Live from CES: Dumb Companies Who Lie

Joel Johnson—Not once, but multiple times this year at CES I have been told by exhibitors that photographing items on the show floor is off limits. The first time, at the Monster Cable booth, I was told by a booth jockey that there were no photos allowed unless I had a press badge (I did), despite the fact that the item I was photographing was facing the aisle through which tens of thousands of CES attendees passed.

Their rationale? The product was "not yet released."

Later I was told by Se-Kure Controls, Inc., a manufacturer of retail security devices such as ink bombs and magnetic sensors, that their products were off limits to photographers due to "security reasons." If you are a retailer, don't ever purchase products from Se-Kure, as they obviously can be compromised by anyone who can take a picture. (It is especially ironic that the company also sells miniature, concealable security cameras.)

I don't understand what these people could be thinking. They have paid thousands of dollars to display their wares to the CES attendees, yet bristle when someone tries to take a picture that would let even more people know about their product. Obviously, some companies (like Se-Kure) are there mostly to forge relationships with vendors. Their products never see a retail shelf.

But whether they like it or not, displaying their products—even on private property—makes it legal for anyone to take photos. CEA (Consumer Electronics Association, the organization running CES) may request that the person be removed from the show for, I don't know, upsetting exhibitors or something, but as far as I understand the law, there's nothing they can do to legally prevent anyone on the show floor from taking pictures.

CEA needs to make these companies come correct. Displaying something on the show floor? Then it's kosher to take a photo—and ridiculous to try to scare others into thinking otherwise.