Apple’s Orwellian Censorship Patent


Earlier today it was brought to TMV’s attention that Apple is developing software that is capable of sensing when someone is trying to record a live event and then switching off the devices camera. It has been suggested that this move by Apple has been motivated by Broadcasters who are upset that punters are able to post their own footage of events on YouTube, despite broadcasters having paid high cash amounts for the exclusive rights to film these events.

Whatever the case may be. TMV assert it is morally wrong to restrict consumers with such a technology if they have already paid an extortionate price for an Apple product, which is the case the world over. Furthermore, one would have thought when it comes to Apple products the fact the iPhone is always behind the curve when it comes to both video and camera specifications in smart phones, the pathetic video and photo quality would be enough to deter consumers from filming events as it is. Any content recorded on an iPhone is far from broadcast quality…

It’s not just an Orwellian tool according to Cnet, as they reported that it could also be used to the benefit of museum visitors. “Imagine infrared transmitters next to a museum exhibit that communicates information about displays or points to a related video online”.

The website, which is dedicated to examining all of Apple’s patent applications, has produced an in-depth analysis of the patent.

Let’s face it; consumers are the people in the driving seat in terms of content consumption. The digital age has delivered this. The fact content owners whether that be for film, games or music are still stuck in the old 20th century game of restricting access just outlines how backward they really are. Concert and theatre ticket prices have sky rocketed over the last decade and why should a fan not have the right to take photos for their own personal use?

If social media sites are facilitating the viral spread of such videos and photos then work out how to monetise it instead of suing or restricting the consumer. Perhaps negotiate deals with the social networks, as they are the ones who make money out of this footage not the consumers themselves.

The message from TMV is STOP-chasing consumers and instead, actually make a concerted effort to prevent the facilitators that enable content copyright infringement, both legal and illegal. Government’s and society in general are behind you on this. However, nobody except content owners advocate suing their own consumers. Until content owners realise their current direction is not working, they will all continue to be behind the times of technology and methods they can use to monetise the manner in which consumers are currently consuming content.

If Facebook or YouTube, are allowing their consumers to upload what you as a content owner consider to be infringing your copyrights then go after these social networks, as they are the ones making money out of users uploading the content. The average Joe who uploads their content for their friends to view do not see a cent from Facebook or YouTube’s advertising, which is reliant on their users uploading such content.

On a final note if content owners are so worried about people using their smart phone’s to record live events then they should be more worried about HTC and Samsung who are always ahead of the pack in terms of photo and video quality within their devices. Since the release of the iPhone, Apple has consistently been two or more years BEHIND THE CURVE in terms of providing its devices with bleeding edge camera or video quality and functionality!


Jakomi Mathews – Founder & Editor, The Music Void

Discussion11 Comments

  1. This technology would only be cost effective when used for the very biggest and most expensive concerts. And only when a broadcaster has paid for the rights.

    I think it would create a backlash from fans who are already paying well over $100 for tickets and see filming as part of the ticket price.

    The quality is rubbish and the length of time they film for is limited.

    I think the Orwellian nature is far more frightening when this technology is applied to something which actually matters, like civil rights abuse, images from civil unrest etc..

  2. Jonathan Rivers

    Having to respect an artist’s vision is “Orwellian”, but brainwashing people to use Facebook is just “reality”?

  3. Leave Orwell out of this

    Thank you Apple for taking care of us. The rest of the “tech industry” (as you like to be called), have fun while your economic bubble is still here. You do know it will eventually collapse, no?

  4. Jeff I believe you have misinterpreted the context this service would be used in. Apple through its extensive music and video libraries has copyright information on vast quantities of content. thus by simple content recognition software the company would be able to determine if you were attempting to record a copyrighted performance and then act accordingly. the company would also be able to establish a network where copyright holders could post information regarding the copyright of performances or use public information to establish its own network. this type of potential software is what i believe continues to push users away from Apple products and towards Google products. the rapidly escalating copyright battle between the two companies is clearly evident in the release of Apple’s iCloud music locker and the non-release of Google’s music locker. Google wants to further the free revolution and the expansion of user generated creative content, while Apple sides with the record companies, holding onto 20th century notions of profitability and suing users into submission.

  5. I don’t believe this story. If someone is filming a live a event – which is all events that one could film – then it shuts down? So i film my son playing the phone shuts down recording? If I film my friend’s band rehearsing in the basement – my phone shuts down? If this is true the Blackberry Playbook sales will skyrocket.
    It does not seem like it is in keeping with Apple’s general business. That would be like them developing software to detect illegally downloaded files and not have them play on ipods. In fact that is the opposite of what they did. They provided a place to store and listen to those files. There is no real source mentioned here. I would like to know more.

  6. Scott Whitfield

    Hi, Jakomi-

    You are SO right!! Thanks for your reply, and cheers to you!

    Have a great day!

  7. A performer can make a living. But the age of a large tier of performers getting fabulously rich off their recorded music is over. These days it’s about establishing a brand and assembling a fanbase of 10,000 plus who will buy tickets and swag. Since a record company isn’t bleeding most of the profit from your recordings, you get more of the take from what you sell. That’s a lot different than selling several million copies of a single, and retiring, like my friend who wrote the B side of “Up, Up, and Away”. (You never heard it, but it sold just as many copies as the A side)

    The point is that the game has changed and there are new rules you have to learn. The old game of hoping that a record company will rescue you and loan you money while you learn your craft is over. And I speak as someone with 8 gold records on his wall.

    But what bothers me about this censorship technology is much more sinister. It will be used by law enforcement to bar recordings of police misconduct. Any technology that can remotely shut down recording equipment will be bought and used by governments to suppress dissent.

  8. Hi Scott, I understand where you are coming from – but the horse has already bolted on this one. However people uploading their private footage of artist concerts can still be monetised and that is by the content owners striking deals with the social networks where fans upload their content. Afterall it is the social networks who make advertising money everytime you upload a new piece of content and your friends view that new content. Furthermore, more people may see the raw non-broadcast quality footage and then decide they want to attend your next concert themselves. I sincerely do NOT think everything should be free because of technology. However I do believe as an industry we need to be chasing the people who are making money out of artist content becoming free and that is in this particular instance the social networks – not the actual fans!

  9. Scott Whitfield

    GOOD!! I’m sorry, but as a professional performing musician for many years now, I am SICK AND TIRED of people thinking that everything in the world is free just because of technology. Think about this for a minute, people. If all of this UNAUTHORIZED recording continues, how the hell do you expect the performer to make a living??

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