The Motion Picture Association of America is implementing new guidelines for movie theaters, including night-vision surveillance, cell-phone confiscation and police involvement at the slightest suspicion of a recording device.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has updated its guidelines for movie theaters with advice on how to catch patrons recording their movies. They are also providing a $500 reward for any employee who catches someone recording video at a movie screening. That seems like a sensible approach to increasing vigilance among the staff, but unfortunately, the MPAA doesn’t do sensible:
Some pre-release screenings are now being recommended by the MPAA to employ staff with night vision goggles to observe movie goers: “If your theater maintains night vision devices or low light binoculars, please employ these during the screening in the darkened auditorium,” MPAA writes. Sometimes, staff should also confiscated all cameras and cell phones prior to the movie to ensure nobody records anything. “The MPAA recommends that theaters adopt a Zero Tolerance policy that prohibits the video or audio recording and the taking of photographs of any portion of a movie.”
The MPAA’s guidelines don’t stop there. They now also recommend that theater owners call the police, not when they’ve caught someone, but even before that, when they suspect someone might be filming something: “Theater managers should immediately alert law enforcement authorities whenever they suspect prohibited activity is taking place. Do not assume that a cell phone or digital camera is being used to take still photographs and not a full-length video recording. Let the proper authorities determine what laws may have been violated and what enforcement action should be taken.”
The association also warns that people intending to record movies may be sneaky in their approach: “Movie thieves are very ingenious when it comes to concealing cameras. It may be as simple as placing a coat or hat over the camera, or as innovative as a specially designed concealment device (e.g., a small camera built into eyeglass frames or a camera built into the lid of a beverage container).” In other words, don’t be surprised if an usher approaches and asks you to lift your hat or take a closer look at your glasses.
“The pirates… must be… eliminated.”
So, if you’re heading to the cinema and find yourself being frisked and your belongings confiscated before sitting in a room where people watch you in the dark, you can thank the good people at the MPAA.