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Thread: Big Brother Time Warner is Watching You

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    Blind_Io's Avatar
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    Big Brother Time Warner is Watching You

    http://consumerist.com/consumer/big-...acy-291307.php

    Is Warner Bros. Filming Audiences In An Attempt To Stop Piracy?

    invasion.jpgHere's the creepiest complaint we've received in a long, long time. Reader Sam says he was filmed by a security guard contracted by Time/Warner during a recent showing of The Invasion at an AMC movie theater.

    When he complained about it to customer service, they told him "Time Warner/Warner Bros had contracted a security company to film movie theater audiences around the country during the opening weekend of its movies in an effort to prevent piracy." Ew! We think this is scary. If we saw some potential psycho filming us during a movie we'd be weirded out and we'd leave. Especially if it was during a (sort-of) remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Do not go to sleep. Warner Bros. will film you.

    We emailed Time Warner for comment, but haven't heard back. Here's Sam's letter:

    Dear Consumerist,
    Last night (Aug. 19) myself and a friend decided to venture to the local movie theater (AMC Lowes Georgetown 14) to catch the 7:35pm showing of The Invasion. The movie started on time with a moderately full theater and immediately I notice an older gentleman who looked to be about 60 standing in the corner of the theater. Sporting a black suit and a black briefcase, he began to film the audience during the movie. Every 5-10 minutes he would sweep the audience with his video camera, then turn it off and just watch us, then turn the camera back on and sweep again. Now being in Washington DC people are very security conscious and at first I thought he might have been Secret Service but he only stayed in the theater filming for about 45 minutes.

    After the movie I went to the Customer Service desk to inquire if they knew about this incident. The manager behind the desk informed me that Time Warner/Warner Bros had contracted a security company to film movie theater audiences around the country during the opening weekend of its movies in an effort to prevent piracy. While I believe steps should be taken to curb piracy, this was one of the most unnerving experiences of my life, and I was not only person that felt this way. I overheard at least 4 other people complain to customer service about this incident, with 2 of them stating that if this ever happened again they would stop using this particular chain of theaters. I was quite surprised at the reaction of the customer service employee, he did not seem to to care one bit that people were opening telling him they would stop using this theater and he brushed off the criticism by shrugging his shoulders and just stared blankly back at those of us who were complaining and passed the blame to Time Warner/Warner Bros.

    The question is, what does Time Warner/Warner Bros do with these video tapes? How long are they stored? Is there a massive database of these tapes somewhere? While I do know that laws allow for photography of people without their permission in public places but does this apply to a a movie theater since it is a private business? And if it is not allowed, I was not informed by AMC Lowes that I would be filmed during the movie so what are the legal ramifications of that action?

    This email is also being sent to Craig Ramsey who is the Chief Financial Officer for AMC Entertainment and is listed as their Media Contact on their SEC filings and Craig Hoffman of Warner Bros who is listed as their Anti-Piracy press contact.

    -Sam
    We're waiting anxiously for Warner to tell us it's not true, that they hired the creepy guy with the video camera to scare people who went to see a scary movie, because the idea that Warner Bros. will be filming us during a movie is enough to put us off the whole thing.
    Wow. Just fuckin' wow. As if the craptastic movies, high ticket prices, endless ads, kids kicking me in the back of my head, cell phone yappers, texters, and audience plot narrators aren't enough to keep me out of the theater - now I have to put up with being video taped during the show?

    Yes, I know that all the Londoners will talk about how cameras make things safe - this isn't about preventing assaults or murders, it's just about a company enforcing policy on customers. I don't even have a problem with that, but this would be like Visa videoing all the credit card transactions at Target. Why is the theater chain putting up with this? Why are people putting up with it? How much is this costing Time/Warner and how much loss do they expect to prevent? I just can't see this making sense socially or economically.

    I'm fairly sure that they need to disclaim to patrons at the time of purchase that they will be videoed. I would want my money back and I would go to another theater. Call me crazy or eccentric, but money talks and mine is going to speak from a place that has more of a backbone.
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    Previously known as epp_b Top Geek's Avatar
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    This is absolutely sick. It's this kind of crap that has made me decide never to step foot in a movie theatre again, particularly with Canada's new Hollywood-bought-and-paid-for camcording "law".

    And I'm telling everyone I know.

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    Blind_Io's Avatar
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    What if you brought in a camera and just filmed them filming you? As long as you have the sound off and are not showing the screen they can't really touch you, can they?

    I do think it would be funny if they tried to take you to court over it. Just bring in the tape that has no content from the film, but shows them filming you. One way or another there would be a judgment about the legality of it. They certainly couldn't argue what you were doing was illegal - filming people in a theater - because they were doing the exact same thing. If they argued that point they would be shooting themselves in the foot.
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    Aussie Bastard HondaF1's Avatar
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    That's why I just wait til everything comes out on DVD.
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    That's why I've downloaded over 1 TB of content because I get bugged for doing if I go to movie theatres and all and if I don't... well I don't.
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    UPDATE: Sam writes to tell us that the CSR he spoke to originally was mistaken and the scary Warner Bros. thug wasn't filming, but was, in fact, using night vision goggles. Sam writes:



    This afternoon I received an email from the Director of Guest Services for AMC Theaters, I spoke with her on the phone and she was extremely apologetic about the incident. She also wanted to clear up some misinformation provided by the AMC Customer Service Representative. The man in the suit was not in fact filming the audience, he was using a night vision scope. She assured me that AMC would never allow filming of the audience. Apparently the Georgetown 14 theater has been recently hit by pirates and this was part of the effort put on by the studio to combat such piracy. I explained to her that if this type of audience surveillance was going to happen theater goers need to be notified and she wholeheartedly agreed.

    She said that she would be discussing the incident further with the manager of the theater and the CSR that I spoke with after the movie and then speak with the studio about the incident to see what can be done in the future. I was also provided with free movie passes and was told that I would be receiving an official letter of apology from AMC.

    While certainly not as creepy as the scenario Sam originally described, being watched while watching a movie certainly is distracting. When Sam asked the AMC what was going on they should have been able to tell him
    Still very strange but at least they were not filming anyone.
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    vRS
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdbob View Post
    That's why I've downloaded over 1 TB of content because I get bugged for doing if I go to movie theaters and all and if I don't... well I don't.
    Wouldn't say that if I were you, one of us could be a Warner Spy...................

    I used to love the cinema but now I hate it. You get those bastards behind you that kick you're seat and spoil the film, plus its getting increasingly expensive and the Coke is 50% ice. Only good bit is that they have Ferrari 355 Challenge outside mine and I could sit there for 2 hours playing instead of watching a film.

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    Previously known as FATMOUSE Hatmouse's Avatar
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    UPDATE: Sam writes to tell us that the CSR he spoke to originally was mistaken and the scary Warner Bros. thug wasn't filming, but was, in fact, using night vision goggles.
    Yeah. Right.

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    If I'm in a theater and I see this happen, I'm walking out and I damn well better receive a refund. I don't care if he's using night vision goggles. I'm there to enjoy a movie, not be snooped on by a creepy old man. Or to have him ogle my g/f in night vision.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blind_Io View Post
    What if you brought in a camera and just filmed them filming you? As long as you have the sound off and are not showing the screen they can't really touch you, can they?

    I do think it would be funny if they tried to take you to court over it. Just bring in the tape that has no content from the film, but shows them filming you. One way or another there would be a judgment about the legality of it. They certainly couldn't argue what you were doing was illegal - filming people in a theater - because they were doing the exact same thing. If they argued that point they would be shooting themselves in the foot.
    I believe there was a law past making it illegal to take a video camera into a movie theater... I'll let your imagination take over from there, in the mean time I'll put on my tinfoil hat.

    Quote Originally Posted by vRS View Post
    Wouldn't say that if I were you, one of us could be a Warner Spy...................

    I used to love the cinema but now I hate it. You get those bastards behind you that kick you're seat and spoil the film, plus its getting increasingly expensive and the Coke is 50% ice. Only good bit is that they have Ferrari 355 Challenge outside mine and I could sit there for 2 hours playing instead of watching a film.
    I stopped going to theaters because for several reasons. 1: Many of the movies aren't worth it when I have a big screen and surround sound, 2: I can't pause/rewind and go take a piss 3: last time I went I had some fuck stick in the row in front of me decide to try and pick a fight with me because his chair kept getting bumped from behind as people came in and out of the row. And of course security didn't do a fucking thing about it.

    And now with them watching me, essentially accusing me of being a cheat and need supervision, I have no desire to goto a theater again.
    Last edited by thedguy; August 23rd, 2007 at 7:48 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FATMOUSE View Post
    Yeah. Right.
    Night vision goggles have been on the market for the general public for years.

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    Previously known as American TG Man Cryptopygia's Avatar
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    Seems the CEO at Warner Bros. read 1984 and thought, "THIS is exactly how the world should be run! I'll get started on it, right now." and consulted a thinktank to create a plausible explanation for it, something the obviously apathetic masses will accept.

    I'll go join TheDGuy and the Foilhat-wearers, now...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blind_Io View Post
    http://consumerist.com/consumer/big-...acy-291307.php
    Yes, I know that all the Londoners will talk about how cameras make things safe.

    Not really, because even if the organised crackheads do kick something off, the police who arrive to stop them will first be given a health and saftey lecture, then check to see if all the equipment is working, then have a nice cup of tea, then put on some saftey googles. No sorry, I'm afraid we can't start the riot control because Jenkins hasn't put his on yet. Then we have to check the equipment is working again, because it might have broken some time in the last three minutes...



    ...sorry I'm going on...I'm just going off to count my huge wad of cash Warner just sent me for spying on you all.

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    Previously known as FATMOUSE Hatmouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by liberal noob View Post
    Night vision goggles have been on the market for the general public for years.
    I know that...I was referring to the backpedaling from filming to night vision.

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    What if you brought in a camera and just filmed them filming you? As long as you have the sound off and are not showing the screen they can't really touch you, can they?

    I do think it would be funny if they tried to take you to court over it. Just bring in the tape that has no content from the film, but shows them filming you. One way or another there would be a judgment about the legality of it. They certainly couldn't argue what you were doing was illegal - filming people in a theater - because they were doing the exact same thing. If they argued that point they would be shooting themselves in the foot.
    Brilliant!

    UPDATE: Sam writes to tell us that the CSR he spoke to originally was mistaken and the scary Warner Bros. thug wasn't filming, but was, in fact, using night vision goggles.
    Isn't that slightly more creepy?

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    Blind_Io's Avatar
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    The only person you can actually identify on nightvision or nightshot is Paris Hilton.

    Oh, Snap!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blind_Io View Post

    Wow. Just fuckin' wow. As if the craptastic movies, high ticket prices, endless ads, kids kicking me in the back of my head, cell phone yappers, texters...
    Man you're just angry about everything. What is so bad about texting someone in a movie.
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    Blind_Io's Avatar
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    For starters, no one holds their phone down out of sight, they hold it up at eye-level and wave it around. It's really annoying to have a multi-colored screen and blue number pad bouncing around in front of me for 30 goddamned minutes. Also, many times they don't turn the phone's notification off, so it's chiming and dinging away or buzzing like mad through the whole film.

    Mostly I hate it because sitting in a dark theater a phone is damn bright and really distracting. Did you come here to talk to your friends or watch the damn movie? Put the phone away - or if you need to send a text, please don't show your phone to the whole damn theater. What's so hard about putting your phone in your lap and shielding it with your other hand so you don't disturb anyone.
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