Both AMC Theatres and The Motion Picture Association of America — Hollywood’s lobbying group — have confirmed they called in Homeland Security to interrogate a man for over an hour simply because he wore Google Glass to watch a movie.
Neither, however, has apologized for its ridiculous over-reaction, or the distress it caused the man and his wife, who turned out to be completely innocent of any crime.
The incident has also — bizarrely — managed to tarnish the name of the late, great Bob Hope.
The movie-goer — whose identity we still don’t know — wore the smart glasses because they have prescription lenses and he has bad eyesight. He had visited the cinema, the AMC Easton 30 in Columbus, Ohio, several times before and chatted with staff there about the spectacles.
Both AMC and the MPAA issued statements indicating that “the investigation determined the guest was not recording content” and “no such activity was discovered,” respectively. Yet neither organisation has bothered to officially say “sorry” for assaulting the man (his glasses were ripped from his face), for detaining him, for searching through his personal photos, and for falsely accusing him of being part of a network of movie pirate thieves.
Obviously, theatres need to prevent people from recording their copyrighted content. But it’s easy to see whether Google Glass is recording or not, especially in the dark of a movie theatre: There is a small internal light on the device that goes on when the user is recording. If the feds and the MPAA are going to bust people for using Google Glass, they should at least learn how the device works.
Rather than looking for that light, the MPAA and its federal goons subjected the man to an interrogation that sounds like it was scripted from an old Bob Hope movie (one of the ones like “Alias Jesse James,” in which the late comedian is mistaken for a bad guy with hilarious consequences): “Why don’t I just give up the guy up the chain, ’cause they are not interested in me. … who is my boss and why am I recording the movie?” the man said he was asked.
This is where the story takes a turn that would be unrealistic if it were a comedy: the MPAA executive in charge of this failed investigation is actually named “Bob Hope.” And he’s the great-nephew of the actual Bob Hope. He has previously told TribToday.com that he goes by his more famous relative’s name because the comedian was born “Leslie Towns Hope,” and only used “Bob” as a stage name. (That doesn’t quite explain why the MPAA’s Hope doesn’t go by “Robert” or “Rob.”)
Then there is the question of your tax dollars at work. Apparently, the MPAA has Homeland Security at its beck and call, in Columbus, Ohio. You’d think they have bigger fish to fry. Are the local police really incapable of briefly detaining a man to check whether he’s carrying pirated content? (Answer: no, as this case indicates.)
Lastly, would it have been too much trouble for AMC to put a sign at the box office asking people not to wear Google Glass in the theatre, for the obvious reason that the devices can actually record movies? Then the man, AMC, the MPAA, the feds, the taxpayers and the reputation of the Bob Hope family would have been spared a lot of wasted time and money.
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