BY: WHITNEY SULLIVAN
Google Glass is the latest major innovation from the Internet giant. It has been getting buzz as possibly being the first “wearable computer” to really take off with the mainstream. However, this exciting innovation includes a feature that does not only pose a problem for the privacy-loving individual, it may have major implications for the entertainment industry and the ongoing fight against piracy.
These futuristic glasses allow the wearer to access the Internet in a variety of ways. Currently, a long waiting list and a steep price tag (approximately $1,500) stands between Average Joe and his own pair of these futuristic lenses. But, Google has embarked on a massive marketing campaign to make Google Glass seem like the next must-have. It is being promoted through advertisements as technology that will soon be as omnipresent as — and perhaps even replace — our cellphones.
So, what’s the issue? The Google Glass feature at the heart of most of the fuss is the device’s camera. The invention comes complete with a high-quality camera that doesn’t have a shutter sound or flashing light to indicate if the wearer is recording whatever he or she may see. This slick spec has inspired fervent debate in individuals who have taken to the Internet (and even the product’s Google+ page) [1. Google Glass Google+ Page, https://plus.google.com/+GoogleGlass/posts (last visited Nov. 2, 2013).] to complain about potential privacy infringements.
No cases have been filed yet. But, this futuristic technology has already been banned in several bars, casinos, and clubs. [2. Dave Their, Google Glass Won’t Be Allowed In Strip Clubs, Forbes (Apr. 9, 2013), http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2013/04/09/google-glass-wont-be-allowed-in-strip-clubs/. See also Christina Chaey, Tracking: The Ban On Google Glass, Fast Company (Jul. 1, 2013), http://www.fastcompany.com/3009432/tech-forecast/tracking-the-ban-on-google-glass.] This move by private establishments to get out ahead of possible infringement has us considering what the widespread use of Google Glass may mean for movie theaters.
Piracy has plagued the movie industry for many years, the problem worsening as recording devices became easier to conceal and illegal streaming is rampant on the Internet. In the coming years, movie theaters may take a cue from the growing number of casinos, strip clubs, and even bars, which have already stated that the cost of entry is the removal of a person’s high-tech specs.[3. id.]
However, simply stashing your specs with a theater employee may void a Google Glass owner’s warrantee. The Glass Terms of Sale, agreed to by purchasing the new hardware, limits an owner stating: “If you resell, rent, lease, transfer, or give your device to any person without Google’s authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the Device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty.”[4. Glass Terms of Sale, Glass, http://www.google.com/glass/terms (last visited Nov. 2, 2013).] This means that even if movie theaters were to request Glass wearers stash their glasses at the box office, an owner’s compliance may result in a voided warrantee. Suddenly that expensive technology would be useless. (Not to mention that I’m sure I’m not the only person who wouldn’t willingly put my fancy new $1500 toy into the hands of anyone I didn’t know and trust.)
There are no official announcements about piracy concerns from the Google Glass inventors as of yet. But, this month the company did issue a 25-page report titled “How Google Fights Piracy.”[5. Google Report, How Google Fights Piracy (Sept. 2013) https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwxyRPFduTN2dVFqYml5UENUeUE/edit?pli=1.] The document’s focus is on the ways that Google is currently responding to piracy complaints, via YouTube, AdBlock, and Google Search Engine policies. Although the report doesn’t mention the company’s newest invention, it does outline several anti-piracy principles that include providing alternatives to piracy, protecting against abuse, and acting in a transparent manner.
So, perhaps there is hope for the movie theaters yet? We’ll keep you posted as the issue develops!