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A patent application filed by Microsoft back in April 2011, but made public just last week, shows signs that DRM (digital rights management) may only be getting worse — not better. The patent which is titled, “Content Distribution Regulation By Viewing User,” is actually just as scary as it sounds.

In short, customers who have a Kinect can be monitored to ensure they are abiding by the licensing agreement for the content they are viewing. An example scenario may play out something like this, you rent or buy a movie/TV show, the Kinect notices you have more people in the room than the license allows and it stops the movie/TV show or maybe even charges you an additional fee. Talk about big brother.

And no, I’m not making this up. The abstract of the patent application reads as such:

A content presentation system and method allowing content providers to regulate the presentation of content on a per-user-view basis. Content is distributed an associated license option on the number of individual consumers or viewers allowed to consume 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.

Deeper into the application, you’ll see more evidence of this type of monitoring too. Under Summary [0003], it talks more in depth about the types of limitations that could be imposed, including the number of simultaneous viewers and even limiting viewing content by a users identity or age.

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.

And here I am thinking DRM was on its way out the door. Silly me.


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