Copyright Industry Madness Takes Six Years To Catch Up With The Worst Satire Of It

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.

Mashable writes;

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.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. jimbo

    to me, the obvious way out is to never buy anything from the movie industries again, starting from now. let them find out what it’s really like to be on the receiving end of consumer wrath and that the protests over ACTA were just a taster! the worrying thing is, how much the public put up with before they realise what they are losing, what is being taken away, all in the name of control and profit. by the time the people have woken up, it’s too late. the changes have been implemented, we have lost God know’s how much more and IT AINT COMIN’ BACK!!

    1. Anonymous

      I agree with all that minus the god part. Well said.

      1. god


    2. Lauri

      I already boycot movies and music (and pirate everything I want). Meanwhile, I’m throwing money at the gaming industry on platforms like Steam and GOG.

      1. steelneck

        @Lauri: Pirating music and movies is not a boycott. Please just stop, you do not need to look at it, most of it is just disguised propaganda anyway. And please, the gaming industry is no different, in most cases it is even worse. Stop voting for them with your behaviour or your wallet. Just stop, get a life.

        1. Mike

          The futility of your comment is overwhelming. Could you feel it as you typed? Ending your comment with an insult was a nice touch, too. It’s almost as if you believe ending a list of unrealistic demands with such an insult would increase the likelihood Lauri would obey you.

        2. Ismo

          Even with the danger of not contributing to the thread I have to agree 100% with Mike here. And actually, Steam is way better than many alternatives such as the infamous EA games crapplatform they used to for ex. deny Mass Effect 3 from anyone who doesn´t consent to their licence agreements when using their own platform.

      2. Libreman

        I’m doing the same, I haven’t been to the movie theathe for ages, refusing offers from my friends to go with the disclaimer that I’m not donating to this madness any more.

        I’ve been “donating” to the Huble Indie Bundle guys, some Free Software projects and Kickstarters instead – we need to support the new libre economy 😉

        Just stopping to participate in the culture overal as steelneck is suggesting is not only unrealistic but also would not work, we need to start to *speand* money on the economy we want to see …

      3. Alex

        Pirating is not boycotting. If you enjoy someone’s work you oughta pay for it.
        That’s the kind of pirating they’re complaining about in those piracy warnings in movies and such.
        They are very very right about that if someone works hard to produce something and someone else just exclaims that it should be free and therefore pirates it it’s very frustrating and unfair.

        What I completely understand and I think anyone understands is pirating to get rid of DRM measures or simply trying something out (aside from MPAA/RIAA of course).
        DRM is a bitch to be dealt with and articles like the one above here illustrates exactly why. But if you want to boycot, boycot. Pirating is not boycotting. If you’re going to pirate everything just because you don’t agree with the people who made it you’re no better than them, and you only give them numbers and reason to step up their game instead of backing off.

        1. Alan

          “If you enjoy someone’s work you oughta pay for it.”

          And if you don’t, you should be able to get your money back.

    3. Lauri

      I already boycott movies and music (and pirate everything that I want). Meanwhile I throw money at the gaming industry on platforms like Steam and GOG.

      1. Michael

        Pirating is not boycotting.

        1. harveyed

          You are right that piracy is not the same as boycotting. Piracy is more like free commercials for the services to create new work. The only thing that still has any value is the “new work” part. Which is good since innovation and creativity is not at all bolstered by having “rights” to sit on ‘yer arse and get money from your (or someone elses) old accomplishments.

    4. 6.914

      People, en masse, tend to prefer present convenience to future freedom (“morally sound, humane working conditions” consistently loses to “cheap, made in china” in popular consumption patterns). Even if you build a small subculture around a Hollywood boycott, it is likely to remain a subculture within a greater culture which consumes its entertainment by any rules it is dictated. Besides, those that do participate in the boycott won’t show up in rights holders’ data as “sales lost to industry policies” (and how are they supposed to tell which policies in particular are the problem?). They’ll show up as “sales lost to consumer piracy”.

      Change usually demands political clout. The real resources here are votes, dollars, lobbies and protests. If you want to make a difference, campaign for donations to EFF or a similar organization. If no satisfactory org exists, create it.

    5. Cyclop

      Now being one-eyed, I think it is only fair for me and my kind to demand refund or discount to account for the reduced experience I get.

      I think it will be similarly fair to get such discounts for the hard hearing the amputees (you know, no hand gestures) and even for illiterate people for missing on jokes and missing the point.

      Lastly, tired people who fall asleep during the performance do deserve a break, not just the regular refund for eye blink periods.

      Just saying…

    6. Karellen

      Good luck with that.

      I tried it when DVDs came out, in protest over region coding and CSS. I wrote a few blog posts (now consigned to the great /dev/null in the sky due to moving hosting providers), gently informed my friends what I was doing, and why, and why I thought they should boycott too.

      As history shows, 5 years after DVDs came out my protest made a real difference. The major movie production studios all went bankrupt, and the indies that arose in their place scrapped the idea and instituted sane copyright protection policies.

      Sorry, my mistake. 5 years after DVDs came out, my protest had done fuck all except deprive me of watching some really cool movies that all my friends had seen and I had not.

      Hey, if you can do better than me (which you’ll manage if you can convince one other person you know to boycott movies too) then I wish you luck. If you can start a movement, that would be awesome. If you can hit the studios in their balancesheet, that would be totally fucking legendary. But really, most people just don’t give a shit. Don’t get your hopes up too high.

      (What, bitter, me? What fucking gave you that idea? :-/ )

    7. pauly jansen

      there’s no apostrphe in ‘knows’.

      yer welcome.

  2. Muramasa

    It is coming back. We have Linux, we have our brains.

    1. Bombfish

      Precisely what I was just thinking. 🙂

  3. Llarian

    Rick, I disagree with your obvious next step. Of course, yes, face recognition – but not to see if the licensee is in the room, but to recognize ALL who attend and charge them. As in: “Play a movie on your party? Wait, let me check if I have enough money in my account to attend.”

    1. harveyed

      Would be pretty difficult with halloween parties. Face detection is difficult enough as it is, not much easier if people have zombie gore all over them or a 80s style hockey haircut.

      1. dhimes

        Not to mention billing errors- intentional (pranks/revenge) or unintentional mistaken identities by the billing software.

        1. Even G

          Who cares though? They should have thought of that before trying to have a normal, social life.

  4. Matt

    This is utter madness….

  5. SBJ

    How happy I am that I never got an X-box, or PS or anything of that crap 😀

    1. anon

      Ditto – infinity 😀

  6. Anon

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the MPAA now sue Microsoft for breeching copyright for patenting their idea.

  7. Max Pont

    Ha Ha Ha. This is “Prior Art”. If the idea has been published before the patent application date it could be successfully challenged and made void.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Haha. What a positively BEAUTIFUL observation. 🙂

    2. next_ghost

      Actually, this is the kind of patent that should last forever and end up in the portfolio of some patent troll that doesn’t sell any licences ever but sues anybody who tries to actually use anything covered by one of their patents.

      1. Rick Falkvinge

        Yup, I noted the same thing. While I am adamantly opposed to patent monopolies in general, and vehemently to software patent monopolies in particular, the idea of monitoring people in realtime and reporting it to the copyright industry is something I’d like to have locked up and forgotten behind any kind of mechanism – legal red tape is as good a mechanism as any.

        If this patent monopoly is invalidated, it would just mean that the copyright industry saw one less obstacle in deploying this.

        1. Vidyut

          Taking this idea forward, a brilliant strategy for pirates would be to write a lot of futuristic science fiction – think of it as community service. Doesn’t even have to be good. Just make an obscure blog for the craziness (you may not want to own this nonsense publicly :p)

          You never know when it comes in handy. You could save world knowledge one day…

    3. Doc

      It may sound funny, but there is actually case law behind this….waterbeds were never patentable because RA Heinlein described the technology long before they became a reality.

      1. Max Pont

        One more reason to support Science Fiction. If you come up with an idea, be as imaginative as possible and write up a short story and have it published ASAP.

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  10. JK

    Copyright-side aside, it shudders me to think what this means for privacy (or lack of) of you own home.

  11. Shnitzuka

    Couldn’t people just disconnect their kinects? This would be a lot more worrisome if monitors and TV screens and dvd players all had cameras built in. Which of course may be the case sometime soon.

    1. Johnie

      “Please plug in your Kinect and wave at the camera in order to play this movie.”

      1. harveyed

        Which would probably just create demand for a new IT “industry” of jailbreaking these devices.

    2. harveyed

      Well. It could sure create a whole new culture amongst young people of “jalibreaking” / hacking those systems. Not only traditional IT “businesses” will get a boost on the behalf of the “content” industries craze, but also new ones.. 🙂

      Would be hilarious to hack the system and add everyone’s good friend Mollgan to the party. =)

    3. Lol

      Or simply use a dvdplayer or bluray player.. save the game consoles for games ?

      1. MPAA

        “Sorry, we don’t publish any movie made after year 2014 in obsolete formats like DVD or BluRay. Please buy a modern KinectRay player to enjoy our newest catalog in WONDERFUL UltraHD!”

    4. Emil Kirkegaard

      There’s an easy solution for that: don’t have kinect/recorder plugged in and working? Can’t connect to playstation network/whatever. Only needs a little edit to the EULA.

  12. Ano Nymous

    This is horrible! However it is not unexpected.

    We NEED the Pirate Party, and that fast. There are already way too many restrictive laws, and as we know, laws are very rarely removed when they once have been written. If this technology is mandated by law there is not just that problem, but also that even if the law is removed later, the machines that was made while the law was in effect still will have the function. That would mean unnecessary e-waste, and possibly completely inaccessible movies and games.

  13. Pieter

    Among the older population, piracy is probably less prevalent than in the younger population, and the expectation of privacy in your own home is probably also much more important to the older generation. So ironically, if this were implemented, it could well be a brilliant way to get the older generation interested in the issues of the Pirate Party.

    The content monopolies are currently engaged in a massive overreach that will come back to haunt them. My only worry is that we will lose many civil liberties in the process, which are notoriously hard to get back.

  14. deadmau5

    So black friends become preferable:

  15. Epicene Cyborg

    […] Copyright Industry Madness Takes Six Years To Catch Up With The Worst Satire Of It. […]

  16. diego

    Can I just leave a picture of me in front of the kinects’s camera to prove that only one person watching?
    I really don’t know how this stuff works.

    1. me

      You can’t. It works in infrared.

  17. John

    The issue of showing a movie to an audience that includes viewers who have not paid for the movie is easily rectified. In the future I foresee a low power laser device, similar to but not as blinding as the one at supermarket check out lanes, that can scan bar codes on the foreheads or the hands of the viewers. These bar codes will be world bank account numbers, you’ll generally need them any time you buy or sell. By scanning everyone in the room, a reasonable fee, say $3, can be charged to those who have not previously viewed the movie. This technology will also eliminate queues at most movie theatres, shops, and transport terminals and speed along your daily life. Everyone will want it; some privacy nuts and luddites will complain but they always do.

    I had a pretty wild dream about this stuff a long time ago, I am afraid the patent has expired.

    You can read about it here:

    1. Ano Nymous

      This is reality we’re talking about, not fairy tales. Citing fairy tales and attempting to show correlation with reality, correlation that is weak at best, only diminishes the will to do anything about it in those who believe said tales, and diminishes the understanding of reality in those who don’t.

      In plain english: Christians don’t think it’s possible to change, so they don’t even try. Atheists are more likely to dismiss the emerging surveillance society and the associated risks together with the bible.

      1. Jt

        So, dystopian analogies of possible copyright monopoly expansions are valid until they are predicted by the Bible? Come on, this is not that far of a stretch from what Microsoft is doing with the Kinect. If you want a movement to be successful, that means having a unified effort, which is probably not helped by calling the book that over 2 billion people base their morals and lifestyles on a “fairy tale.” Any resistance to such measures as Microsoft is taking must be a unified movement.
        I’m not sure what you’re even saying here. Christians don’t want to change (as in change in favor of copyright monopolies?) and atheists won’t recognize the surveillance society until they’re living in it? Where does that leave the people who DO recognize the gradual erosion of privacy in our daily lives?

  18. Cyclop

    Being one-eyed, I think it is only fair for me and my kind to demand refund or discount to account for the reduced experience I get.

    I think it will be similarly fair to get such discounts for the hard hearing the amputees (you know, no hand gestures) and even for illiterate people for missing on jokes and missing the point.

    Lastly, tired people who fall asleep during the performance do deserve a break, not just the regular refund for eye blink periods.

    Just saying…

    1. pauly jansen


  19. […] Copyright Industry Madness Takes Six Years To Catch Up With The Worst Satire Of It – Falkvinge… […]

  20. […] Falkvinge has amusingly pointed out that “prior art” exists for this “Content Distribution Regulator&#8221… — in the form of a satirical piece published at BBspot (and covered here years ago, noting […]

  21. Sassinak

    I’m gonna be sick. Big Brother is counting heads in your living room.
    Watch out for “Sodomy Laws”.

  22. Sassinake

    “And how many people will share this birthday cake, sir ?”
    – Well, counting all the kids, 11. Why ?
    – You’re buying a cake for 10 people, sir. I’ll have to charge you a surtax for that extra person….”

    1. harveyed

      Actually it’s even sicker than that, it is more like

      “How can I trust you that you are actually 11 people… you’d better invite our ‘inspector’ to the party for confirmation, or you can’t have any cake…”

  23. […] The copyright industry is getting a real problem. There’s no denying in that. With things like DRM that goes so far that they’ll count the amount of people watching a movie and basing the … I think pretty much every sane person left will agree that things are being taken way way WAY too […]

  24. albe a valuable citizen

    is this like throttling , the media owns a TV station that ads are paying for eyeballs to view,then do not want the same images/film to be available on without ads , so the ISP if controlled by the media parent can do so, bad corporate presence of malice, bad faith by not telling or telling so quickly that no one notes it as a casual viewer . only lawyers need apply.

  25. katumba

    This is only a patent application, so we can relax about it, it will probably take another 3 years to business 😉
    Also, the satire might destroy novelty or inventive step of the patent desire 😀

Comments are closed.