Money & Business

U.K. Movie Theaters Throw Shade on Google Glass

By / Jul 1, 2014 (photo by Jeff Blackler/Flickr)

In a preemptive move meant to stop piracy in its tracks before the technology takes off, the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association has decided to ban Google Glass from theaters in the U.K.—just a week after Google introduced the augmented reality glasses to the British market for the first time.

Sorry, Google Glass users across the pond: You’ll have to turn off your head computers before you step into the theater.

That’s the decision of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, an industry group that represents the film industry in the United Kingdom. The association acted only days after Google put the devices on sale in the country—at a price of £1,000 each.

The main concern is theft, which movie theaters have struggled to stop in the age of pirated movies. Camera-based recordings of films are relatively common: One estimate found that 90 percent of illegally copied films show up online that way.

“Customers will be requested not to wear [Google Glass] into cinema auditoriums, whether the film is playing or not,” CEA chief executive Phil Clapp told The Independent.

Is America Next?

The association’s American counterpart, the National Association of Theatre Owners, has hinted that its approach would be similar in the U.S., but it has not yet created a formal policy on the matter.

Speaking to Fast Company last year, NATO’s vice president and chief communications officer, Patrick Corcoran, suggested the association would likely work with its members—including large theater chains like Landmark and Regal—to develop policies preventing the use of the devices in theaters. The rules could allow movie-goers to check their devices at a customer service counter.

“It’s one of the things we’ve really just started thinking about,” Corcoran told the magazine. “We’re going to have to work with our member companies to develop training programs for how to deal with it.”

One U.S. chain, Alamo Drafthouse, has already enacted such a ban, though cases of Glass-wearing have remained relatively rare. One exception involved an Ohio man who was questioned by the Department of Homeland Security after he wore the device into a movie theater, though he says he took it off after walking in.

“We did have an incident where someone did have them on, and it took a little time to sort out what was going on, whether he was recording or not,” Corcoran told Mashable.

Considering the Threat

How big a piracy threat is Glass, really? Currently, it’s small: The device’s battery tends to drain quickly, only realistically allowing for 30 minutes of recording time, far shorter than the length of the average film. Also, the device lights up when recording, making it difficult to hide.

But considering how fast technology moves, newer versions of the devices could easily prove more troublesome.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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