Thursday, July 23, 2009

Seizing mobile phones in cinemas will not win the war on piracy; Guardian, 7/22/09

Cory Doctorow via Guardian; Seizing mobile phones in cinemas will not win the war on piracy: Studios are concerned at critics pirating movies, but the data on the phones they are asked to surrender is far more sensitive:

"If you go to a preview screening in Leicester Square – a privilege given to press, entertainment industry VIPs and punters who win phone-in prizes – you'll be asked to leave your mobile phone in a bag behind a counter at the front of the cinema.

The film industry says this is a necessary precaution against the hypothetical losses that would result should someone use a mobile phone to "camcord" (record from the audience) a pre-release movie and leak it online. The film Wolverine (panned by 63% of critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes, which also reports a $177,288,905 box office gross to date) is often cited as an example of how a film can be harmed by pre-release leaks. Also cited is Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) research claiming the majority of pirate movies on the internet and sold on the street start as camcordered movies.

Which brings us to the other theoretical risk of leaving hundreds of phones in the safekeeping of a cinema, out of your sight for two or three hours. From sim cloning (copying the sim so other phones can listen to your voicemail and make calls billed to you) to data theft, the risks are enormous. Think of the data storage on your phone - that potential 64GB on a postage-stamp-sized SD card. That's enough to carry around libraries' worth of information. Add contact information - personal phone numbers for all the people in the lives of everyone at the movie, including ministers of state and other VIPs who are routinely invited to previews. Then consider confidential diaries, photos, voice memos, your search history ..."

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