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MPAA says Google Glass is not a ‘significant threat,’ but helps detain a man for wearing it

We were beginning to think we’d heard all the crazy Google Glass stories there were, but things just escalated quickly. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents escorted out, then detained a man at an AMC movie theater in Columbus, Ohio because he wore Google Glass during a showing of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. The Gadgeteer originally reported the story, which is getting nuttier by the moment. Digital Trends has learned that the MPAA was already onsite at the movie theater and “referred the situation to the DHS.” Despite telling us they don’t see Google Glass as a “significant threat,” the MPAA assisted in detaining the wearer.

Updated by Jeffrey Van Camp at 3:50pm PT: The MPAA has requested that we alter the headline of this article to avoid implying that MPAA representatives detained the Glass wearer. But it did tell us that the “MPAA referred the situation to DHS,” or Department of Homeland Security.

The patron, who identifies himself as TU, was heading for a Saturday evening flick at the theater with his wife while wearing his Glass, which had special prescription lenses installed into them; without Glass, he could not see well. In a lengthy story published on The Gadgeteer, he described the incident, saying he was embarrassingly pulled out of the theater: “What followed was over an hour of the ‘feds’ telling me I am not under arrest, and that this is a ‘voluntary interview,’ but if I choose not to cooperate bad things may happen to me.”

TU claims he visited the theater several times before, talking to the concession stand and ticket collector about Google Glass, and showing it to them in a friendly way. This time though, a badge was shoved in his face by a federal agent, his Glass torn from his face, and was told to go outside immediately. TU notes his Glass was already off to prevent it from distracting him, but he wore it during the movie because it has his prescription lenses.

The MPAA may be running a some kind of movie security force.

After being taken from the theater, detained for three and a half hours, and questioned about his involvement in a movie-recording ring that the ICE agents were sure he was a part of, they looked inside his Glass and found (guess what!) nothing. After the whole ordeal, T.U. and his wife were released. 

But the story doesn’t end here. Before they left, a man by the name of “Bob Hope” from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) came to apologize and give TU and his wife two free movie passes for all the trouble. What’s interesting is that the MPAA was at that theater to keep an eye on possible illegal recording of movies. Some stories claim that the MPAA works with theaters to enforce and prevent these illegal recordings, much like some kind of movie security force.

When we reached out to the MPAA, this is the statement we were given:

“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. The MPAA works closely with theaters all over the country to curb camcording and theater-originated piracy, and in this particular case, no such activity was discovered.”

However, this statement contrasts with just about everything TU says took place. There was no communication between him and AMC, the MPAA, or the ICE agents before they detained him; the Glass was off since TU went into the movie theater; and now the MPAA says Google Glass is a great piece of technology and that they see no problem with it. Yet, despite this statement, the story TU tells makes it sound like the ICE agents and the MPAA made him out to be public enemy number one.

“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.”

When we asked for clarification, the MPAA told us that they “currently [have] seen no proof Google Glass is a threat to perpetuate content theft.” That said, this whole story still doesn’t add up. We’re not sure why the MPAA felt the need to monitor the theater and call authorities to detain people in the first place.

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