminal offense in the United States, so the decision as to whether a crime has been committed will be the decision of law enforcement officers called to any ‘camming’ incident. Given then the MPAA’s statement, it will be interesting to see if the studios will encourage the police to pursue cases against future Google Glass users.

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