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15 Nov, 2013 03:49

MPAA recommends cracking down on camera-phones, using night-vision goggles to prevent movie piracy

MPAA recommends cracking down on camera-phones, using night-vision goggles to prevent movie piracy

In its latest attempt to crack down on piracy, the Motion Picture Association of America is pressuring movie theaters to adopt a ban on mobile phones with cameras and certain kinds of eyeglasses.

The entertainment lobby group, which is headquartered in Washington DC and has imposed expensive lawsuits on internet users caught illegally downloading movies, is attempting to install such measures to combat the bootleg movie industry. Most major Hollywood movies are available for free online quickly after their theatrical release because customers record the film on a personal camcorder and then post the file, known as a CAM, online. 

US theater employees can already be seen wearing night-vision goggles to monitor audiences during highly awaited movie premiers or at pre-screenings. The MPAA’s latest recommendation comes as an update to its “Best Practices to Prevent Film Theft” leaflet that is distributed to theaters. 

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),” says the MPAA. 

Other strategies include rewarding theater employees who catch bootleggers with a $500 bonus, as well as examining cup holders for concealed recording devices. 

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 stated, as quoted by TorrentFreak. 

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,” the recommendation continued. “Let the proper authorities determine what laws may have been violated and what enforcement action should be taken.” 

Illegally recording movies with a handheld camera is a phenomenon that began when personal camcorders first rose to prominence. Yet the MPAA’s position has somehow become so precarious that it recommends theater management be more careful in choosing employees, or even consider enlisting a third party security firm to supervise. 

Does one member of your staff frequently have ‘friends’ joining him at the theater at odd times? Look for non-employees coming or going out of the projectionist’s booth or those arriving at odd hours claiming to be ‘friends’ of an employee or manager,” the MPAA wrote. “If your theater maintains night vision devices or low light binoculars, please employ these during the screening in the darkened auditorium.” 

News of the update comes after a study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center determined that gun violence in popular movies rated PG-13 has tripled since 1985. The shooting and gore, researchers found, rivals that of R-rated movies, setting off a firestorm of claims that the ratings board needlessly censors sexuality while loosening standards on violence. An MPAA representative said the lobby group “tries to get it right” and that PG-13 “is not a namby-pamby rating.”