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UK theaters banning notebooks over piracy fears

updated 04:55 pm EDT, Thu October 15, 2009

Cineworld bans notebooks from its movie theaters

UK movie theater chain Cineworld has introduced a new policy that does not allow patrons to bring in notebook PCs to the auditoriums, UK resident Jeremy Nicholas wrote on his blog. The policy was supposedly introduced to help fight piracy, where bootleggers go to see a movie and record it with an electronic device. Nicholas, however, was denied entry despite his Sony VAIO's lack of an integrated webcam, making it impossible to record the main attraction.

Cineworld does offer a check-in service for its patrons, but does not offer any sort of receipt, so there is little stopping dishonest moviegoers, or maybe the very same bootleggers, from claiming it as their own. Nicholas also found devices that are much smaller and actually come with cameras, namely cellphones and smartphones.

The policy also doesn't have a clearly stated way to screen what comes into the theater, as Nicholas was only stopped because he had a notebook bag, while backpacks large enough to carry notebooks or other, more suitable recording devices passed by unchecked.

It is not known if other movie theater chains in the UK or elsewhere will adopt similar policies.

by MacNN Staff



  1. c4rlob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iPhone video

    Who needs a notebook PC when the iPhone does a great job of capturing video (if the screen is large enough). And it records audio fabulously.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Maybe the fact that someone using a backlit LCD screen in a dark movie theater would be annoying as heck would be enough for them to ban them. No need to evoke the big bad piracy bogeyman for this.

  1. darkelf

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "we're also banning...

    "we're also banning netbooks, PDAs, cellphones, unusually bulky eyeglasses, and pants."

  1. bsaxton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This is news?

    Seriously. I just stubbed my toe on my MacBook., go to work on a story on that, would you? I can send pictures.

  1. chas_m



    WiseWeasel is right.

    Anyone using a LCD screen of any kind is going to get "persuaded" to stop doing that or escorted out of ANY cinema that I'm attending, either by the management or by me.

    This is a common-sense move by cinema management to protect the value of the movie experience for their other customers, something you'd think would be obvious, but apparently thinking of others and common courtesy are as dead as chivalry.

    Why on earth would you EVER bring an expensive laptop to a movie theatre?? Do you bring your own microwave so you can make your own popcorn?? Do you drag your own La-Z-Boy out to the rock concerts you attend??

    I'd hate to think of the electronic arsenal you might require in order to attend a church, or a funeral!!

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I don't think it's right

    You can certainly ban the use during movies, but what is supposed to happen to the notebook when you go to see a movie. They are just convincing people to not go to the theater at all.

    I'm not making another trip back to my home, hotel, home town, to drop off my laptop just so I can go see a movie. It's plain old ridiculous.

  1. bauhaus

    Joined: Dec 1969


    A walking city

    Some of you have never lived in a walking city like New York or London. People carry their belongings around with them everywhere (verses going home to pick stuff up) and all the time because they use mass transit. This isn't about using the computer in the theater. It's about meeting up with friends after school and going to see a movie or spending the day at a coffee shop and then deciding to go see a movie. Situations such as these happen a lot in big cities that are subway/walking capable.

  1. CmdrGampu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    WiseWeasel is wrong

    If it's so annoying, why do you need to ban them? Don't you think a theater employee could notice when one was in use? chas_m seems to say exactly that then supports the ban. Isn't that a contradiction? Did you bother to read the blog entry? The manager actually TOLD HIM it was to prevent piracy. THEY brought the "big bad piracy bogeyman into this." He didn't assume that.

    bauhaus is right. A lot of people don't have a car and/or don't want one, so you lug what you need with you everywhere. Even if you have a car, leaving your laptop in it isn't the smartest idea if you don't want it stolen.

    The fact is that this ban is unenforceable in many ways. Any smart person will be carrying their laptop in a nondescript bag to avoid theft or robbery anyway. If Cineworld told me they would "check" my laptop without any kind of precautions, I would take my business elsewhere. And if other theater chains follow suit, that would be one more reason I would start thinking about the Pirate Bay.

  1. jreades

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Since I've yet to be stopped and searched on entry to a Cineworld in London I'm a little confused as to how exactly they determined that he was bringing in his laptop. And carrying a laptop visibly in the parts of London that have Cineworld theatres is just asking for a mugger or a pickpocket to say 'ello.

    Presumably, the 'answer' to this strange ban is to just put your laptop away before strolling into the theatre. Never mind that trying to use your laptop to record a video would be visible from a mile away.

  1. CmdrGampu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Read the blog entry, jreades

    It's not that difficult. He says he was stopped because they saw his laptop bag. He specifically says it's a stupid system because he saw other people going in with bags big enough to hold laptops but not obviously dedicated laptop bags.

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