Please turn off your cell phones and Google Glass, and enjoy the film.
That’s the new rule at the Alamo Drafthouse theater chain, which has banned active Google Glass use during screenings over piracy concerns. Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League announced his company’s new policy in a tweet yesterday.
In another tweet, League clarified that it will “likely be OK” to wear Google Glass during a film if they device is clearly turned off. Patrons will likely need express permission from the theater to wear Glass during a film — and they’ll probably only get it if they legitimately need Glass to see.
It’s not easy to tell if someone is recording with the current version of Google Glass, which lacks a recording light. In a dark theater, however, it’s pretty apparent when a device is off or on based on the eye piece display (assuming theater staff and moviegoers are familiar with Glass).
League told Deadline he’d been mulling the ban for more than a year.
“Google Glass did some early demos here in Austin, and I tried them out personally,” said the theater executive. “At that time, I recognized the potential piracy problem that they present for cinemas. I decided to put off a decision until we started seeing them in the theater, and that started happening this month.”
The issue of Glass in theaters rose to prominence earlier this year after the FBI yanked a man with prescription Glass specs out of a Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit screening. Employees at the AMC theater in Columbus, Ohio alerted the Motion Picture Association of America — which passed the matter off to the FBI — after incorrectly determining he was recording the video with Glass.
After a few hours, the FBI decided he was innocent. He got a few free movie tickets for his troubles — but still, the incident prompted AMC to declare any video-capable device “not appropriate for the movie theater.”
Based in Texas, the Alamo Drafthouse theater chain has around two dozen locations around the country. It enforces a strict etiquette policy: It doesn’t allow talking or texting during its films and will actually boot out customers who don’t follow the rules.
Not everyone in the arts world is anti-Glass, however. New York company On Site Opera is experimenting with Google Glass as a part of its performances, offering translated supertitles to Glass wearers in the audience.