High-tech solution tackles pervasive problem

During a presentation at CinemaCon last week, one attendee was suddenly hit by a beam of light — a sign that he was an unwitting participant in a demonstration of a new tool to fight piracy.

It’s a problem that costs the global entertainment industry billions of dollars a year, and a thorny issue with no easy solutions, although there’s been some success through legislation, education and high-tech tools.

A new tool is PirateEye, which was used at CinemaCon’s Caesars Palace venue this year and which touts itself as the “first fully automated anti-piracy solution,” without the use of lasers or theater personnel.

Using Caesars’ Colosseum, which was converted into a high-tech theater, confab organizers installed the PirateEye system to protect never-before-seen footage screened by some studios.

Brian Dunn, CEO of FPSI, describes PirateEye as a new-generation system that works on a plug-and-play basis.

PirateEye is used in eight theaters (all of them movie premiere locations). Dunn’s FPSI bought the technology, which has been in development since 2006, last December and plans to expand to commercial locations in the near future.

PirateEye claims to have protected more than 10,000 screenings in the U.S., and has even led to criminal arrests and prosecutions.

The way it works: The system uses multiple reflectors placed throughout a theater that can detect digital recording devices and cell phones in use. It is also monitored remotely in real time by the company’s network operations center. The makers claim it is 100% fool-proof.

PrivateEye’s technology, according to Dunn, makes bag checks, metal detectors and even security personnel obsolete.

“A guy running up and down the aisle with night-vision goggles is only going to see so much,” he says.

“We’re talking to all the major premiere locations, and they all say we need this in our theaters. Then we’ll look to regular cinemas.”

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