Well, the New Year is off to a great start – at least in terms of patents being published that get my craw. In this case, it is a game maker who has decided they want to control who can play their games, who can sell them and if they can ever be resold. The manufacturer in question is Sony and they had a patent published yesterday, that if issued and actively used, may well make some steer clear of their content – unless of course Sony bands together with other game makers to basically try and control the market in the way the motion picture association does. Just to be clear, this patent has not issued yet - only been published which means that it is in the pipeline.
The patent in question is 2003/0007892 titled “Electronic content processing system, electronic content processing method, package of electronic content, and use permission apparatus”
In the description they specifically talk about the second hand market for games. They say [when] electronic content is bought and sold in the second-hand markets or the like, the sales proceeds resulting therefrom are not redistributed to the developers. Also, since the users who have purchased the second-hand items are somehow no longer potential buyers of the content, the developers would lose their profits otherwise gained in the first place.
This was never a problem for books, and the whole notion of a library would suggest that the potential market for books should be close to zero. They seem to be forgetting that games sold on the second hand market are often older in nature and I know people who would not be able to afford to buy the latest game if they could not sell their older ones to help offset the new game costs.
Today, they do this by requiring online authentication and this works well for multi-player games where you have to be connected to the Internet. This patent is focused on stopping the sale of games that are played on a single machine where Internet authentication can be avoided. They even say -
As a technique to suppress the second-hand sales and purchase, a user may be first required to send a password or the like to a remote authentication server from a reproduction device (game player) via the Internet and the reproduction of content may be permitted only for the device that has succeeded in authentication.
With this invention they are suggesting that the disk is supplied with an RFID tag which basically provides the disk with a personal serial number.
While they deserve protection from copying is it right for them to try and restrict the secondary market?Brian Bailey
– keeping you entertained
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