back to article Microsoft patents spy-TV to check you've paid for content

Microsoft has been granted a patent on a content distribution system that uses cameras built into televisions, PCs, and mobile phones to act as a "consumer detector," to enforce DRM licensing terms. "A fee can be charged for each viewer of the content for each view," Patent US20120278904 reads. "Viewers may be uniquely …


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  1. Tom 7

    I cant wait for them to get Teddy to cough up

    I do hope this is the straw that brakes the camels back.

  2. Goat Jam


    Sounds great! How much will it cost me to implement this excellent technology in my home? Please send me prices and an order form now, I can't wait to write out the cheque to get the ball rolling.

    You guys rock!

    1. dogged

      Re: Awesome!

      I really hate to put a downer on the hatefest, but I doubt if this is intended for the home. More likely, it's for venues that rent huge screens to display to paying audiences or attract audiences to raise revenues, like pubs, who already pay more.

      Not exactly lovely fluffy tech but it's never going to get anywhere your telly.

      1. Badvok

        Re: Awesome!

        "Not exactly lovely fluffy tech but it's never going to get anywhere your telly."

        You didn't notice the reference to Kinect and games consoles then?

  3. Blofeld's Cat


    Better take down that picture of the 1966 World Cup squad, put away SWMBO's doll collection and throw a cloth over the budgie's cage.

    Oh and make sure the set can't spot its own reflection in a mirror...

    1. Magani

      Re: Hmm...

      Rather than rearrange your lounge, have you thought what a blob of Bluetack over the lens might achieve?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmm...

        System alert, system alert! Attempted tempering detected! System shutdown! License revoked! Fee automatically deducted from your bank account! Insurers informed and electricity supply cut off, to make it impossible for you to leave the premises before our swat team's landed on your doorstep! Sorry for the inconvenience!

        1. Z-Eden

          Re: Hmm...

          Fine, looks like we'll have to fall back on using that old "Polaroid picture in front of the security camera" trick

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are Microsoft living on the same planet as the rest of us?

    I have a few issues with this latest "ideation" from Microsoft: one concerning Microsoft's apparent self-appointment as Sherif, policing other right's holder's content and the latter concerning personal and familiy privacy.

    So, what right over the copyrighted works of others does Microsoft have? If I buy a legitimate CD/DVD (no mention of Blu-ray in the report - Is that because Sony would sue their ar*ses, eh?) which holds copyright material from, say, Sony or Universal or any other such producer, on what way can Microsoft put themselves in the "value chain" with such producers and, of course, the purchaser (or I should say "content hirer"?) of the material?

    In the UK, BBC, ITV, SKY and other boradcasters often "pixelate" the faces of children that may occur in video or photo images they broadcast, such is the climate of fear concerning images of children. If this patented technology is used in the the UK home environment, how many privacy, potential "kiddie porn" misinterprestations are Microsoft prepared to defend?

    Be assurred, Microsoft, if I was looking for some media playback device, I would NOT go and buy such a device with camera's built in from you or anyone else that would look to licence this privacy invasion! Are Microsoft certain that they would want to activily be the violation of personal, home privacy?

    DRM - Dumb, Risky and Moronic.

    1. Badvok

      Re: Are Microsoft living on the same planet as the rest of us?

      "I have a few issues with this latest "ideation" from Microsoft: one concerning Microsoft's apparent self-appointment as Sherif, policing other right's holder's content and the latter concerning personal and familiy privacy."

      Since they will negotiate the rights and compensation for presenting that content on their devices with the right's holders I'm not sure what your issue is here.

      The way I see it working is along the lines of "Movie Rental Options: Rent movie X for solo viewing - £5, Rent movie X for family viewing (max 4 persons) - £10, Rent movie X for unlimited viewing - £50", so if you want privacy you either don't rent content via the Microsoft device and service or you select the unlimited option - simples.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The only thing that camera will see

    is a real expensive video camera and sound recording setup as it records the content on my tv screen for later viewing. Piracy will soon be an extreme sport.

    1. Crisp

      Re: The only thing that camera will see

      If the hardware doesn't detect a face watching it, then does that mean you get to watch for free?

  6. Hand1e

    Patent *application*

    The article links to an patent application, not a granted patent. It was *published* a few days ago, not granted.

  7. Fading

    Lifesize cardboard celebs anyone?

    Of course Bill Gates, the executive board at EMI and the chief exec of Paramount come round my house and watch TV. Have done for ages........

  8. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    Big Brother

    Prior Art?

    George Orwell, 1984, big brother is watching you.

    1. Miek
      Big Brother

      Re: Prior Art? 2001 Space Odyssey

      I'm afraid I can't allow you to watch that, Dave.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Prior Art?

      In Soviet Redmond, the TV watches you…

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Can't you just put a bit of tape over the lense?

    1. Arrrggghh-otron

      Re: Err

      I'll be the one buying shares in Insulation Tape PLC...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Err

      Or cover the lense in snot.

      1. Chris Parsons

        Re: Err

        Downvoted for being tasteless and puerile.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Err

          "Downvoted for being tasteless and puerile."

          Carry on doing that here and you'll be busy for at least forever.

        2. Fatman

          Re: Err...Downvoted for being tasteless and puerile.

          And you sir, DOWNVOTED for being an ID10T.

          Now, take THAT!!!

      2. Fatman

        Re: Err

        UPVOTED for ingenuity!!!

  10. Crisp

    They just wont give up will they?

    They just wont stop before they can charge you every time you even think about your favourite TV show.

  11. John Styles

    You've heard of patent trolls, this is a troll patent!


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS want to be the sheeple dog

    Ah bless, my bullshit bingo sensors are on overload, I bet there was some excited ideas man proposing "leveraging the user@base 360deg/24/7/365 or something"

    Getting blood out of the stoned.

    So glad I don't have a TV or consume such content.

  13. Miek
    Thumb Down

    "A fee can be charged for each viewer of the content for each view" -- FUCK OFF

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best reason to be a pirate if it ever came to market.

  15. MrXavia


    They really expect people to accept this?

  16. Chairo

    I see hours of entertainment ahead

    For the bad guys at least. The camera forcibly on all the time, watching every move in your living room and no way to turn it off.

    A whole new business field for bot herders. Especially if people are watching the late night program.

    I suppose they will feed the stream right back to a server.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: I see hours of entertainment ahead

      Maybe you'll be offered a free TV with no off switch or which switches on automatically when the ads show.

      For a fee, you can get with on off switch and less adverts.

      (Yes, Fifth Element)

  17. Trevor Marron

    Watching, watching, watching......

    So your girlfriend and/or wife id going to trust this device, sitting there monitoring you. Even if it is not capable of actual video capture do you think they will believe that? So no more sex on the sofa, rug, floor, table, hanging from the chandelier.

    This can not be planned as a home device, they really can not be serious.

    1. I think so I am?
      Thumb Up

      Re: Watching, watching, watching......

      Just turn the TV to face the wall !

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd be seriously worried about this

    if I were in Ku-Klux-Klan

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    remove your coats, belts and shoes

    and bend over for thorough inspection.

  20. Gritzwally Philbin

    Naughty Cinema Anyone?

    Well could be as interesting to implement as the TSA scanners that see too much..

    Seriously, the idea that a camera will be looking back at a user and only seeing a face (yeaaaaah, right!) is as honest as that line "I won't cum in your mouth, darling,.. really.." All it needs is one halfway decent hack and it's a peeping Tom's paradise.

    This one will NEVER fly except perhaps with a certain.. ummm shall we say.. 'exhibitionistic' crowd.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    The patent is designed to work with both streaming content and downloaded material stored in "RAM, ROM, EEPROM, flash memory or other memory technology, CD-ROM, DVD or other optical disk storage, magnetic cassettes, magnetic tape, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices." Redmond's patent lawyers are nothing if not thorough.

    So I can watch my (silent) Super8 films and listen to my vinyl records without issue then? Cool. :-)

  22. Red Eyes


    If I fall asleep because it's boring or I'm pissed and watch any old shite will I get a refund?

    Oh and about my identical twins...

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