We recently asked people what they think about new technology that can disable their phone cameras or otherwise lock away their devices while at concerts. The poll we put up was prompted by Apple's announcement of a patent on tech that would forcibly disable cellphone cameras at specific locations and by another company called Yondr that makes pouches to hold and lock away people's phones during shows.
Now the results of our (relatively unscientific) poll are in and they surprised us.
A slight majority said they're fine if their phone's camera is disabled (52 percent, to 48 percent who objected). And another slight majority (51 to 49 percent) said they're okay locking their phones away in a pouch that automatically locks shut while in a concert venue. By a wide, two-to-one margin, respondents further said they'd still go see a show even if they knew their camera phone would be locked up or disabled, though some said it depends on the show. Only 51 percent of respondents said they even want to take photos or videos at shows.
On this +1 edition of All Songs Considered, host Bob Boilen and I talk about the poll results and weigh in on the debate with our own arguments for and against granting people full access to their phones during concerts. You can listen to the discussion with the link above and read selected comments from listeners below.
"It's important for me to have my phone at concerts and similar events because it's my right to capture memories, especially those I'm paying for. Not only that, but in light of recent tragedies, it's also imperative that we all have access to recording technologies in any situation for safety reasons." --Carissa
"I am not worried about concerts. If forbidden, I won't take photos. I am concerned that the technology could be used in many other venues to block filming, which could reduce filming of crimes and other events that should not be blocked. I do not want this technology on my phone and if Apple makes it available on an iPhone, I would probably switch my phone immediately and leave Apple." --Sam
"Having my phone at a concert is immaterial to the question. The problem is the entitlement and arrogance of performers thinking they have a right to interfere with and modify my personal property for their comfort or monetary gain. Rights holders already have legal remedies, up to and including DMCA take down requests (which are strongly weighted in the claimant's favor), against rights violators. This isn't an issue of safety, like banning weapons, or national security, so there is no justification for invading the privacy and property of people." --Silas
"I'm sick of living through concerts through my phone, for feeling compelled to take photos I will never look at again, and the general "pics or it didn't happen" nature of our social media culture. Live in the moment of the concert, you don't need to share how you're having a good time with your Twitter followers." --Jackson
"With current ticket prices, I feel I have the right to document my experience. Just paid $400 per ticket for 2nd row seats for Paul Simon. Why pay up to sit that close and not take a picture? I try to be considerate of others, and don't take video, which may infringe on the artist's right to protect their performance. Plus I've always enjoyed taking pictures of whatever I'm doing. Is it the picture taking or posting to social media that an artist may object to?" --Kevin
"While I've enjoyed taking photos of shows in the past, I'd give it up in a heartbeat if I never had to see some jerk checking his Facebook for two hours, shining his bright LED screen right in my face the whole time. It's so rude! Ban phones and the truly important can pay the bands to play their private islands. Or get themselves a pager. I have shushed people talking through shows for years, but this problem is too big for me to solve alone." --Elizabeth
"While I find it super annoying and distracting if the person in front of me at a show is watching the entire concert through their phone screen, I think it's their right to have their phone at a show. I also think it's total bulls*** that an artist would make it a mandatory to not allow phones. It's earned media and why wouldn't an artist want that!? I follow numerous music blogs (including Bob) on Instagram and I love seeing what shows people are at. It influences the music I listen to and concerts I attend. To me, that is worth it to the artist. They need to get off their high horse and let the fans have fun!" --Adrianne
"I'd rather enjoy and absorb the music and performance than make sure all my 'friends' are informed I'm cool enough to be attending a show. My view and focus have been obstructed and distracted countless times by fellow audience members and I'm over it. Finally, it's just disrespectful to the artists and musicians." --Kelsey