- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2015

Copyright crusaders are prepping for the release of a new James Bond film in the U.K. next month by increasing security measures at regional cinemas in an effort to thwart would-be bootlegers.

More than a month before the latest 007 flick lands in movie houses, anti-piracy advocates say British moviegoers can expect to see theater staffers sporting night-vision goggles.

Kieron Sharp, the director general of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), told reporters that the eyewear will be used to make sure “cammers” aren’t illegally recording “Spectre” when it arrives in U.K. cinemas on Oct. 26, two weeks before its American release.

“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,” Mr. Sharp told Press Association this week.

“The bigger the film and the more anticipated it is, the higher risk it is. We have staff on extra alert for that. 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,” he said.

Movie houses routinely do security sweeps to make sure films aren’t bootleged by ticket-holders who manage to smuggle cameras into screening rooms, and U.K. theaters have occasionally used equipment including night-vision goggles to assist their efforts for at least a decade.

Mr. Sharp said, however, pirates are taking advantage of increasingly smaller and smarter technology, such as smartphones, to record movies and make them available online before they leave the box office. 

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

“They use various tricks like cutting a hole in a popcorn cup. Sometimes, we see a sock with a hole cut in, which they put over the phone so there is no shine to the phone,” Mr. Sharp added.

The anti-piracy executive says “extra security” measures — including the use of night-vision eyewear — can be expected to be put in place next month when “Spectre” drops.

Research conducted by Ipsos last year suggests that nearly 30 percent of the U.K. population has enabled piracy in one form of another, costing British studios an estimated £500 million each year. Phil Clapp, a chief executive with the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, an industry trade group, told The Guardian that cinemas there lose roughly £220 million a year due to piracy.

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