Microsoft's scary licencing patent

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Kinectspy

Some time back, we pondered whether or not the motion-control peripheral sat atop your TV, Kinect, might be spying on you, which would be disastrous (for all!), because I spend most of my time gaming in my underwear. A new patent from Microsoft could start monitoring your media usage – and charge your violations of licence use.

A patent filed last year, but only made available to the public this week titled “CONTENT DISTRIBUTION REGULATION BY VIEWING USER” wants to monitor what you listen to and watch, and make sure you’re doing it within the confines of its licences.

Here’s what the patent says:

The technology, briefly described, is a content presentation system and method allowing content providers to regulate the presentation of content on a per-user-view basis.

Content is distributed to consuming devices, such as televisions, set-top boxes and digital displays, with an associated license option on the number of individual consumers or viewers allowed to consume the content. The limitation may comprise a number of user views, a number of user views over time, a number of simultaneous user views, views tied to user identities, views limited to user age or any variation or combination thereof, all tied to the number of actual content consumers allowed to view the content.

Consumers are presented with a content selection and a choice of licenses allowing consumption of the content. In one embodiment, a license manager on the consuming device or on a content providers system manages license usage and content consumption. The users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken.

Essentially, it means that if you’ve legally downloaded a movie and its associated licence says that 4 people are allowed to watch it, but you sneak in a fifth, Kinect or some other system capable of tracking users sees that, the content will stop playing, or you could be charged for that extra view.

Now of course it’s probably a patent that’s been filed for patents sake – but I don’t like it. Licences dictating how many people can consume content you buy in your very own home. I don’t like it one bit.

Last Updated: November 7, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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