Disney: Protecting IP or Compromising Personal Rights?

By a Solari Report Subscriber

[CAF Note: Yikes! Has this happened to you? If you are a subscriber, post your story on the blog or, if not, let us know at communicate@wordpressdevurl.com. Let us know if we can share your story!]

My girlfriend and I had an interesting incident this evening. We had been given free tickets to see a preview of a new PIXAR movie (BRAVE) at our local movie house. Once we got inside, I noticed a line of other theatre-goers who were slowly filing past card tables staffed by some black-clad individuals who were obviously not employees. Given there were numerous bags on the card tables, we both assumed the slow line was due to the handing out of movie merchandise. As we got closer to the front of the queue, I saw one oversized goon scanning the insides of a woman’s handbag with some kind of high tech flashlight. When we asked him what was going on, he informed us that we would need to “surrender our cell phones” as video pirating had become too easy given the quality of current technology. I looked at V and said “no way we’re playing that game”, but before we left, another, much smaller goon came up carrying a high tech metal detector.

My girlfriend asked him what that was for and he replied “everyone needs to be scanned before going in”. That pretty much sealed the deal for us, so we shared with the goons the degree of offensiveness involved before departing. Perhaps my most disappointing observation of the evening was the manner in which others theater-goers, who were within earshot of our conversation, continued to endure the process as if they had no choice in the matter. We sought out the theater manager and shared our concerns with him. He responded that the goons were from a private company (sponsored by Disney) and he had no choice but to allow them to function in the manner they were currently exhibiting. We told him the choice to allow such behaviors within his theater would be the direct cause of our never coming back (even though this was literally our first movie date), and while he looked a bit perplexed, seem somewhat comfortable with this particular status quo. It would be interesting to find out if other listeners within Catherine’s audience have encountered similar incidents.

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Response by a Movie Industry Professional:

If a movie is being screened to any audience before its release date, all studios want to protect it from from being illegally copied. MPAA and Anti-piracy regulations obligate them to do so as well. This is done by, amongst others, checking for hidden video cameras and by not allowing cell phones inside a theater. Sometimes they also use night vision goggles to spot recording inside a theater. Movie piracy – recording and illegal downloads- is rampant worldwide and anti-piracy measures by movie companies and theater owners have been in operation for at least 15 years. All big city movie fans are very much aware of it as it happens at every free pre-release screening. Most pirating incidentally happens at small theaters in small towns. This screening was a free ride for the blogger- it’s not like he paid for it and then he was subjected to something he did not want. Anti-piracy precautions at research and premiere screenings (i.e. non-paid, pre-release screenings) are so common that it is strange that he had no clue.

This is also not limited to Disney- it applies to any new release and the “goons” are simply a security company hired by whoever did marketing research, probably NRG. Usually an invitation has a paragraph warning an audience that bringing and using of any recording devices is prohibited. Really, there is nothing sinister here.