Hollywood is very concerned about digital piracy at "sneak previews":
- Before a recent advance screening of "X2: X-Men United" at Horton Plaza's theaters, Fox Studios employees scanned movie critics with metal detectors to search for hidden digital camcorders.
Once the lights dimmed, the employees donned night-vision goggles to monitor the audience.
Using tools designed for war and used to thwart terrorists, Hollywood has escalated the fight against the digital theft of movies.
The measures are particularly evident at advance screenings, primarily attended by winners of promotional tickets as well as movie critics.
Studio employees search for the ever-smaller camcorders that cinema pirates use to record movies, making copies that quickly turn up at swap meets and on the Internet before a film's release.
"We take this very seriously," said Jeffrey Godsick, Fox Studios' executive vice president. "There are a number of measures we are taking at every pre-release screening."
Fox and other studios search moviegoers' bags, and security employees – some using night-vision technology – monitor the crowd.
"If you go out to go to the bathroom or get popcorn, we'll wand you and search your bags again," Godsick said.
At a screening in another city, Fox employees found a moviegoer with a camcorder on a tripod before the movie started, he said.
Studios say they are using the metal detectors and night-vision goggles only at "sneak previews."
Godsick and others say they have no plans to use the technology on customers after a movie's release.
....While some cry foul, the high-tech practice is probably merely misguided, said Chris Hedgecock, president of Zeropaid.com, a San Diego Web site for fans of file sharing.
Hedgecock said camcorder copies of motion pictures are typically of low quality. The bigger problem, he said, stems from industry insiders who sell high-quality copies to counterfeiters.
The MPAA's Jacobsen said the association is equally concerned about pirated copies coming from industry insiders.
Copies of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" have been available on the Internet for weeks, although the movie isn't out on DVD, Hedgecock said.
"That's a DVD-quality rip. That's not coming from a camcorder." [San Diego Union-Tribune]
That hole is harder to plug, isn't it? This is similar to the open secret that a high percentage of CDs in used CD stores come from label employees and writers.