Six years ago, a satire site wrote a story about how the copyright industry wanted more money if you invited friends to watch a movie in your living room. This notion has now been patented in new technology: automated headcounts coming to a living room near you, to enable new forms of restrictions. Apparently, the copyright industry takes six years to catch up with the very worst satire of it.
In November 2006, a site named BBSpot wrote a story about how the MPAA lobbied for home theater regulations, arguing that a home theater in your living room allows your friends to not buy their own DVD:
“Just because you buy a DVD to watch at home doesn’t give you the right to invite friends over to watch it too. That’s a violation of copyright and denies us the revenue that would be generated from DVD sales to your friends,” said [MPAA spokesman] Glickman.
At the time, this was a hilarious satire of the greed and creepy pushiness of the copyright industry. It felt like the famous “20 minutes into the future” – meaning just around the corner. Turns out that was right on the money; Microsoft has now filed for a patent monopoly where their Kinect device counts how many people are watching a movie, and prevents the movie from being played if too many people are watching it.
Yes, you read that right.
Microsoft has filed a patent for a technology that would let Kinect detect how many people are consuming content at a given time […] would monitor how many people are in the room when a game or piece of entertainment is being displayed and “take remedial action” if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, according to the patent application.
So be careful when you write satire about the madness and delusions of the copyright industry (and that certainly isn’t hard – more often than not, ordinary journalism will do fine). Either tread very carefully, or start a little stopwatch the next time you publish satire about what that parasitic, shameless industry will think of next.
My prediction would be on connecting face recognition to this, so that the license-purchasing person has to be verifiably present in the living room for a particular movie to play using the copyright industry’s methods. (In the meantime, assorted Asian companies sell media players that play MKV files straight off a file share without any of this bullshit.)
UPDATE: As pointed out in comment 7, this satire article six years ago may actually count as so-called prior art, invalidating Microsoft’s patent monopoly filed six years after it. The satire article even mentions the same methods and means (motion detectors) as the Microsoft filing.