I poked around over at Lawrence Lessig’s blog today, where he talks about an in-going line at a Black-Eyed Peas concert getting perturbed because they weren’t allowing people to attend the concert while carrying cell phones with cameras. This is just another instance of laws/rules working too preventatively, resulting in less satisfaction by the people that the rules govern.

The concert was sponsored by the RIAA, which is probably why it makes a bigger stink for Lessig than other concerts might have, but he does indicate that this policy is in effect at other venues as well. The premise of the ban is that if people are allowed to take cameras into the venue, they will take pictures of the band. Since the band’s image is the property of the label, the label is losing money if that person is able to obtain their own photos rather than buying the concert posters, or worse, if they sell their personal photos on eBay.

The solution seems very simple to me: Allow people to enter the concert with camera-phones. If they take a picture of a band and that’s against the venue’s policy, eject them.

There are plenty of legitimate uses for such a device inside a concert hall. For example, making or receiving phone calls. This is similar to using phones in movie theaters.

As I have discussed with many people, there are som people who could simply not have a life outside of the house without the cell-phone tether. I guess people who don’t like cell-phones in the theaters and can live without them would support a policy that bans or blocks cell-phones from a theater. But that isn’t the best option, in my opinion.

There should be consequences for using phones inappropriately during movies. What ever happened to movie ushers? If the movie house clearly issued a policy regarding cell-phone use in the theater, such as, “You will be asked to leave if you or your phone disturbs other patrons,” and then provided other patrons an easy way to report infractions (or even better, provide monitors in the theather), I don’t think there would be as much of a problem. In fact, if the theater tied their enforcement of their cell-phone policy to customer satisfaction, I think there would be a swift drop in customers irritated by phone users.

Of all of the times I’ve been to the movies, I can only recall being disturbed by a cell-phone user twice. Once, there was just a guy who didn’t get it, and answered his loudly ringing phone with a loud voice. The other time, a teener sitting in front of me had her phone flipped open texting through the bulk of the film. It wasn’t noisy, but the light of the phone screen was distracting. But either of these situations could easily have been dealt with by notifying an usher and sending them out of the theater.

The same policy is good for music venues, I think. Feel free to take pictures of your friends during the concert. It’s possibly something that you’ll want to remember. But no flash. Don’t disturb the other guests. If your camera can’t take pictures without the flash, then don’t take pictures at all. Expect that you’ll be thrown out when your flash goes off, especially if it’s pointed toward the stage, where it could distract the band and ruin the show, or violate some strange agreement the band has made with its label on your behalf.

A little courtesy goes a long way with these things. We’re not denizens of the more good-mannered 50’s, where people seemed to breed good manners because it was the only way people could get along with each other without strangling everyone. The phone companies should publish etiquette guides for distribution with their phones, and the place of enforcement against uncouth activities certainly needs to be better determined.