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Night vision goggles get green light in Germany to catch camcording pirates

Given that 80% of pirated DVD material is sourced from camcording a movie in a cinema, according to the MPAA, measures are being taken to stop these activities. The latest to date comes from Germany where the Data Protection Agency of several landers have allowed the use of night vision goggles in movie theatres to catch camcording pirates.

Data protection inquiries came in the wake of press reports on the use of night vision goggles in some cinemas to prevent piracy during the opening weekend of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" in Germany.

The Saxony-Anhalt Data Protection Agency, that published an assessment of the use of night vision goggles in movie theatres, reached the conclusion that the selective use of such devices, so long as they are not connected to a recording device, “is not tantamount to placing filmgoers under general suspicion.” Also, if moviegoers are clearly notified of this surveillance prior to buying their tickets, they are judged to have been given adequate options.

Because of the enormous damage caused by the illegal camcording and distribution of films, the Data Protection Agency accepts that the film industry has a legitimate interest in protecting itself. In view of that, it concludes that the use of night vision goggles is no breach of privacy.

The Saxony-Anhalt Data Protection Agency is the second such authority, after its counterpart in the neighbouring state of Saxony, to rule that the use of such equipment under these circumstances does not contravene to privacy laws. The data protection authorities of Thuringia and Rhineland-Palatinate are currently carrying out an evaluation of these pirate-catching methods.

Story filed 15.10.09

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