Homeland security

Google Glass User Interrogated by DHS on Suspicion of Movie Pirating


Before getting too bothered by the following, remember 1) there is nowhere for the federal government to cut spending and 2) the Department of Homeland Security is saving our lives from terrorism and their expense and methods shouldn't be questioned too hard.

Still, I found this long account from the Gadgeteer web site about how a Google Glass user watching Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit at an AMC theater in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday was taken out of the movie and subjected to a multi-hour, multi-agent interrogation by agents of the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs division, and it makes you wonder.

Part of the glass-wearer's reminiscence:

What followed was over an hour of the "feds" telling me I am not under arrest, and that this is a "voluntary interview", but if I choose not to cooperate bad things may happen to me (is it legal for authorities to threaten people like that?). I kept telling them that Glass has a USB port and not only did I allow them, I actually insist they connect to it and see that there was nothing but personal photos with my wife and my dog on it….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.

I kept telling them that I wasn't recording anything – my Glass was off, they insisted they saw it on. I told them there would be a light coming out the little screen if Glass was on, and I could show them that, but they insisted that I cannot touch my Glass for the fear "I will erase the evidence against me that was on Glass"…..They wanted to know where I got Glass…. I offered to show them receipt and Google Glass website if they would allow me to access any computer with internet. Of course, that was not an option. Then they wanted to know what does Google ask of me in exchange for Glass, how much is Google paying me, who is my boss and why am I recording the movie.

Eventually, after a long time somebody came with a laptop and an USB cable at which point he told me it was my last chance to come clean. I repeated for the hundredth time there is nothing to come clean about and this is a big misunderstanding so the FBI guy [actually DHS as it turns out] finally connected my Glass to the computer, downloaded all my personal photos and started going though them one by one (although they are dated and it was obvious there was nothing on my Glass that was from the time period they accused me of recording). Then they went through my phone, and 5 minutes later they concluded I had done nothing wrong.

I asked why didn't they just take those five minutes at the beginning of the interrogation and they just left the room. A guy who claimed his name is Bob Hope (he gave me his business card) came in the room, and said he was with the Movie Association and they have problems with piracy at that specific theater and that specific movie. He gave me two free movie passes "so I can see the movie again". I asked if they thought my Google Glass was such a big piracy machine, why didn't they ask me not to wear them in the theater?….All he said was AMC called him, and he called the FBI and "here are two more passes for my troubles"….

A statement from the DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, obtained by Columbus Dispatch:

On Jan. 18, special agents with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations
and local authorities briefly interviewed a man suspected of using an
electronic recording device to record a film at an AMC theater in
Columbus.  The man, who voluntarily answered questions, confirmed to
authorities that the suspected recording device was also a pair of
prescription eye glasses in which the recording function had been
inactive. No further action was taken.

Khaalid Walls, ICE spokesman

New technologies can confuse people, I suppose. But it takes paranoid government agents to turn being an early adopter into being an obvious criminal of some sort.

Hat tip: Daniel Lozano

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  1. It’s the obvious fly in the ointment–if you’re recording stuff as you walk around, then you’re making unauthorized reproductions. It’s really happening quite a bit already with cellphone/cameras. Not sure what the fuss is about unless it happens at early screenings, but anything that can record are usually verboten there, anyway.

  2. I would have told the guy to stick the free passes up his ass.

  3. Homeland Security? The fuck?

    1. That was my reaction, too, but they’ve consolidated a bunch of agencies under DHS, so I guess that’s why. Or copyright infringement is now terrorism–who knows?

      1. IP protection is a big part of Customs. Homeland Security owns CPB and ICE. Really, customs is by far their most Constitutionally legitimate role.

        The problem here is not DHS. The problem is how out of hand IP protection has gotten. If DHS didn’t exist, Treasury would be doing the same thing.

        1. I’m really uncomfortable with the idea of copyright infringement being criminal. I mean, yes, I get the theft aspect to it, but it’s not the same thing as taking someone’s money or TV.

          1. Me too. I don’t even know when or how it became criminal. I didn’t even know it was a criminal matter until I went to law school.

            I bet most Americans would be shocked to learn IP is a criminal matter.

            1. What’s difficult for me is the tension between free speech and copyright and the gray areas in between. If a “theft” could be a fair use or even reasonably believed to be a fair use, where’s the mens rea?

              1. There is a huge tension. For example, the MLK family owns all of the rights to his speeches. They will not allow use of his speeches in any movie that so much as mentions his adultery. The result of that is that is impossible to make an honest account of MLK’s life. You either have to white wash the adultery or make a movie that includes none of his speeches or writings.

                MLK is one of the most significant figures in 20th Century American history. I think the interest in artists being able to create fully honest accounts of his life outweighs the IP interest of his family. They didn’t even write the speeches. Why the hell should they be able to control them?

                1. Look at the statue they picked out for his monument and you know they are into fascism.

                2. Under any sane view of the law, it’s fair use to use parts of his speeches in a work that otherwise isn’t trading off of his IP and is trying to say something about his role in history.

                3. The speech copyright stuff just stuns me. As bad as IP law already is, how can you copyright a public speech given by a public figure? you are intentionally in public and speaking/broadcasting so that as many people hear your words as possible. How can anybody then claim that nobody can repeat what you said in even an historical capacity? (don’t get me started on copyright for people who didn’t themselves write/create or trusts for works by people who have died and therefore cannot even collect on potential $$$)

                  I just hope major companies and trusts act stupid and try to flat out deny reasonable use so that it comes to a head and normal people pay attention. OTOH, the worst would be for them to act smart and give a little here and there for popular exceptions that really achieve nothing but work to quiet momentary uproar.

            2. What’s crazy is that the PRO-IP Act actually had a provision that would have let the MPAA and RIAA get DoJ to prosecute civil copyright violations for them, instead of using their own money.

              That section was removed from the final bill because GWB threatened a veto over that it, but the rest of the bill made it into law.

            3. I didn’t even know it was a criminal matter until I went to law school.

              Really? You’ve never read the FBI warning at the beginning of every recorded movie ever made since the VCR was invented?

              1. Now that you say that, yes. But honestly I never really thought about it being a crime.

                1. I knew about it because I saw the special What’s Happening episode where Rerun got busted recording a Doobie Brothers concert.

                  Hey hey hey.

                  1. I only knew about it from watching the Led Zeppelin movie The Song Remains the Same. But I just thought violating IP meant some thug manager beat the shit out of you.

            4. Just abridge or paraphrase the speeches. Everyone already gets the gist of them anyway.

          2. “It’s not the same thing as taking someone’s money or TV.”

            No, just his livelihood.

            1. Since when do you need IP to have a livelihood as an author or musician? Shakespeare, Milton, Beethoven, Bach and a whole lot of others seemed to have made a living before IP.

        2. Homeland Security owns CPB and ICE. Really, customs is by far their most Constitutionally legitimate role.

          So what you’re saying is these are “profit centers” for DHS. And this allows DHS to “sell its goods” as “loss leaders” thereby making a “profit.”

    2. Seriously. If you are going around with a video camera attached to your face, you should expect to be scrutinized at a movie theatre, but why the fuck would DHS immigration and customs be involved?

      1. Because you might export the video and sell it overseas. It is a stretch. But basically ICE has become the all purpose IT enforcers.

        1. As customs is mostly about collecting taxes and, apparently, enforcing copyrights, it is pretty ridiculous that all of it was made part of DHS. But of course, it is easier to do all of this shit when you can claim that it is all for the sake of national security.

  4. If IP protection means giving the government the power to do this shit, to hell with it. Get rid of it all. IP protection is what 250 years old? We managed to go pretty far before it. And whatever value it has, its benefactors have long since forfeited any right to it via their abuse of it.

    1. Or, just stop going to movies. Seriously, I’m at that point now. I hate to give any Hollywood clown my money for movie tickets and I’m feeling the same way about the NFL. I look at it like cutting off the terrorists’ funding.

      1. I just don’t go because I’d rather watch something in a comfy chair where I can drink and smoke. Now I have another reason not to go.

  5. Still, I found this long account from the Gadgeteer web site about how a Google Glass user watching Jack Reacher: Shadow Recruit at an AMC theater in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday was taken out of the movie and subjected to a multi-hour, multi-agent interrogation by agents of the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs division.

    Two points:

    1) I’m with Spoonman……DHS…..? The fuck?

    2) Why on earth would anyone want to record a Tom Cruise movie. Should have sent the lad to a shrink not subject him to an interrogation.

    1. The first Jack Reacher was awesome, just like every other Tom Cruise movie. He is a national treasure. AND NO I’M NOT JOKING.

      1. I will agree that Cocktail is the finest movie of it’s genre.

        1. It is genre?

          1. Your right!

          2. Have you met Ted S.?

    2. It as Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. All of the Chris Pine, with 50% fewer lens flares.

  6. Seems like this should be a civil matter.

    1. Sure seems that way. At what point did IP become a criminal matter? But I can tell you from experience that the FBI and Customs are nearly as obsessed with it as they are with drugs and sometimes more. I have a friend who spent five years as an AUSA down on the Mexican border. The entire time he was there, his cases were almost entirely related to drugs and were broth to him by CPB and DEA. The one time the FBI ever brought him a case it was against some guy selling counterfeit Beyonce CDs. No shit. Drug gangs were running wild and the FBI was going after counterfeit Beyonce CDs. I am not sure how it works, but Hollywood seems to use the FBI as a wholly owned subsidiary.

      1. At what point did IP become a criminal matter?

        When cryptological programs became “munitions”.

        1. If the GOP were anything but stupid and corrupt, they would go after Hollywood and IP law. Everyone outside of the bastards in Hollywood hates it. And Hollywood does nothing but fund the GOP’s adversaries. There is not political downside to them doing it.

          The fact that they don’t go after Hollywood and its IP laws and tax breaks tells you all you need to know about how irredeemably stupid and corrupt the GOP is. Hell, the Dems at least get a payoff for supporting this shit. The GOP gets a kick in the teeth and asks for more.

          1. Actually, I think it’s worse than that. They are captive to IP interests (and money) as well.

            1. But the IP interests stab them in the back. They are not getting a good deal.

              1. Well, there are more than just Hollywood interests at stake.

  7. Is this shitty reporting? Or is there actually a movie called Jack Reacher: Shadow Recruit? Because it sounds like shitty reporting since there is a new movie out, not starring Tom Cruise (Jack Reacher) called Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Jack Ryan is played by Captain Kirk and his recruiter is played by Dances With Wolves. So, yeah….the fuck?

    1. Captain Kirk? Really, they have a new movie starring William Shatner? He’s kind of old to play a lead in an action movie.

      1. I like to piss people off.

        1. Who, George Takei? He really dislikes Shatner, true.

          1. The fuck?

          2. People who insist Shatner is Kirk and Chris Pine isn’t. Like it or not, they’re both Kirk. It’s Pine’s most recognizable character to date and I think he’s done a good job. I also thought Into Darkness was really good. Suck it, Trekkies. (I know…but suck it anyway.)

            1. I don’t know that Takei insists on that. Like I said, he hates Shatner.

          3. George Takei has the greatest facebook feed of any celebrity or sort of celebrity on earth. I really have to give the guy credit. He is incredibly self aware and has a tremendous sense of humor.

  8. Omg…I wish this would happen to me so I could tell them to go fuck themselves. I’m in Columbus but I dont have google glasses. Maybe I can make a fake pair out of cardboard and wear them every time I go to a movie. This makes my head explode. Seriously.

    1. Yeah. The first time they say “this is a voluntary interview”, get up and walk out.

      1. Voluntary doesn’t mean the same thing to them as it does to you.

        1. Well, no, but you’d find out just what it means to them.

      2. From my time here, I now have the same inclination. That being said, I have a feeling that what DHS is threatening is big show-of-force raid at the person’s home (getting the info from a license plate check or some other ID method), complete with a warrant.

        I fully expect they would do whatever they can to make a person rue their “non-cooperation”. Is anyone prepared to deal with that?

        1. Ah yes. Cooperate… or we’ll break down your door, shoot your dog, and smash everything you own.

  9. Just take some shitty athletic glasses and glue a little led light to the inside.

    1. I think I just saw Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving)

  10. Luckily, it would be impossible for phone metadata to trigger such utter stupidity among people whose supposed mission is to protect us from terrorist attacks, but who instead act as intellectually challenged goons for the movie industry. That’s why we shouldn’t worry about our phone metadata being collected.

  11. I don’t agree with the Lew Rockwell types who insist that intellectual property doesn’t exist and there shouldn’t be any copyright protections. But if the choice were between that and the kind of insane overenforcement and absurd penalties that we see here, I would side with the Auburn lunatics every time.

    1. We had sane copyright laws, for the most part, all the way into the 70s. Then we went horribly insane.

    2. I could be happy with 7 year patents and 14 year copyrights.

      1. I’d be happy with 6 month patents and 3 month copyrights.

    3. It’s not that IP doesn’t exist. It’s that it’s fundamentally incompatible with real, normal, actual physical property rights. If you still want to make a utilitarian trade off between the two, that’s fine really. But that entails the government decreasing all of our real property rights in exchange for extra activity-monopoly-rights for an entrenched few. We know how that story ends …. so you know …. foreseeable consequences and all that stuff.

      — Auburn lunatic sympathizer

  12. Why would you show pics of your wife and dog to these goons? Talk about a literal “triggering” event.

    Also, don’t I get partial hat tip? Maybe you could just touch the brim of your cap?

  13. Unless someone has a statutory citation to the contrary, I opine that taping in the U.S. is not in Homeland Security’s jurisdiction.

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