Digital Rights Management comes in a number of forms. It can limit your ability to copy or distribute a file or media, restrict your access to a certain period of time, or limit the number of views or times you can access the data. Microsoft Corporation's latest patent application may add another option to that list: views per user.
The patent application describes a content presentation system and method that enables content providers to regulate content presentation based on user views rather than only on time or device. The content provider may limit access to the content in a number of ways:
A device needs to be present that enables the monitoring of users accessing the contents to make sure that the number of users viewing the content does not exceed the licensed content. This may mean devices that monitor a room to determine the number of users in it. Two images included with the patent application depict a living room where a webcam and Microsoft Kinect are used to monitor the number of users that are accessing the contents.
The Summary clearly states the following:
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.
The patent application clearly highlights that this is consumer related, not something that you may expect to see in bars, public viewing or other locations where large numbers of people gather to consume media. It may be the next step in a system - using licensing - that is favoring content creators over consumers. Instead of just providing consumers with a license of a digital product, a game, music or video, content creators can now go a step further and limit the content to individual users.
Maybe you will have different options when you buy digital goods online, so that you need to decide whether you want to buy a one user license, a two user license or a family license. It could also be used to block the media if the system detects a group of people in the room to block "unauthorized" public viewings.
The big question though is if consumers are willed to be tracked when they consume media and whether they are willed to pay more money for multi-user licenses.. I can only speak for myself, but I do not. I won't be using a system that tracks me in my own home, nor will I make a purchase that is limiting the content to a certain number of users or views. I rather do without any of that before I willingly let someone else monitor me and my family.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.