UK Cinema Trade Group Bans Google Glass

A trade group that represents over 90 percent of Britain’s cinemas has said it will ask patrons not to wear Google’s Glass smart spectacles into auditoriums, citing concerns over illegal recording.

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association (CEA), which represents small, independent cinemas as well as chains such as Odeon, Cineworld, Vue, Showcase and Empire Cinemas, said in a statement that customers would be “requested not to wear these into cinema auditoriums, whether the film is playing or not”.

Preventing ‘film theft’

Glass launched in the UK last month in the form of a prototype form that costs £1,000. In May Google officially brought the device out of beta-test mode in the US, selling it there for $1,500.

The trade organisation said cinema may display a message asking audience members not to enter the cinema auditorium with any “‘wearable technology’ capable of recording images” in order to help “prevent film theft”.

“Any customer found wearing such technology will be asked to remove it and may be asked to leave the cinema,” the message continues.

Vue has said separately that it will ask users to remove the glasses “as soon as the lights dim”.

Recording in cinemas is said to be the source of more than 90 percent of illegal copying of films in their release form.

Google responded in a statement that cinemas would be better off simply asking wearers “to turn it off before the film starts”, and criticised the CEA for creating its policy without having had “direct and first-hand experience with Glass”.

Google chiding the trade group for not taking into account “the fact that Glass is worn above the eyes and the screen lights up whenever it’s activated”, which makes it “a fairly lousy device for recording things secretly”. The company has laid out ground rules for Glass etiquette.

Glass policies

For their part, some cinemas have said they are unable to monitor whether the device is recording or not, something which has already reportedly led to a Glass early adopter being asked to remove the headset in a Leicester Square cinema.

Glass can only record about 45 minutes of continuous video before powering down, but several recordings could, of course, be spliced together to make a feature-length video, industry observers have pointed out.

Other venues have said they are still evaluating Glass policies, with the Really Useful Group, which operates six theatres in London, saying it plans to “evaluate the implications” and the Transport Department saying it is working with Google on making the device road-legal – which, at the moment, it is not.

Hospitals are expected to ask visitors to remove the devices due to privacy issues, while the Virgin Active gym chain said users will be forbidden to use Glass to capture images.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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