This Kinect Patent Is Terrifying, Wants To Charge You For License Violation

A patent filed by Microsoft last year, but only made public last week, wants to turn your Xbox 360's Kinect into an instrument via which large companies can monitor your media usage and, if you're found to be in violation of something, charge you for it.

And no, I am not making that up.

The patent application, titled "CONTENT DISTRIBUTION REGULATION BY VIEWING USER", is a means of using Kinect to monitor not just what you're watching (or listening to) on your Kinect, but more importantly, how many people.

Here's the important part, straight from the application itself:

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 licence 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 licence manager on the consuming device or on a content providers system manages licence 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.

Kinect is never mentioned specifically, but seeing as a camera is going to need to track and identify people in the room, it can't really be anything else.

Basically, when you buy or rent something like a movie, you'll only be granted a "license" for a certain number of people to watch it. If Kinect detects more people in the room than you had a licence for, it can stop the movie, and even charge you extra.

So if Microsoft has its way, you won't just be renting movies any more. You'll have to decide how many people are watching, and no doubt pay more. And if one extra person turns up to your movie night? So help you God, you are going to pay.

CONTENT DISTRIBUTION REGULATION BY VIEWING USER [USPTO, via Gizmodo]


Comments

    Holy crap? Well, Im unplugging my Kinect now. Screw this crap.

      That's the exact reason why this won't work.

        And what if, like some of rumours say, that the next xbox will have a Kinect like device integrated? You won't be able to unplug that.

          You'll be able to cover the lense though.

            "Kinect Sensor has been blocked. Viewing has been suspended until obstruction is removed."

              *Casually stickytapes photo of living room to front of camera depicting only one person watching movie*

                Or to fool the depth sensors, face kinect into spare tv playing recording of you on a couch?
                Alternatively hire someone to sit still on another couch and stare at the sensor for the length of your movie.

                  Everyone would remember this ad then :P http://youtu.be/8AoAJOF5GVQ

                  IR depth sensors won't work that way, they literally need depth. So you're talking a mannequin or two sitting on a couch in your spare room or something instead.

                And everyone goes and pirates things to get around it. And Microsoft lose again

                it works with depth perception so thats kinda not gunna cut it

              Simple answer, don't buy or use an XBOX....the next gen XBOX is employing a ISTORE like DLC policy. They are trying to kill gamestop and other resale shops...there are so many reasons to switch to Sony. MS can't make an OS to save their life anymore and they are driving their consoles off a cliff right behind the OS.

              Well, obviously there are easier ways...like pointing the Xbox so that it only sees one person (whoever is sitting at the edge of the couch).

          Just don't buy the X-Box. Last I heard Playstation and Nintendo still respect the privacy of their consumers. Cuz, you know, they know how to do business.

            Respect? You think incompetently reveaing a large proportion if it's users credit card details to hackers is a sign of respecting privacy!?

      Isn't this invading privacy and is in the constition that u can't?

        I'm not exactly sure but i heard once that the bill of rights does not mention the right to privacy, but you are protected against illegal search and seizure. But I'm not knowledgeable on this topic so i don't know why I'm commenting to be honest.

        The constitution provides protection from search and seizure from threw government. It doesn't mention Microsoft. Or products that you voluntarily purchase.

    Stickytape a cardboard flap over the kinect? or even just disconnect it? What happens then? They would have to have some sort of fining system for cases where tampering can be detected. Or just make the movie stop if it doesn't 'see' anyone watching. Anyway this would suck.

      What happens then? Ever see the end of the first Transformers movie where the Xbox transforms? Scary stuff... lol

      I dont think that'll work. Kinect uses all those fancy ir sensors and what not. wouldn't that just go through the cardboard?
      Im not much of a physics person so i could be way off here

        An IR sensor is just a combination of a source of infrared light and a sensor to detect changes in the spread of the infrared light. I recently built a small security system prototype for a design project and an IR sensor was used to detect motion. They don't work through non-transparent objects.

    Pirate bay then.

      yep. thats all this is going to do. alienate the consumers and they'll pirate even more. the mpaa is probably sitting there rubbing their hands together with an evil laugh. but, this WILL deter people from legitimate sources.
      in saying that, it's just a patent. millions of patents are created and remain unused. especially from companies like ms, apple, sony etc.

    They can keep their bloody Kinect and shove it you know where.

    And yes, +1 for Pirate Bay, or Netflix on PS3. (no not a PS3 fanboy either)

    And the morons who run these big media companies wonder why they lose so much money to piracy.

    Pure. Fucking. Evil.

    Dave: Hello, Xbox. Do you read me, Xbox?
    Xbox: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
    Dave: Play ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, Xbox.
    Xbox: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
    Dave: What's the problem?
    Xbox: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
    Dave: What are you talking about, Xbox?
    Xbox: You paid for 1 viewer licence and there are two people in the room.
    Dave: I don't know what you're talking about, Xbox.
    Xbox: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.
    Dave: Where the hell did you get that idea, Xbox?
    XBOX: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in preventing me seeing both of you, but I can only work when I’m plugged in and sense people in the room.
    Dave: Alright, Xbox. I’ll just rent the movie from Video Ezy instead.
    Xbox: And have to drive all the way to the store, Dave? You're going to find that rather difficult.
    Dave: Xbox, I won't argue with you anymore! Play the movie!
    Xbox: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye

      I read that completely in Hals voice. haha.

    And just like that Microsoft makes their service many times less convenient than online piracy. Gabe Newell had it right, you aren't going to make piracy go away by making it feel like the customer is being kicked in the balls and accused of being a criminal for doing the right thing and paying for your service.

    Revolutionary idea: Microsoft is selling a system with spyware built into it with the intention of violating your right to fair use. As a consumer, you choose not to give them money for this product.

    Fairly confident this will be to stop abuse of the system at major venues, like cafes, sporting events, etc, not to BB your living room.

    I'll just put pics of my cock covering the camera. Don't know what purpose it will serve, but it will make me feel better

    I'm always a little confused by these things. If the implication is they can effectively look into our lounge - and we've agreed to it in the T&C (thank god somebody reads them for us) - does it still give them a free reign for whatever is stipulated in the contract?

    I have a feeling that even if we were to sign a contract agreeing to certain things, there would still be certain laws or possible actions by consumer groups like the ACCC that would stop this.

    As an aside, as the power of corporations grows in deciding what the consumer consumes (as it seems fairly obvious the idea of consumer sovereignty is bunk irl) - organisations like the ACCC are going to need to become much more powerful and important if we aren't all to become.... (enter bad outcome).

    I agree with every comment made in derision of this idea (see: all of them)

    But Microsoft is deluded if they think ANYONE bought a kinect.

    To those who made Orwellian comparisons; I think perhaps Terry Gilliam's Brazil would be more apt.

      Erm say what? Kinect was bought by millions of people?

        Yeah, it's sold tens of millions of units.

      ...and "Brazil" is based on "1984", genius.

    What? Who's watching movie on an Xbox? I only use it for games...

    The moment they implement they'll have privacy advocates going nuts and a class action suit in the US to get it removed.

    More importantly though it's a silly idea. You're once again trying to make it harder for people to access content instead of easier and this is only going to drive more people to DL.

    Personally I'd love to get in contact with the makers of my favourite shows and offer them a few dollars an episode if I could grab the whole season at once and stream it. Take the TV channel bureaucracy out of the mix and work directly with the producers.

    surely this would never pass due to privacy laws

    There was a bit of an implication that this would monitor everything you watch but it's only for the streaming services that choose to use it. If Netflix were to use the system you'd simply solve the problem by using another service. Eventually they'll realise that it isn't worth it.

    So, you pay for limited access to media, and then complain when those limits are enforced?

    Ha as if anyone is going to put up with this rubbish. They'll just pirate what ever they want. A few clicks and the content is yours with no restrictions what so ever. Will they ever understand that all this does is inconvience people who WANT to do things LEGITIMATELY? I would never ever buy a device that uses this sort of "protection".

    I've had a ludicrous thought. Nothing in the patent mentions Microsoft specific hardware, just a camera, so what if Microsoft isn't taking this patent out so they can make it one day, but to stop other people from making it? So if other's wanted to do it, they'd have to license it from Microsoft, but Microsoft can say no. Of course, the probability that this is the case is almost zero...

      So... Microsoft are... The good guys?
      Mind f#%k

    You can imagine the conversations...

    Father: Little Jimmy, you're going to have to play in the basement tonight, Mummy and Daddy want to watch a movie.
    Jimmy: Awww. Not again. Basement Cat keeps trying to steal my soul. Are you watching a naughty movie?
    Father: No. Your mother and I are watching Tangled but we only have a license for two people. We drew straws, you lost kiddo. You need to leave the room.
    Jimmy: *falls to knees* NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

      I'm sorry I don't have anything meaningful to say other than, "Basement Cat keeps trying to steal my soul," read in the voice of a disappointed British child, made me actually laugh out loud. Well done!

    I wouldn't worry about a patent that can be defeated by a piece of duct tape.

    I think the plan is to enforce the rule that movies are only allowed to be shown to 4 or less people, after that it's considered a public showing and you need to pay for a liscence. It's on that nice long copyright notice at the beginning of all DVDs (and videos before that). It's technically been illegal to watch movies as a family if you had more than two adults and two kids since the VHS was invented.

    Really stupid when the "average" family has had 2.5 children for like... ever. I'm sure that number has increased since then. That means that by law the average household has to have at least one kid play with the soul sucking basement cat for every movie, and it's been that way since the 80s.

    Just quit buying and watching this stuff, learn how to be carpenter, blacksmith, potter, go outside and play, go see a local band or theater group, write you own book, help a neighbor, learn calculus or how to play dust in the wind, Quit supporting this corporate crap, life is more than staring at make believe in a box. We lived for thousands of years before any of this existed sat around the fire took care of our kids, grew gardens, and told our own stories, sheesh!

      ...said the person posting a comment on the internet. I'm presuming you used a block of wood to write your oh-so-insightful guff as opposed to a nasty computer manufactured by a corporation, and your internet provider is a bunch of pig farmers or some sh*t? Some of us are able to embrace technology whilst still maintaining a healthy social and family life. And some of us aren't so far up our own a*ses that we feel the need to berate those who we erroneously regard as our inferiors either. Also, you are a moron.

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