Microsoft’s Patent Uses Camera To Police Entertainment Content Licenses

Microsoft has apparently filed for a patent that uses a camera device to determine how many people are watching a given piece of entertainment to make sure the consumer isn't abusing the license they purchased… The patent the company has filed for is titled "Content Distribution Regulation by Viewing User" and allows content providers to "regulate the presentation of content on a per-user-view basis."

Here is a deeper, more alarming description of the patent:

"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 … 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." So if you are watching a movie and you didn't buy enough licenses for it (wait, are we in a movie theater or our living rooms?? – ED.) apparently this system would stop playing the content so you could purchase more licenses.

Realistically users would simply point that camera device watching you like Big Brother in 1984 towards the flipping ceiling assuming that it isn't built into whatever device you are using – apparently the patent covers mobile devices too…

The patent isn't specifically tied to Kinect, but there is a paragraph in the patent filing about gaming consoles and a camera device:

"Environment 612, with capture device 620, may be used to recognize, analyze, and/or track human (and other types of) targets," that patent declares. "For example, a user within the display area of the display 616 [the television] may be tracked using the capture device 620 such that the gestures and/or movements of the user may be captured to determine the number of people present, whether users are viewing content and/or may be interpreted as controls that may be used to affect the application being executed by computing environment 612. Such information may also be used to determine whether the tracked user is viewing content presented by a content provider."

Source: Eurogamer. Image also via Eurogamer.

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