Apple's video kill patent nothing to get upset about: EFA

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) says the technology doesn't even exist yet, plus killing recording capability can often be legitimate

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has called for calm following the revelation that Apple has applied for a patent which could disable iPhones from video recording live music.

EFA board member Stephen Collins said despite the potential of the technology to restrict the use of future iPhone models, Apple’s customers and the IT industry needed to place the patent application in context.

“There is a patent and it has been applied for, but Apple applies for hundreds of patents every year – and most get granted —but at the moment, it’s speculative and there is nothing functional [yet],” he said.

Collins said the negative impact of any future device with the technology was further diminished by the fact that many live music and theatre events already had no audio or video recording stipulations as part of any ticket sale conditions.

Social conventions — such as not recording video or taking pictures in public pools or change rooms — also argued in favour of legitimate uses of such a technology.

“Arguably, if you are going to pay for a ticket and agree to the terms and conditions for those tickets there is arguably a reason you shouldn’t be filming or audio recording,” he said. “Apple is entitled to apply for patents as is [anybody].”

The technology’s potential ability for Apple and its partners to control when and where users could record video or audio was also not an issue, Collins said.

“I don’t think Apple is making the choice for anyone,” he said. “They are providing a technology which they are entitled to provide. Assuming it is deployed, ever, then the owner of the event has to buy the technology, implement it, and flick the switch to make it work.”

Collins agreed that another potential, though speculative, use of the technology could be by governments to stop video and audio recording, such as at the recent protests and rallies across the Middle East, however, added that such a move would be largely futile.

“That [use], at a 40,000 foot view, is no different than [artnid: http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/374883/can_australia_internet_switched_off_too_/ |Egypt trying to turn off the [Internet]|new]] and it not working as there are ways around it,” he said. “Should [the technology] ever see the light of day it’s only going to be a couple of weeks until something is there to route around it without too much difficulty.”

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @Tlohman Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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