MPAA must place innovation above unnecessary interrogation

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

“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.”

This statement was made by the man who identifies himself as TU, a man yanked from an AMC movie theater in Columbus, Ohio for wearing his Google Glass, which contained his prescription lenses. For some odd reason, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) had been in an ordinary Ohio theater at 10 p.m. and caught him in the villainous act of wearing glasses to improve his vision, according to The Gadgeteer.

The man was held for three and a half hours and excessively questioned about recording a movie with his Google Glass, which had been turned off at the time. Strangely enough, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — an organization created to fight terrorism — teamed up with the MPAA to investigate a potential movie piracy incident.

As wearables become mainstream over the next few years, the MPAA cannot have the right to violate the privacy of citizens and waste hours of their lives each time they wear Google Glasses in a theater. Considering the inconvenience it caused him, TU should be compensated beyond the two free movies that the MPAA chose to give him as an apology for three-and-a-half hours of interrogation.

Although the MPAA claimed that the interview was completely voluntary, TU states that he was threatened with “bad things” happening to him if he did not go through with it. In truth, it was voluntary — just as voluntary as the letters sent out to college students by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) demanding $3000 worth of voluntary settlements, according to NBC news.

Trade organizations, such as the MPAA and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), have become entirely too powerful, ruining the lives of hundreds by over-exaggerating cases of piracy and suing everyday citizens for all that they have. These organizations have created an atmosphere in which people cannot even wear their prescription glasses to a movie theater.

Piracy is wrong, as it threatens the livelihood of actors, directors, musicians, and developers. However, the five-year sentence and $250,000 fine for copyright infringement cited at the beginning of each movie is just ludicrous. It appears even more ridiculous when compared to the average time served by convicted rapists, which is less than six years.

In other words, current laws treat movie recording as nearly on par with sexual assault. While piracy is obviously a problem, it has been elevated to the level in which an innocent man has been pulled from a theater by federal agents simply for wearing smart prescription glasses.

The MPAA should look into working with companies to ensure that people cannot use Google Glass in theaters to record movies. Perhaps meeting with Google and adding a feature to their product that turns off video recording in theaters would be a better solution. This feature could be easily implemented by a Bluetooth signal if Google integrated the technology into its system. This feature would be relatively cheap, prevent the interrogation of innocent civilians, and more effectively prevent piracy.

The United States must reform its copyright laws to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in the future. It must require the MPAA to have sufficient evidence against someone before ruining an ordinary movie night. In addition, it must force the MPAA to create new and innovative measures to prevent piracy, instead of instilling fear in the public and giving copyright infringers an assaulter’s sentence.