updated 09:57 pm EST, Tue January 21, 2014
Questioning of man lasted for over three hours, no pirated content found
Over the weekend, a viewer of the new movie Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was removed from the showing, reportedly roughly, by Federal officials accusing him of pirating the movie by recording it through his Google Glass device. Since initial reports, the story has been confirmed by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as the AMC movie chain.
The man wearing the device in the theater claims that the ICE official who removed him during the film roughly yanked his prescription Google Glass off his face, with five to 10 security guards waiting outside the theater for him. He reported to The Gadgeteer that "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."
Additionally, the wearer added that "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, [and] 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." The interview continued for nearly three hours, before an agent with a laptop and a USB cord arrived to investigate the Google Glass memory for a recording of the movie, and none was found.
AMC public relations director Ryan Noonan told The Verge that "movie theft is something we take very seriously, and our theater managers contact the Motion Picture Association of America any time it's suspected that someone may be illegally recording content on screen. While we're huge fans of technology and innovation, wearing a device that has the capability to record video is not appropriate at the movie theatre."
Noonan detailed the incident, saying that at the AMC Easton 30 last weekend, "a guest was questioned for possible movie theft after he was identified wearing a recording device during a film. The presence of this recording device prompted an investigation by the MPAA, which was on site. The MPAA then contacted Homeland Security, which oversees movie theft. The investigation determined the guest was not recording content." AMC offered the man four passes to view the movie again, and apologized for the incident.
ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said that "on January 18, special agents with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations and local authorities briefly interviewed a man suspected of using an electronic recording device to record a film at an AMC theater in Columbus. The man, who voluntarily answered questions, confirmed to authorities that the suspected recording device was also a pair of prescription eyeglasses in which the recording function had been inactive. No further action was taken."
The MPAA has weighed in on the issue, taking a pro-Google Glass stance. It said that "Google Glass is an incredible innovation in the mobile sphere, and we have seen no proof that it is currently a significant threat that could result in content theft. The MPAA works closely with theaters all over the country to curb camcording and theater-originated piracy, and in this particular case, no such activity was discovered."
As it stands, the Google Glass peripheral is incapable, either optically or in software, of recording a feature film without modification, and the results would likely be unwatchable because of the poor-quality video. Additionally, users of the device report that the device heats up to uncomfortable levels while using it to record even a short clip.