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cmhbob
07-13-2016, 05:15 AM
Wasn't sure if this belonged here, or P&CE, or what. I'm sort of surprised we don't have a thread on it already.

The basic idea is that Apple has received a patent for controlling the camera on the iPhone through the use of infrared light. Several of the linked articles mention good uses (museums setting up displays that trigger your camera to show more info about what you're looking at) and bad (setting up emitters in the vicinity of a public protest, keeping people from recording the protests.)


“An infrared emitter can be located in areas where picture or video capture is prohibited,” the patent reads. “An electronic device can then receive the infrared signals, decode the data and temporarily disable the device’s recording function based on the command.”

Several of my Apple-toting friends are really up in arms about this. The most vocal of that group is younger, and female, and attends lots of concerts. She's upset that she might not be able to take pictures and video of the concert, and claims that Apple is denying her the right to use her camera that she paid for.

I've pointed out that I don't think it's right for people to do that. Most tickets say no recording, or at least no professional recording equipment (that's my friend's out, that the iPhone isn't professional recording equipment). I think she's splitting hairs. At one point, she said, "If a celebrity doesn't want people taking photos/videos of them, they shouldn't be doing concerts. Just because the performer doesn't want pictures and videos doesn't give Apple the right to block people from using picture and video features. Singers knew that kind of thing would happen. It's part of the job." :Shrug:

The discussion have distilled down to "let the artists and venues do something about pirating or other copyright violations, but they're not allowed to work with the hardware vendors." Bringing it back to writing, I said that's akin to telling me I can't utilize Amazon's DRM on Kindle files.

I'm wondering what other creatives think about the whole idea. I'm not sure what copyright law says about recording a public performance for personal use, which is what my friend claims her only plans are. I'm not sure if the private use part of her intentions matter. I think recording a concert is morally wrong, if not legally so, because you're only paying to listen to it, not record it. It's possible to get press credentials to take photos at a concert, so if you want photos, go through proper channels.

At any rate, discuss. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Links:

http://www.snopes.com/2016/06/30/apple-to-block-iphone-cameras-at-concerts/
http://www.macworld.com/article/3091759/apple-phone/why-we-dont-need-to-worry-about-apple-blocking-our-iphone-cameras-yet.html
http://9to5mac.com/2016/06/28/apple-patent-infra-red-block-photos/
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/30/apple-iphone-camera-disable-remote-sensors-patent

Samsonet
07-13-2016, 01:43 PM
The American in me says there are a lot of things that people shouldn't do, but should still have the ability to do. Usually because that ability is tied to a bunch of other things as well.

mirandashell
07-13-2016, 02:27 PM
I'm more worried about the blockage of phone footage of demonstrations and civil disturbances. If you can't record the way the police behave, they can get away with everything. As they have done in the past.

Rolling Thunder
07-13-2016, 03:06 PM
I'm going to assume the people who defend their right to pirate artistic content would bitch vehemently if their own home was burglarized.

BenPanced
07-13-2016, 04:08 PM
Or they assume the "fair use" disclaimer they put on their YouTube posts is going to help if they're served with a take down notice.

Alessandra Kelley
07-13-2016, 04:52 PM
I am rather more worried that law enforcement agencies may use the technology to disable people's devices so they cannot record embarrassing or criminal law enforcement behavior.

So many current news stories center on outrages which *chanced* to be caught on video. Without video proof, how many crimes could occur?

And not just law enforcement. How many recent rape and gang rape stories include video evidence from cell phones?

Imagine what could happen if people intent on crime get access to the shut-down codes.

Latina Bunny
07-13-2016, 05:22 PM
Yeah, I agree with other posters about being worried that people would not be able to record crimes and abuse, etc.

I strongly feel that this is something that could potentially be abused...

robjvargas
07-13-2016, 07:32 PM
I'm not convinced that this is as overreaching in capability as is being presented.

However, I'm not well-read on IR control. All I remember is that media remote controllers in the past used infrared. You had to have a direct line of sight from emitter to receiver in order for the remote to work.

Does IR work in broadcast?

I don't think so, but I'm admittedly FAR from certain on that.

R.Barrows
07-13-2016, 07:50 PM
I'm not convinced that this is as overreaching in capability as is being presented.

However, I'm not well-read on IR control. All I remember is that media remote controllers in the past used infrared. You had to have a direct line of sight from emitter to receiver in order for the remote to work.

Does IR work in broadcast?

I don't think so, but I'm admittedly FAR from certain on that.

It's a good question. I messed around with IR years back when I was using my Palm Pilot to control RC devices. IR beams do reflect off white surfaces, and wide angle IR transmitters do exist. I would assume the camera would be used as the pickup device for the transmission since a separate IR receiver could be disabled or taped over by the user. Either that or they'll put the IR receiver right next to the lens making it difficult to mess with.

For best effect, they'll need to blanket an area with the signal. This works okay when you can mount a projector to blanket a specific area, but not so well in portable situations. For example, a police officer would have to have a projector on his front and his back and his sides to get a 360 shutdown. The beam has to be fired at the camera, not at the area being blocked, so putting one on a police car would only prevent people aiming at the car from being recorded. If the officer gets out to respond, they could be recorded unless they've got some kind of 360 degree IR projection system built into their helmet or something. There are also range considerations on the signal. IR doesn't go far, particularly in sunlight which can scramble the signal. It works best at night or in darkened rooms. Perfect for a concert or movie theater where you can mount multiple IR projectors around the room.

Of course, all of this does no good whatsoever at blocking any device that isn't designed to recognize the signal and shut down the camera, which makes Apple's motives in applying for the patent confusing. Are they really interested in putting this in their phones, or are they applying for the patent simply so they can sue anyone who decides to use it later? If, for instance, the government suddenly decided to require all manufacturers of cameras to include this feature, and Apple had the patent, they'd probably make bank collecting a little bit of royalty on every camera sold. Which kind of gives them incentive to promote such legislation. But I'm just guessing here. I mean, who else would want such a requirement other than the media industry and music industry?

cmhbob
07-13-2016, 08:15 PM
My friend really does just keep her videos and photos for personal use; I've never seen her post anything from inside a concert to her SM feeds.

And I get the abuse potential. One of the articles pointed out the (rule-violating) use of iPhones on the Senate floor recently after C-SPAN cut their feed. What if teh Senate had the IR controllers set up in the Chamber? We wouldn't have seen the sit-in (or the catering, but that's another matter).

Rob, I don't much about the effectiveness of IR either. One of the articles pointed out that it wasn't very efficient, and might even have been superseded by iBeacons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBeacon). I wonder if law enforcement could add the necessary IR emitters to the roof of police vehicles. I also wonder if this could be controlled such that LE could shut off any camera that's not on a certain list, letting them shut down protester's devices, but not police devices.

But from the creative aspect of it, I definitely think venues and performers have every right to do something like this. Her responses was, "If they don't like it, they shouldn't perform." My response is, "If you don't like it, don't go to the concert." I don't know that there's a clear copyright rule/law about filming public performances.

MaeZe
07-13-2016, 08:20 PM
... and bad (setting up emitters in the vicinity of a public protest, keeping people from recording the protests.)...Yikes!

It's one thing to enable a ban on recording a performance, but how about the police using it to stop people recording their actions?

New at the ap store next month: a device that can override such censorship.

cmhbob
07-13-2016, 08:22 PM
Are they really interested in putting this in their phones, or are they applying for the patent simply so they can sue anyone who decides to use it later? If, for instance, the government suddenly decided to require all manufacturers of cameras to include this feature, and Apple had the patent, they'd probably make bank collecting a little bit of royalty on every camera sold. Which kind of gives them incentive to promote such legislation. But I'm just guessing here. I mean, who else would want such a requirement other than the media industry and music industry?

I had several Palm Pilots over the years!

I really think this is Apple protecting its assets. I don't think they have any interest in actually fielding this tech. They just want to be able to control its use.

As far as uses? There are lots of places I can think of that should have camera control disabled: banking/finance and healthcare are two examples. The local VA center disallows any civilian cellular devices with cameras in the building. It's ostensibly because there are so many people working there with sensitive/PII information on their desks with non-employees walking around. One employee told me it's because someone took pictures of the stacks of backlog of paperwork on various desks. But the side effect of the ban is that if I've got nothing but digital copies of a bunch of papers that I need to show my caseworker, I can't easily show them, because I can't have my phone or tablet in there with me. I wonder though if setting up the emitters would be cost effective in that kind of environment.

ironmikezero
07-13-2016, 08:29 PM
There will be ample legal issues to sort out, and that will vary considerably by country.

In the U.S. there is no expectation of privacy in public space. A vendor offering a performance in a private, limited access space may be permitted to restrict event recording under certain circumstances (public notice, explicit warnings, etc.). As for recording interference (jamming, etc.) in public space, there are a host of existing laws & regulations that address specific concerns (most of which are illegal). A number of existing agencies would line up to scrutinize any such potential from any commercial source.

Jamesaritchie
07-13-2016, 09:46 PM
This is a patent issue, and nothing but a patent issue. It simply means those who do not own the patent will have to find a different way of doing the same thing, or pay to do it this way. This is normal.

But far too many people want something they have no right to, that they did not create, and that they do not own. A thief is a thief, whether they steal with a handgun or a camera.

jjdebenedictis
07-13-2016, 11:33 PM
I think it's a valid complaint to say a company has no right to cripple your device. Apple is not the police, and they have no right to try to police us, or to help police us.

I also know there are already technologies in use to prevent people using a product to commit a crime. For example, you generally can't photocopy money; the photocopier will halt and spit out an incomplete page.

I don't favour corporations attempting to control people; they were not elected and have no right to such authority over us. Also, there are other technologies that could be used to prevent people taking video of concerts. For example, there's now fabric that is highly reflective to camera flash or to infrared light (which a lot of cell phones still pick up), which causes any photos taken to be ruined by the resulting high contrast in light levels. Simply use that fabric in your stage costumes, and amateur photos will be guaranteed to remain amateurish-looking and ugly.

Blinkk
07-14-2016, 06:31 AM
Very interesting discussion. Since I'm a touring musician for a living, I have a slightly different angle on it.

I don't know much about IR emitters, but it's insanely interesting to me. I'll going to do some research on it right after I write this comment.

Anyways, back to the musician thing. Musicians spend a lot money and effort creating quality videos for youtube. When the public searches for us, we would like our professional videos to fill the first page of youtube. However, our pro videos are now competing with oodles of cellphone videos. My band actually has some arbitrary cell phone video that got a stupid amount of views, and the person who recorded it had their finger partly over the mic. When you listen to it, you only hear distorted bass and overpowering, auto-compressed drums, (plus cell phone cameras are NOT made for recording live audio - there's a whole industry for sound engineers who do live mixing) The audio quality on this video is ridiculously horrible. There's a lot of youtube hate saying how horrendous we sound. It's true, the video sounds awful. However, our guitarist just won an award for being the 3rd most watched female guitarist on instagram this February. Our piano players is a jazz professor at university. Our singer was invited to tour with a ridiculously famous classic rock band that I won't mention here. Our booking agent books worldwide and wouldn't take us on if we were hacks. We're pretty talented and accomplished, but that youtube video has deterred people from buying tickets to our shows.

Do I think that means no one should film our show? Absolutely not. I want the audience to partake in the show. I encourage people to film the concert, take the recording home and watch it with fond memories. However, is there a way I wish I could limit amateur videos appearing on youtube? Hell yes. The only answer I can see for us is to keep putting up pro-quality content, not limit the audience's recording ability. (Eventually that shitty iphone video will get buried. Still wish it was never there at all.)

Okay, so there's another elephant in the room. The vast majority of the industry uses tracks. If (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D332BqbF8sg) there (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbqFMgdSeGs) was (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwLS6hQvejM) ever (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RrLAgi_mBY) a (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=50+cent+synch+fail) catastrophic (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojjNPEmyPsg) event (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwLS6hQvejM), they (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9VDW1cR13I) wouldn't (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9VDW1cR13I) want (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ2n4UkvSQg) it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSsMwcWx9ic) on (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qklgrmCJM4) camera. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXxcqYwy-1s) Aaaaaand I'll leave that one where it is. :D

Anyways, my last two cents is this:
I think large companies censoring us on their own agenda is a violation of privacy. Recording events in a public space is fair game. I'm more concerned about the fairness of documenting police, protests, and other social acts. Music is second to that concern.

cmhbob
07-14-2016, 07:43 AM
Recording events in a public space is fair game. I'm more concerned about the fairness of documenting police, protests, and other social acts. Music is second to that concern.

Great perspective. Thanks for that.

I'd say though that an event one has to have tickets for isn't a public event; it's private, because not everyone gets in.

Blinkk
07-14-2016, 08:10 AM
Great perspective. Thanks for that.

I'd say though that an event one has to have tickets for isn't a public event; it's private, because not everyone gets in.

Good distinction. Tickets are sold to the public, so I assumed a concert was a public event. I always thought the definition of a private event was funding by the person/entity hosting the event, like a wedding or a corporate party. Concerts are supported through ticket sales (but sometimes they're not, like when we play private house parties - fwiw we have to ask permission to film/photograph our show at a private venue like that). I'm not a lawyer so I might be wrong. That's an interesting distinction, cmhbob.