Monday, August 20, 2007

Going to the movies is getting scarier.

Flash! MPAA has abhorrent business practices and treats its customers like thieves!!!1!

In an effort to stop copies of their movies from showing up on these interwebs, they have hired a private security force to go into theaters and randomly video-tape patrons watching the movie*. I know, I know. This is really old news, and anyone who is even slightly paying attention would know that the MPAA has lost touch with reality long ago... but still! How this stops piracy, know one is really sure. After implementing this 'security procedure' there were still many copies of available the weekend it came out in theaters.

Perhaps they're thinking recording people will act as a deterrent? Of course, this would only work if the MPAA could afford to put a security agent in every theater during every showing of every movie everywhere in the world. That might curb or stop recording by audience members, but what about corrupt movie chains that transfer films directly to video themselves (this happens all the time in Russia). And even if they could put these video-taping, cold-war era spooks in every theater in the world, then, it would figure that the ill-will generated by movie goers who have paid $12 to be treated as de facto criminals would do more harm to sales than good. I'm not particularly fond of paying for the privilege of having some huge corporation treat me like a criminal.

In another case, a 19-year-old girl was arrested on charges of piracy for recording a 20 second clip of Transformers in a Regal Movies theater*. She was recording the clip on her cell phone to show her brother some of the special effects in the hopes of convincing him to see the movie. How good the movie is, whether her brother is name 'Hank,' and whether she's even breaking a law (20 seconds recorded for personal use could qualify as fair use... or not. Ask a judge.) are all up for debate. The only thing I can think will come from slapping a 19 year old with a $2,500 fine for recording 20 seconds of a movie for the purposes of convincing someone to spend money to see it will create is more ill-will--both on the part of the girl's circle of influence and within the film community at large.

What is wrong with these people? It's clear that they are trying to fail as a business. As a publicly held corporation, isn't it illegal to take steps that purposely cause your business to fail? The shareholders of Regal Cinemas should be punching teeth out left and right.

*MPAA Taping Audiences via
*19-year-old-girl on charges of piracy via Freeculture @ NYU


Anonymous said...


Jessica said...

Here's another one for you...

A local theater here was showing a sneak preview of a new movie to come out the following weekend. My friend who attended said that it took almost a half hour to get into the movie. This was because they had everyone lined up so that they could rummage through their purses and pat everyone down for recording devices!

Matt said...

Yeah. At several sneak peaks we've been to, they have a policy where they can search you for anything. You can chose to not go into the theater, but you can't refuse to be searched. Nutsy.