A recently discovered patent from Microsoft could allow the company to police the number of viewers in a living room viewing licensed content.
Titled “Content Distribution by Viewing User,” the patent could turn the popular Xbox 360 motion-sensing add-on, the Kinect, into copyright policing tool, cutting off of licensed programming if the number of viewers in the room exceeds the terms of the license.
The patent — filed in April 2011 and published Nov. 1 — is, however, less about the capabilities of a specific device like the Kinect, and more about the process by which viewers see licensed content through Microsoft’s systems.
Eurogamer speculated Tuesday that the patent might allow for the “policing of living room ticket sales” if Microsoft has “envisaged a future of simultaneous cinematic and Xbox Live releases of films.”
G4TV reminded its readers that the patent still has yet to be approved, and that even if the patent is approved, it “may ultimately go no further than the R&D stage.”
“This news doesn’t automatically translate to “OMG MY XBOX IS WATCHING ME,” but it’s definitely something that should be of interest to folks who prefer to maintain their privacy,” said the publication.
Microsoft echoed this sentiment in a statement to The Daily Caller.
“Microsoft regularly applies for and receives patents as part of its business practice; not all patents applied for or received will be incorporated into a Microsoft product,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.
“It is also important to note that Microsoft has a strong track record of implementing some of the best privacy protection measures in the industry,” said the spokesperson. “We place great importance on the privacy of our customers’ information and the quality of their experiences.”