Books written by Ray Sullivan

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Google Glass in Piracy Allegation

In my local cinema there are repeating images promoting the cinema chain, its products and services while you wait for the commercials, previews, trailers and film to start.  Of course, most people don't get to see the repeating images because they're too busy paying for over-sized and over-priced snacks while these are on, but a few of us do get to see these nuggets of information.  One that makes me smile is the one that warns against piracy, the act of filming the film in the cinema during its performance.  In an attempt to strike fear into the heart of anyone inclined to set up a tripod in a busy cinema - and I know some people have filmed in these places, producing poor quality films including the tops of other patrons' heads, candy wrapper rustles and the odd sneeze into the bargain - a warning is flashed up on the screen. 'We use night vision technology in this cinema'. So that'll be a torch then, same as they've used since the Nineteen Forties, when they used to sell snacks in normal sizes at reasonable prices.  Or maybe the tee-shirted minimum wage slaves are force-fed carrots.  I've yet to see anyone entering the auditorium with night vision goggles yet, so I'm kind of discounting that thought.

But piracy is an issue for the industry, although I'm not sure cinema recorded items are a major cost issue.  Review DVDs and Blue-Ray's sent to individuals and organisations pre-release so that the word can be spread about the new big film probably account for a lot of illegitimate recordings, and of course once a film is released anywhere in the world on such media for general consumption there will be illegal copies being sold. Personally I wouldn't tolerate someone filming in a cinema I've paid to see a film, having to avoid tripping over tripods, putting up with the noise of the motors, being told to shush when I'm opening my foil wrapped sandwiches...

It has been reported today that a man in Ohio was intercepted by FBI agents when he left a cinema there because he'd been watching the film wearing prescription Google Glass. That probably sounds way more dramatic than it actually was, they probably just approached him and asked him to join them somewhere private for a chat, but the film theme just makes intercept seem more appropriate. It turns out that he was able to prove he hadn't recorded the screening - I don't know if they looked in his cloud, but we expect a lot from the FBI so I guess they did - and he'd been wearing the Glass for the simple reason that they are prescription and he needs them to see.  Additionally he claimed he'd been to see two other films previously while wearing Google Glass and there hadn't been any problem.  I'm not sure that is actually a defence, if he'd claimed during a robbery that he'd carried out two and the FBI hadn't visited him, that wouldn't make it right.  Perhaps it was just a confession?

I think that Google Glass and other wearable tech is going to face a lot of this resistance in the coming months. It's not the act, it's the potential.  I'm not too concerned about cinema piracy as long as they don't get in my way, make a noise and arrive early enough - what is it with these people arriving after the trailers have started, can't they get up in the morning?  It's the covert nature of the Glass that people will fear, the filming on the street and at school yards, the act of being observed, potentially, even more than we are now.  Glass would appear to be a stalker's dream, a perverts eyewear of choice and that will permeate into the consciousness of those who want to use them for legitimate purposes to the point that people may stop wearing them for fear of being accused of using them for nefarious reasons.

It's also possible that legislation might start cropping up.  Perhaps wearable recording tech will be required to have an externally visible recording light to indicate to observers that the wearer is in the act of recording.  It isn't unreasonable, while you can covertly record with your phone and other similar devices, to do so in a way that allows you to guarantee that you have captured what you want tends to be quite obvious, whereas with devices like Google Glass there is no doubt for the wearer - he or she is capturing exactly what they want to record.

And cinemas will probably just put a blanket ban on Google Glass, so don't throw away your old prescription glasses when you buy your Google Glass - I don't really expect anyone would be so rash as to assume the tech glasses could be as robust as normal prescription glasses anyway.  Of course there's nothing to stop someone hell bent on recording a film through them from putting them on once in the cinema, once the trailers start.  That's where the night vision technology comes in - just don't forget to pack spare batteries and a bulb.
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