Google Glass Banned in U.K. Movie Theaters

Google Glass is getting a tough reception in the U.K. after theater operators announced a ban on patrons wearing the devices inside their movie houses.

Google Glass

Google Glass units have only been on sale to early Glass Explorer beta testers in the United Kingdom since June 23, but already the devices are the subject of a ban inside movie theaters.

The reason for the ban, according to a June 29 report in The (London) Independent, is that theater owners are worried that some patrons wearing the devices would use them to make pirated copies of popular and profitable films being shown inside theaters. "Recording in cinemas is the source of more than 90 per cent of all illegally copied films in their release form," the paper reported.

"Customers will be requested not to wear these into cinema auditoriums, whether the film is playing or not," Phil Clapp, chief executive of the Cinema Exhibitors' Association, told the paper.

The ban certainly arrived quickly. Google Glass only went on sale in the U.K. on June 23, marking the first place where Glass is available for sale other than the United States. Glass units in the U.K. are priced at 1,000 British Pounds, which is equivalent to about $1,703 U.S.

The Glass devices built specifically for the U.K. include software that is localized for the British market, including such things as weather temperatures being listed in Celsius rather than in Fahrenheit, as well as improved voice recognition for U.K. accents, according to Google. The Glass team is also working with U.K. developers to provide locally relevant Glassware for use by customers across the pond.

"Google Glass batteries power down after 45 minutes of continuous recording, making it unlikely anyone could capture an entire film," The Independent reported. "But gangs now have the ability to combine video sourced from one cinema with images and sound from another to produce counterfeit discs, mass-produced for sale or upload."

Google has certainly heard these kinds of concerns about Glass in the past here in the United States.

In January 2014, a network administrator from Columbus, Ohio, was removed from a movie theater and questioned by federal authorities over concerns that he was using the Google Glass on his head to film a bootleg copy of the movie being shown in the theater, according to an earlier eWEEK report.

That followed the case of a California driver who was stopped for speeding in October 2013 and cited for speeding and for driving while wearing Google Glass. The case against her was eventually dismissed when a judge ruled that the arresting officer had not observed her actually using the head-mounted computer.

Concerns about Google Glass and the law had surfaced even before both of these cases. Reports from around the nation have occasionally made headlines when bars, restaurants and other public facilities have posted signs inside their establishments banning the use of Google Glass inside due to privacy and other issues.