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Google Glass Banned from Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater Chain

Jun 11 2014, 9:30am CDT | by

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Google Glass Banned from Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater Chain

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Google Glass Banned from Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater Chain

The Alamo Drafthouse chain of movie theaters has become the latest business to ban the use of Google Glass, in an effort to combat movie piracy.

Founder Tim League announced the policy on Twitter. “Google Glass is officially banned from @drafthouse auditoriums once lights dim for trailers,” he said . “Policy only about piracy concerns. But on a personal level, I advocate turning off distractions during a movie.”

League later clarified that he has no problem with moviegoers using their devices in the lobby and before the movie starts, and pointed out that video cameras have always been banned. But, he noted on Twitter, “In the partially obscured eyes of GoogleGlass early adopters, I seem to be the most hated man in America.”

Earlier this year, an Ohio man was hauled out of an AMC movie theater by the Department of Homeland Security and questioned over suspicions of piracy, being released partly because the device in question had prescription lenses.

The MPAA appears to be a little confused about whether or not it wants Google Glass banned from movie theaters. In its Movie Theft Best Practices document, released last year, it says: “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).”

However, after the Ohio scandal, it released a statement saying “Google Glass is an incredible innovation in the mobile sphere, and we have seen no proof that it is currently a significant threat that could result in content theft.”

It’s certainly hard to see how Google Glass could be used to pirate a full-length movie, given that it has a battery life of less than an hour when filming – and if you’re bringing an extra battery pack, you might as well bring a proper video camera. Also, any movie bootlegged in this way is also likely to be pretty shaky, compared with one filmed on a static device.

And this sort of bootlegging is on its way out. Figures are hard to come by, but the vast majority of pirated movies come courtesy of leaks from studios or distributors, rather than from individual filming in movie theaters, coughing viewers, bobbing heads and all.

In the US at least, bootleggers are practically giving their movies away, charging just a dollar or two – a tenth of what they cost in the 1990s. Even in China, a notorious market, the vast majority of pirated movies come via streaming sites such as and

Teague clearly doesn’t want to be too draconian about the ban, tweeting: “It will be case by case, but if it is clear when they are on, clear when they are off, will likely be OK”. Despite his claim that it’s all about piracy, it seems likely that the ban has more to do with deflecting irritation from other customers than any fear for his profits.


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