UK cinemas to get guards with night-vision goggles in bid to crack down on piracy

Pirates have taken to concealing smartphones in boxes of popcorn and socks

Christopher Hooton
Wednesday 23 September 2015 09:49

God help you if you get bored during Paul Blart: Mall Cop 5 and decide to play a quick game of Candy Crush, because staff at cinemas nationwide are to be kitted out with night-vision goggles to allow them to more easily spot smartphones and people making illegal recordings.

The new measure is part of a general beefing up of security in screens ahead of the release of Spectre, which is set to be a box office smash and a prime target for torrent uploaders.

"The bigger the film and the more anticipated it is, the higher risk it is. We have staff on extra alert for that,” said Kieron Sharp, director general of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

"James Bond is a big risk and we will be working with cinema operators and the distributors making sure we will keep that as tight as possible. We really don't want to see that recorded.

"They are on alert, particularly with the bigger films like James Bond, to really drill down to who is in the auditorium and who might possibly be recording.

"They still do the sweeps around the auditoriums with the night vision glasses regardless of the film. But sometimes extra security is put in place for things like Bond.”

Staff will be particularly vigilant at Spectre screenings

Mr Sharp said that the tactics are a response to pirates’ increasingly crafty methods.

"The days of trying to conceal a camcorder are over. It is much easier to conceal a smartphone,” he explained.

“They use various tricks like cutting a hole in a popcorn cup and putting it wedged in a popcorn cup.

"Sometimes we see a sock with a hole cut in it which they put over the phone so there is no shine to the phone."

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He added of the impact of piracy: “The film industry is huge to the British economy and the amount of people it employs.

"We have Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland and Harry Potter in Scotland - there are a lot of people who rely on the film industry for their livelihoods."

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