Man Wearing Google Glass Claims Movie Theater Called FBI To Arrest Him For Piracy

glassFBIbgUPDATE: A spokesman for AMC Theatres responded to Consumerist’s request for comment, saying the company takes movie theft “very seriously,” which is why the feds got involved.

An AMC rep tells Consumerist:

Movie theft is something we take very seriously, and our theater managers contact the Motion Picture Association of America anytime 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. At 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.

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If getting a ticket for wearing Google Glass will land you in the headlines for a good while, how about when the FBI comes to arrest you in a movie theater for the same device? Yup, headlines aplenty.

That’s the claim made over on Gadgeteer, where a reader’s story of not only getting booted from a movie for wearing Google Glass but encountering the FBI in the process is lighting up the Internet.

The author of the story says he’s been wearing Google Glass all the time since getting prescription lenses for the glasses. Over the weekend he went to a mall in Ohio to see Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and at first it was like every other time he’d gone to the movies with the Google Glass on.

“It is the theater we go to every week, so it has probably been the third time I’ve been there wearing Google Glass, and the AMC employees (guy tearing tickets at the entrance, girl at the concession stand) have asked me about Glass in the past and I have told them how awesome Glass is with every occasion,” he writes.

We know what you’re probably thinking — of course it might seem suspect that someone is wearing a device that has a camera in it at a movie theater. Piracy is a real thing, after all. But he says he always turns the device off, while keeping the actual glasses on because they have his prescription lenses in them.

The trouble started after half an hour, when he says a man approached his seat, showed a badge and pulled the Google Glass off his face. He was told to go outside with the man immediately.

“Since I didn’t catch his name in the dark of the theater, I asked to see his badge again and I asked what was the problem and I asked for my Glass back,” the wearer writes in his account of the apparent FBI agents. “The response was ‘you see all these cops you know we are legit, we are with the “federal service” and you have been caught illegally taping the movie.’ “

He claims he tried to explain the situation and that he wasn’t taping anything whatsoever, but says that instead he was searched and more of his property was taken away. He writes that he was then brought to a room for a “voluntary interview” but that he basically had to cooperate or “bad things” might happen to him.

“I kept telling them that Glass has a USB port and not only did I allow them, I actually insist they connect to it and see that there was nothing but personal photos with my wife and my dog on it,” he claims. “I also insisted they look at my phone too and clear things out, but they wanted to talk first. 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, 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.”

Despite his insistence that he wasn’t recording anything and that the Glass was off, he says they insisted it had been seen on. He writes that he tried to show them the light that comes on if the Glass is activated, but was told he couldn’t touch the device in case he tried to erase any evidence.

After a long time spent trying to explain things, he claims that someone finally came in with a USB cable and connected the Glass to the computer, downloaded everything from it and started going through the photos.

“Then they went through my phone, and 5 minutes later they concluded I had done nothing wrong,” he writes.

At the end of the ordeal, he asked the agents why they couldn’t have taken those five minutes at the beginning of the whole thing, but they just left the room. He adds that someone else (from the “Movie Association” which could perhaps be the Motion Picture Association of America) gave him two free movie passes to make up for the interrogation.

When he asked why he wasn’t told simply not to wear the Google Glass if they were worried about piracy and thus, avoid the rigmarole, he says the man told him he was called by AMC, he contacted the FBI and here are two more passes for the trouble.

“I would have been fine with ‘I’m sorry this happened, please accept our apologies,’ ” he writes. “Four free passes just infuriated me.”

After all of that, the man says he should probably sue someone over his experience, but that he doesn’t have the time or energy to deal with it all. Instead, he wrote up his account so that others learn from his experience.

“I guess until people get more familiar with Google Glass and understand what they are, one should not wear them to the movies,” he muses. “I wish they would have said something before I went to the movies, but it may be my mistake for assuming that if I went and watched movies two times wearing Glass with no incident the third time there won’t be any incident either.”

We reached out to AMC Theatres to see if there’s a comment on this report, and will let you know if we hear anything back.

AMC movie theater calls FBI to arrest a Google Glass user [Gadgeteer]

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  1. PhillyDom says:

    i know I’m supposed to be outraged at this, but I can’t be bothered. It’s just another Google Glasshole.

  2. SingleMaltGeek says:

    This is why, even if you have family in law enforcement and generally trust their motivations like I do, you should leave if you’re not under arrest, or ask for a lawyer and then clam up if you are.

  3. MrOldtimer says:

    Following the link it turns out that this story was from a friend of a friend. I do not believe it is true and nobody should. Can you imagine the FBI having nothing better to do than sent multiple agents to a possible piracy case?

  4. Snarkapus says:

    What a glasshole. He wears a video device in a known no-video zone and then has the audacity to complain about being questioned about that? Can I bring a bottle to the next AA meeting? A gun to Brady Bill bunch?

    Then again, he should have asserted his rights. “Am I under arrest? No? Then I’m free to go. I’m not free to go? I’m calling my lawyer.”

    What a maroon. No sympathy for him.

    • kjh says:

      Do you take a smartphone to the movie theater? Same thing, different container.

      I don’t see the point of Google Glass, but at least he turned it off while he was there (which is more than some folks do with their phones).

      I do agree that he should have lawyered up or left.