MPAA and ICE admit they yanked an innocent man out of a movie for wearing Google Glass


That’s the point of modern copyright law, right? To enshrine in law the profits of these cartel members? They didn’t spend all of that time and money writing laws and bribing Congress to allow their business model to be disrupted by some new technology.

In a sane world, Copyright Infringement is a civil matter, not a criminal one.


The MPAA’s problem with camcordering is piracy, not interference with staggered release times. Sharing or selling pirated films is a violation of property rights and leads to lost revenue regardless of when the film is released in what format. This is true even if the pirate only watches the film himself and doesn’t share or sell it to anyone else. Unauthorized duplication ought to be legally prohibited. This isn’t to say that MPAA goons should be able to phone up any old federal agency (ICE?? REALLY?) to investigate their complaints, but in principle there’s nothing wrong with law enforcement getting involved.


While the involvement of ICE is a bit bizarre, legally speaking most of this is par the course.

Most theatres state up front that you cannot bring cameras inside - if you are found to have a camera, you may be asked to leave.

Additionally, the illegal recording of a film is technically a felony, and in pretty much every jurisdiction if a Law Enforcement Officer (and in many places even just an ordinary citizen) has - EDIT probable cause /EDIT - that a felony is being commited or is about to take place, they are empowered to make an arrest. Thus, given that the man was wearing an identifiable recording device into a movie theatre, his detention and questioning are at least legally defensible.

Personal disclosure: I do not support the MPAA, I am an advocate of free culture and media, and I personally feel that the laws as they stand are unjust - a felony is an absurdly harsh punishment completely out of proportion with the alleged “crime”. It might have been somewhat more defensible twenty or thirty years ago, when bootleg video tapes were a thriving business, but modern “piracy” doesn’t exist for the purpose of profit.


Debatable, at best. A person who watches a movie for free is not necessarily a person who would pay for that movie, or even if he would pay for the movie, he’s not necessarily a person who would pay the MPAA member’s asking price for that movie.

Sure. But the penalty for unauthorized duplication of a movie should be in line with the price of a movie ticket, not the price of a house–and it shouldn’t include detention by any police force, much less by federal immigration cops.


I’m inclined to agree. While I would really like to know the exact chain of events that got ICE involved, in principle I agree that recording a movie while in the theater is and ought to be prohibited.

I wouldn’t bet on it. They obviously don’t like piracy; but a cammed copy is about the lowest form of pirate copy in existence (doubly so for something cammed with a cellphone-quality camera strapped to somebody’s head, not a recipe for good results). The second even DVD rips are available, the demand for cammed versions plummets more or less to zero, even for free.

In the absence of release-staggering, I’m sure that they’d retain a nominal anti-recording stance; but the tastes of the pirate market would drive cammed versions out of existence so fast that it would be wholly irrelevant. Only a period when DVD rips or better aren’t available makes in-theater recording so much as worth the trouble, much less worth incurring any cost or legal risk.

(Incidentally, not that cammed videos are ‘fair use’ or its equivalent in other jurisdictions; but do you actually mean “Unauthorized duplication ought to be legally prohibited” in the literal there-are-no-exceptions-of-any-kind-or-for-any-purpose-copyright-is-veto-power sense? That’s a pretty daringly maximalist stance…)


The problem is the laws were created back when the only people who recorded films were professional crooks who wanted to sell bootleg video tapes and make a small fortune doing so.

Back then the penalties made some amount of sense - you might rethink your “career” choice of selling bootleg tapes if faced with a massive fine and incarceration. But modern day “pirates” aren’t out to make money - they’re just film enthusiasts.


The surprising bit to me is how the MPAA and movie theaters have organized well enough to have this kind of response prepared. Within an hour of the movie starting, they were able to identify someone with a random piece of tech, decide they didn’t like it, send the call up the chain, and mobilize law enforcement to pull the guy out of his seat?

The whole incident is a ridiculous outrage, but that kind of efficiency is a bit scary.


We should really ban libraries too, while we are defending copyright.


Recording a movie is already a criminal act, so law enforcement getting involved makes sense. Having ICE at the immediate beck and call of a theatre owner makes me pretty sure that the Homeland Security budget could take some significant cuts.

But even if wearing Google glass in a theatre is considered probable cause (which seems reasonable) 3 hours of detention and questioning is ridiculous. It is unfortunate that the victim of this abuse wasn’t more knowledgeable about his rights. He says he was told that he was not under arrest, but that cooperating by answering questions would “make things easier on him”

ANY time a police office tells you that you are NOT under arrest, but that cooperating (thought answering more questions, allowing them to search without a warrant, etc.) will “make things go easier for you” he is LYING. It is time to shut up and refuse further cooperation without your lawyer present. ONLY A district attorney decides what, if any crimes you will be charged with and he’s not there.


People who have Google Glass right now are pretty much by definition going to have both money (I think it’s $1500 for what is basically a beta test) and influence (you only get picked if you have people who listen to you). So good plan MPAA. Way to go after the type of person most likely to fight it in court.


If someone steals your bike the police probably will shrug their shoulders so make sure you tell them the thief was bootlegging movies to get a serious response from law enforcement.


Don’t be silly. Libraries aren’t legally entitled to duplicate the media that they own, just lend it to others. There’s a difference between the right of distribution (which libraries have in accordance with the doctrine of first-sale) and the right of reproduction (which they do not have).

EDIT: (I’m a new user, so I can’t reply to posts below). I don’t think of these issues primarily as a matter of legality but rather morality. The main moral issue isn’t foregone revenue but rather the violation of a producer’s right to their creation. It would still be morally wrong (not just legally forbidden) for someone to use a camcorder to record a copy of a film even if that film would never be shown or sold for a profit.

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Ok, this officially marks the first time I’ve ever felt sympathy for a google glass user. And only because the theatre felt the need to bring in the cops and ICE - just throwing him out would have been fine.


Recording a movie is a criminal act. Whether it should be a criminal offense or merely a civil one, my only claim has been that it should be legally prohibited. But even in the case of civil offenses, the involvement of law enforcement is in principle reasonable and proper (if only to document evidence that a violation has occurred). That’s not to say that in this instance the actions of law enforcement were either reasonable or proper. It appears to have been an excessive use of power (and possibly a breach of jurisdiction, since ICE has no stake in the matter) especially since anyone in the audience with a smartphone (everyone) had the same capability to record as the Google Glass patron.

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Securing “cooperation” for a “voluntary interview” by indefinite extension of an unlawful detention?

Sounds like the current thuggish model of Law Enforcement 101 to me, not something unique to copyright enforcement.


In this post-legal era we are living in, I am constantly amazed at what sticklers people are for enforcement of petty, ridiculous laws. But laundering hundreds of billions for drug cartels is not. Destroying the world economy with massive frauds is not.

Lets stop pretending that the law is fair, the law is just, the law is anything but a thug with a club ready to beat the shit out of you for any minor infraction… as long as you aren’t very rich and working for a corporation.

We’re not lawyers, though apparently many of us love to play one on the internet. So how about we stop worrying about what’s “legal” and start worrying about what’s ethical, what’s moral, acts that REALLY harm people versus ones that don’t.


Does Google have some kind of guerrilla marketing plan to have Glass users get themselves arrested and then let off?
Like they’ve thought of all the situations where people would disapprove of you using it, but it’s not strictly illegal to do so, and need to reassure their target market that it’s ok to be passive-aggressive in the name of conspicuous consumption?


Hey, the movie industry spent a LOT to get the ICE’s boss elected. You think that was due to patriotism??