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<nettime> Harassing People for Watching a Movie in a Cinema
Felix Stalder on Wed, 22 Jan 2014 13:12:53 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Harassing People for Watching a Movie in a Cinema

I remember, a couple of years ago, Sebastian Luetgert speaking about the
real frontier of copyright wars being personal memory. That if you
really want to enforce copyright, you have to force people to forget, to
erase from memory, say, films immediately after watching them.

At the time, it struck me as a bit overblown, until this.


PS: and just imagine, implants :)


    I have been using Google Glass for about 2 months now, and about 2
weeks ago I got prescription lenses for the glasses. So in the past two
weeks I was wearing Google Glass all the time. There were no stories to
write about, until yesterday (1/18/2014).

    I went to AMC (Easton Mall, Columbus, OH) to watch a movie with my
wife (non- Google Glass user). It is the theater we go to every week, so
it has probably been the third time I’ve been there wearing Google
Glass, and the AMC employees (guy tearing tickets at the entrance, girl
at the concession stand) have asked me about Glass in the past and I
have told them how awesome Glass is with every occasion.

    Because I don’t want Glass to distract me during the movie, I turn
them off (but since my prescription lenses are on the frame, I still
wear them). About an hour into the movie (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), a
guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of a shield on
it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says “follow me outside
immediately”. It was quite embarrassing and outside of the theater there
were about 5-10 cops and mall cops. Since I didn’t catch his name in the
dark of the theater, I asked to see his badge again and I asked what was
the problem and I asked for my Glass back. The response was “you see all
these cops you know we are legit, we are with the ‘federal service’ and
you have been caught illegally taping the movie”.

    I was surprised by this and as I was obviously just having a nice
Saturday evening night out with my wife and not taping anything whether
legally or illegally, I tried to explain that this is a
misunderstanding. I tried to explain that he’s holding rather expensive
hardware that costed me $1500 for Google Glass and over $600 for the
prescription glasses. The response was that I was searched and more
stuff was taken away from me (specifically my personal phone, my work
phone – both of which were turned off, and my wallet). After an
embarrassing 20-30 minutes outside the movie theater, me and my wife
were conducted into two separate rooms in the “management” office of
Easton Mall, where the guy with the badge introduced himself again and
showed me a different ID. His partner introduced herself too and showed
me a similar looking badge. I was by that time, too flustered to
remember their names (as a matter of fact, now, over 30 hours later I am
still shaking when recounting the facts).

    What followed was over an hour of the “feds” telling me I am not
under arrest, and that this is a “voluntary interview”, but if I choose
not to cooperate bad things may happen to me (is it legal for
authorities to threaten people like that?). I kept telling them that
Glass has a USB port and not only did I allow them, I actually insist
they connect to it and see that there was nothing but personal photos
with my wife and my dog on it. I also insisted they look at my phone too
and clear things out, but they wanted to talk first. They wanted to know
who I am, where I live, where I work, how much I’m making, how many
computers I have at home, why am I recording the movie, who am I going
to give the recording to, why don’t I just give up the guy up the chain,
’cause they are not interested in me. Over and over and over again.

    I kept telling them that I wasn’t recording anything – my Glass was
off, they insisted they saw it on. I told them there would be a light
coming out the little screen if Glass was on, and I could show them
that, but they insisted that I cannot touch my Glass for the fear “I
will erase the evidence against me that was on Glass”. I didn’t have the
intuition to tell them that Glass gets really warm if it records for
more than a few minutes and my glasses were not warm. They wanted to
know where I got Glass and how did I came by having it. I told them I
applied about 1000 times to get in the explorer program, and eventually
I was selected, and I got the Glass from Google. I offered to show them
receipt and Google Glass website if they would allow me to access any
computer with internet. Of course, that was not an option. Then they
wanted to know what does Google ask of me in exchange for Glass, how
much is Google paying me, who is my boss and why am I recording the movie.

    Eventually, after a long time somebody came with a laptop and an USB
cable at which point he told me it was my last chance to come clean. I
repeated for the hundredth time there is nothing to come clean about and
this is a big misunderstanding so the FBI guy finally connected my Glass
to the computer, downloaded all my personal photos and started going
though them one by one (although they are dated and it was obvious there
was nothing on my Glass that was from the time period they accused me of
recording). Then they went through my phone, and 5 minutes later they
concluded I had done nothing wrong.

    I asked why didn’t they just take those five minutes at the
beginning of the interrogation and they just left the room. A guy who
claimed his name is Bob Hope (he gave me his business card) came in the
room, and said he was with the Movie Association and they have problems
with piracy at that specific theater and that specific movie. He gave me
two free movie passes “so I can see the movie again”. I asked if they
thought my Google Glass was such a big piracy machine, why didn’t they
ask me not to wear them in the theater? I would have probably sat five
or six rows closer to the screen (as I didn’t have any other pair of
prescription glasses with me) and none of this would have happened. All
he said was AMC called him, and he called the FBI and “here are two more
passes for my troubles”. I would have been fine with “I’m sorry this
happened, please accept our apologies”. Four free passes just infuriated me.

    Considering it was 11:27pm when this happened, and the movie started
at 7.45, I guess 3 and a half hours of my time and the scare my wife
went through (who didn’t know what was going on as nobody bothered to
tell her) is worth about 30 bucks in the eyes of the Movie Association
and the federal militia (sorry, I cannot think of other derogatory
words). I think I should sue them for this, but I don’t have the time or
the energy to deal with “who is my boss – they don’t want me, they want
the big guy” again, so I just spilled the beans on this forum, for other
to learn from my experience.

    I guess until people get more familiar with Google Glass and
understand what they are, one should not wear them to the movies. I wish
they would have said something before I went to the movies, but it may
be my mistake for assuming that if I went and watched movies two times
wearing Glass with no incident the third time there won’t be any
incident either. As for the federal agents and their level of
comprehension… I guess if they deal with petty criminals every day,
everybody starts looking like a petty criminal. Again, I wish they would
have listened when I told them how to verify I did nothing illegal, or
at least apologize afterwards, but hey… this is the free country
everybody praises. Somewhere else might be even worse.


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