Beware: Your Google Glass, GoPro or other wearable camera could get you kicked out of the theater - or worse, arrested.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the National Association of Theater Owners are cracking down on wearable recording devices like Google Glass. In a joint statement, the two organizations announced a zero-tolerance policy for recording devices. You can wear them, but they must be shown to be powered off at showtime.
You might not even get a polite warning. When any recording of the film whatsoever is suspected, theater employees have been instructed to call the police immediately. Federal law imposes a strict three-year maximum sentence for recording in a movie theater, and 41 U.S. states also have separate laws prohibiting it.
Though the law never explicitly names Google Glass, it's clear that the face computer is one of the main objects of scrutiny. Handheld video cameras and even cellphone cameras are more commonly used for piracy, but also easier for theater employees to spot. It can be very hard to determine whether Google Glass is on or off at any given moment - now it's explicitly banned.
The MPAA released a handbook for combating piracy last year. It's called "Best Practices to Prevent Film Theft," and it includes a section encouraging theaters to randomly search patrons' bags and jackets. This crackdown is almost enough to make you want to stay home, but theaters are caught between a rock and a hard place.
Piracy really is driving moviegoers to skip the theater and just watch for free (illegally) online. In order to stop it, theaters have decided to go after the pirates themselves - and that could mean inconveniencing ordinary, law-abiding citizens, including people wearing Glass and other gadgets.
I've always been staunchly anti-piracy, especially when there are so many great, legal and free options for watching movies on the Internet. Click here to see my top seven sites for free online movies. But I also love going to the theater. It feels like a special treat compared to binge-watching a new show on Netflix. I don't think it's too big a price to pay to simply turn off your phone (or your Google Glass) and enjoy the movie. One theater chain is even offering you free tickets and snacks as a reward for doing just that!
What do you think? Are theaters going overboard with this crackdown? Let me know in the comments below.