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Sony UK Refused P2P Software Patent 126

blane.bramble writes "The Register reports that Sony cannot patent inventions in the UK that remove the anonymity of the peer-to-peer (P2P) user experience. Sony tried to patent a method of passing around user reviews of shared files, but the UK Patent Office rejected it, and then rejected it again on appeal. The article indicates the patents were rejected because the 'inventions' were not eligible for patenting. " From the article: "When a P2P user downloads a piece of content from another user's computer, be it a song or a game or a movie, he normally knows nothing about that user - or where that user obtained the content. Sony's proposal would change that experience. Sony describes a method for attaching a user history to content when it is shared among computers or other devices. When one user downloads a song, he can see who had it last and what he thought about it."
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Sony UK Refused P2P Software Patent

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  • honestly... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Burlap ( 615181 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:52AM (#15935156)
    I think that would be a cool feature. I would like the ability to tag content with a review for others to read later on, add to or disagree with as they please.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Just because it's not patentable doesn't mean they won't implement it.
    • How about implementing it and releasing it? why patenting it with nothing done whatsoever?

      It's not like they can't be the first to market and then patent their implementation, or protect their network by encryption or other means.
      • Re:he who can, does (Score:5, Informative)

        by shawb ( 16347 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:51AM (#15935631)
        Most of the world follows a first to file [wikipedia.org] policy rather than a first to invent, and even the United States is moving towards this. The primary justification for following a first to file policy is that there is a lot of difficulty in proving prior art, or more importantly proving LACK of prior art on unpatented inventions.

        While it may seem unfair to inventors, going on a first to file policy is theoretically more fair and effective in the long run than a first to invent policy; If you think patent trolls and submarine patents are bad, imagine what someone (party A) could do by surreptiously inventing a tech, documenting the invention without releasing the information to the public, then waiting for someone (party B) else to invent the same tech, patent it and actually bring it to market. Party A could then retroactively coopt the patent and demand exorbitant fees from the Party B with a much stronger bargaining chip than they otherwise would have, as party B has already invested a lot of capital into manufacturing, advertising, supply chain, etc. With a first to file policy, there is a public record of the patent so party B would know in advance whether the tech is available or not, and therefore be able to know in advance what the costs involved with production (I.E. whether they will have to pay a liscensing fee on the tech.)

        Although this brings up another odd conundrum with patents. They can be quite detrimental to innovation if the license holder does not bring the patented idea to market and does not actively shop out the patent to be licenced. Basically, if the tech is not in some product on the market, another party researching along the same lines would have very little way of knowing that what they are researching has been patented untill enough R&D has been done that they could independantly file a patent on the same idea. Without enough information to file their own patent, it would be difficult to search the available literature and listed patents to find if the idea has been patented yet, especially if the patent is written in an obfuscated (whether intentional or not) manner. If the tech has already been brought to market, it is likely that researchers in the field would be familiar with the competition and the workins of the competitors products and know at a much earlier stage whether the product they are developing is indeed innovative. If the patent holder is actively shopping the patent out, it is likely that the promotional materials presented would have a much more clear synopsis of what the patent actually covers than actually reading the patent itself.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jkabbe ( 631234 )
          A few comments:

          In the US, a prior inventor only gets priority over a later inventor (the later inventor filing the patent application first) IF the prior inventor worked diligently toward making the invention work and filing a patent application AND did not abandon the invention. So any kind of "waiting" is likely to ruin the patent claim of the earlier inventor.

          First to file makes things simpler for the patent office and the courts, but I wouldn't say that the current US system is easy to abuse. Instead,
          • Re:he who can, does (Score:4, Informative)

            by Znork ( 31774 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @12:35PM (#15935927)
            "With first to file, I would have to file for a patent."

            This is a common mistake. You dont have to patent with first to file, you just need to publish it. Once it's been published, it's unpatentable as prior art, both by you yourself or anyone else.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by jkabbe ( 631234 )
              This is a common mistake. You dont have to patent with first to file, you just need to publish it. Once it's been published, it's unpatentable as prior art, both by you yourself or anyone else.

              That's a good point. But, if publication can ruin patentability so easily, it would put a much greater burden on researchers and inventors to carefully screen the information they release. Currently, they have up to a year to file for a patent application even after publication of their invention. If the new system
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Macadamizer ( 194404 )
              That's the way most countries work, but that has nothing to do with being "first to file" -- rather, it establishes a requirement for "absolute novelty."

              Even if "first to file" comes about in the U.S., there is no guarantee that there will also be a new "absolute novelty" requirement -- we may very well keep the current 35 U.S.C. 102 novelty rules.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by muyuubyou ( 621373 )
          I understand the process, but still they could be working on it and have a prototype. It appears to me they're not interested in the technology if they can't be the only game in town. It's not that I can't understand their position, it's more than I can't sympathize.

          Note I'm not disagreeing with you or with grand-grandparent (who said it sounded like an interesting idea). I simply find that basing your business primarily on having a lock on the market by patents is not particularly "nice." They could pursue
    • Re:honestly... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Shrubbman ( 3807 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:14AM (#15935370)
      Like, say, the comments feature in emule?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think that would be a cool feature. I would like the ability to tag content with a review for others to read later on, add to or disagree with as they please.
      As long as I can be an AnonymousCoward.
    • by Gary W. Longsine ( 124661 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:25AM (#15935451) Homepage Journal
      "I think that would be a cool feature. I would like the ability to tag content with a review for others to read later on, add to or disagree with as they please."
      Great. All we need is yet another way for induhviduals to cause you grief by spoofing your email address (or whatever). Suppose one day you accidentally slight the 15 year old summer intern by humming along to Eleanor Rigby when it comes over the Muzak(TM). Unbeknownst to you, starting the next day your "review" is attached to all the pr0n mpegs floating around on the net. A thousand years after you die, the only trace of you left on the planet will be pr0n files with your "review" attached:

      "John Q. Public says: MUST SEE!!! h0t b3atch3s p7mp3d 1n 411 h0l3s!!!"

      Since The Kid used the latest version of Jonny-Rev13wZ-it.EXE, each of your "reviews" will be unique of course. The time stamps of the reviews will be spoofed so that they are spread out over the last few years, starting with late night reviews, then adding in early morning reviews, then lunch hour reviews, then, finally, within the past few weeks, work-day reviews. Some of your reviews might even contain samples of phrases gleaned from your blog and other emails of yours floating around the internet, to add to the apparent authenticity. Then he anonymously reports you to the FBI, because undoubtedly some of those reviews are attached to material which would qualify you for special treatment in the Federal penitentiary where you will, most likely, live out your days. Unless, of course, you are lucky enough to be acquitted by a jury with a high tolerance for techno-babble.

      Meanwhile, you won't be able to get a date with any girl savvy enough to Google you.

      Unless you must first submit a notarized copy of your "review" along with your X.509 certificate and two forms of valid government issued photo identification at the county courthouse, No, thanks.
    • I think that would be a cool feature. I would like the ability to tag content with a review for others to read later on, add to or disagree with as they please.

      See my comments below on how this is a Stealth Attack on P2P. This is not a cool feature at all, in the present climate, but is being sold as one to people like you who don't realize the ramifications of it. Wise up!

      • by Nevarre ( 933274 )
        The first thing that came to my mind when I read this article was that content would also be tagged with an originating IP address, a MAC and possibly a partial traceroute. All sorts of interesting information could be attached to the file. This is the company that helpfully provided their customers with a rootkit on CD.
    • by jetmarc ( 592741 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:47AM (#15935597)
      Emule lets you attach a "File comment" (some 60 chars) and "Quality Rating" (1-5 stars) to your files.

      To attach a comment, all you need to have is the complete file.

      To view a comment, you need to have it in your download list. You see each comment together with the (optional) rating, and the authors nick.

      If a file has comments attached, a tiny green or red exclamation mark is displayed next to its name in the transfer window. A green icon stands for comments with positive or absent rating. A red icon indicates the presence of negative ratings.

      Emule users tend to mark fakes with negative ratings, and you can spot them by the red icon shortly after the download has started.

      This feature is implemented in Emule since at least 2 years (probably more).

      Regards,
      Marc
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Andrewkov ( 140579 )
        Yeah, but Sony can't use that to track pirates or enforce their DRM related activities.
    • by hcob$ ( 766699 )

      a user history to content when it is shared among computers or other devices

      I think that would be a cool feature.

      And then Sony sells the way to read that info to the RIAA/MPAA/all other Assholes... Oh, and Sony forogt to tell you that they are also including uniquely identifying information for each user who had downloaded it. Now they can find a file once and have a full history of many more people to sue; all coming with nice, uniquely identifiable tags to ease the legal proceedings.

      • by Burlap ( 615181 )
        well, if you're a law abiding citizen like me who doesnt pirate music, or allow others to pirate music I've bought then problem solved....
        • by sepluv ( 641107 )

          I'd imagine lawful users who require P2P, as opposed to traditional publishing methods, should be the most scared by this.

          If you're using P2P this is usually because you don't want someone to know what you are copying; not because it is a copyright violation, but because of what it is expressing (e.g.: material critical of governments, or large criminal syndicates or protection rackets like, say, the RIAA/Sony/et al). (The danger being, obviously, that if such people knew you were expressing such opinion

    • You talk as if the lack of a patent keeps Sony from implementing this feature.
    • by Maxmin ( 921568 )
      That's what torrentspy.com's for, silly! A *central* place to gather comments about a particular p2p object.

      With Sony's "p2p" user review system, you'll be facing the consequences of power law networks, in which the number of versions of the attached comments could be as many as the number of copies of the media. You copy a file from my system, make a change, now your version is different than mine. Ad-infinitum. Comments won't travel together.
    • WTF....this is ALREADY available in programs of the likes of Azuerus and other BT clients. Its also been stated on here its available on emule.

      Does it work? yes. Is it really that helpful? No, not really. Occasionally I'll comment on something, but only if its a popular file and if people have asked whether the file in question actually works, etc.

      What the RIAA would *love* to do is patent this idea, which obviously has already been created by countless others, so that it may sue the hell out of the name
  • Seems as though... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by winnabago ( 949419 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:52AM (#15935158) Homepage
    Seems as though the UK has a more workable definition of an "obvious" idea than we do in the US. This is a good start.
    • by paladinwannabe2 ( 889776 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:58AM (#15935220)
      No, the EU doesn't care whether or not a computer program is 'novel' or 'non-obvious'- the EU just forbids software patents, algorithms, and most other mathematical constucts from being patented. For instance, if Andrew Wiles wanted to Patent Fermat's Last Theorem [wikipedia.org] he couldn't- not because it's obvious (it took mathematicians 350+ years to solve), but because it's a mathematical proof.
      • Yes, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by winnabago ( 949419 )
        I agree with you, but if it was really that cut and dry, then why was Sony pursuing the process in the first place? They must have been hoping to game the system, like another poster said, to essentially block others from using this technique of P2P by extracting the theory from the software. Well, the obviousness comes from calling a duck a duck. A patent "about a method that could be applied to software" is still forbidden, no matter how you slice it. I think this is good news, depending on the lastin
        • It's one of those things where they are trying to get patents on borderline computer programs- things that some people consider computer programs and some don't. If that succeeds, they can keep trying to patent things which are more and more obviously software, but if they have precedent they can probably get such things patented- until software patenting becomes legal. That's kinda how it happened in the U.S.- software wasn't patentable until 1989, but someone pointed out that you could patent a computer
    • No, the UK has just figured out that it's impossible for most techs, let alone patent clerks, to figure out what's "obvious" in software.

      It was turned down because it's about software, not because it's obvious.
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by ajs318 ( 655362 )
      The patent was not struck down for obviety, but for being beyond the scope of patentability. Computer programs, business methods and mathematical processes are specifically excluded from patentability in the EU.
  • by ookabooka ( 731013 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:53AM (#15935170)
    I'm assuming that they would try to patent this so they could block other companies from creating this sort of software. . .if Sony decides to go Pro-P2P the RIAA would shit themsleves.
    • I'm assuming that they would try to patent this so they could block other companies from creating this sort of software. . .if Sony decides to go Pro-P2P the RIAA would shit themsleves.
      Sony is a member of the RIAA. One of the more powerful and nefarious ones too obviously.
    • by shawb ( 16347 )
      One of the basic tenets of the patent was that the filesharing is no longer anonymous. I would think the RIAA (and related associations) would be all about that. My guess is Sony is trying to come up with some P2P alternative to iTunes. Why P2P? It would be cheaper for them to shift the bandwith burdern to the customers. Basically it is possible that they have people that are intelligent enough to realize their is a chance that their current business model (selling physical media) will not last forever
    • Au contraire (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Moraelin ( 679338 )
      Au contraire. Think of all the people that got identified -- some virus writers, but some ordinary joes -- thanks to Word's keeping track of who edited it. IIRC, the MAC address is a part of it, and most people didn't even know they were tracked, so they didn't even know what to spoof nor even that they needed to spoof it.

      If Sony actually got the ball rolling, so every file you ever shared is for ever marked as downloaded from you, the RIAA would probably be in so much joy that they'd ejaculate in their pan
      • If Sony actually got the ball rolling, so every file you ever shared is for ever marked as downloaded from you, the RIAA would probably be in so much joy that they'd ejaculate in their pants.

        The problem with that is, if Sony actually *get* the patent, the various P2P authors would with have to license it, or violate the patent to use it. So, the question remains, why on earth would any P2P author even consider implementing something a blatantly stupid as a tracking mechanism??

  • Strange Focus (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Enoxice ( 993945 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:54AM (#15935184) Journal
    The article/summary should've focused less on that actual invention (it's a nice idea and it might be cool) and more on why the patent wasn't granted. The summary almost made it sound like "omgz s0ny haxxored lim3wire!!!11".
    • The article/summary should've focused less on that actual invention (it's a nice idea and it might be cool)
      there was an invention???
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:56AM (#15935204)
    ...first they invent CD malware to infect your PC, then they want to change the P2P system to identify file sharers.

    Maybe we should all just give in and let Sony tell us what to watch, listen to, and buy as well?

    FTA: "The patent application explains: "For example, the user, Clark Kent, may give a classic jazz music file a rating of '7' and include the user comment 'like cool man'. Also, instead of using his true identity ('Clark Kent'), Clark uses an alias, 'Superman.'" Clark may also choose to supply his email address."

    Come on Sony, this is a flawed example, everyone knows that Clark Kent can hear everything with his super-hearing, and he doesn't need no stinkin' P2P applications!
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Shouldn't DC Comics sue sony for using his name and alias? That is the point of IP laws isn't it? Someone went to a lot of time and effort creating a very large back-story to Superman, and Sony have just used it there without giving any royalties to the artists involved.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fbjon ( 692006 )
        Shouldn't DC Comics sue sony for using his name and alias?
        No! RIAA should sue Superman for his unlicensed ability to hear copyrighted material.
    • ...first they invent CD malware to infect your PC, then they want to change the P2P system to identify file sharers.

      If so, it's a totally assinine business plan. "Look, all you pirates out there! We can't track you now, but if you use our *NEW* P2P technology, we will be able to do so. Of course, since we own the patent on the technology, this tracking won't be able to be added to new versions of Kazaa, etc. You will have to pay us big money to use the K3WL new SonyAza!". Yeah, I'm sure this will attract
    • ...first they invent CD malware to infect your PC

      Sony didn't invent it. It was developed by SunnComm Technologies. Sure, Sony used it, but they didn't have a hand in the development.

      then they want to change the P2P system to identify file sharers.

      From TFA, it says that when you download a file it will show you the username of the person you are getting it from, a comment, and a rating. How is that any different from eMule or LimeWire?
  • by another_fanboy ( 987962 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:57AM (#15935213)
    This is a neat idea. However, if the MPAA and RIAA got their filthy hands on it they could track p2p downloads. Considering Sony's history of DRM, I'm sceptical of their motives.
    • Um, how could Sony's tecnhology get inside Emule, Kazaa, and Bittorrent?
    • " [...] if the MPAA and RIAA got their filthy hands on it they could track p2p downloads."

      That's what it's ultimately for, of course. (Go ahead, call me a cynic.)

      But I gotta admit, it's dead clever of them to come up with a tracking system that actually adds value.
    • Don't forget Sony's 50% stake in Sony BMG Music Entertainment [google.com], the #2 record company in the world... I think that the distinction between "Sony" and "RIAA" is a very fine one.
  • I'd prefer Sony to work on this mystical PSP network (like what the DS has) which can be apparently located in a cupboard somewhere in London, the Dungeon of Edingburgh castle, between 03:12 and 03:14 in Cardiff and anywhere in Glasgow above 1 mile in height. Having a useable network for PSP users around the world should really be a primary target.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by ZakuSage ( 874456 )
      DS has a usable network? Wow, so Nintendo finally got rid of friend codes, eh?
    • by durnurd ( 967847 )
      I'd prefer Sony to work on this mystical PSP network
      Is it really terribly difficult for you to believe that a multi-national corporation with offices on six of seven continents can't work on two things at a time?
  • by Elektroschock ( 659467 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:59AM (#15935235)
    The UK is party to the European Patent convention which clearly says that software, organisational rules and business methods are not inventions, not patentable subject matters.

    In the past ten years the European Patent Office tried to establish case law which perverted the EPC and created the EU software patent mess. As we see now, patentability advocats are on retreat thanks to the intense lobbying of software patent critics. And the courts follow.

    The major task is now to gain ground and continue advocacy. What Sony proposes here is no INVENTION. So no surprise that it is not patentable.

    What will be further crucial is the US getting real and abolishing software and business method patents.
    • by jkabbe ( 631234 )
      What Sony proposes here is no INVENTION. So no surprise that it is not patentable.

      But according to the article, the application was not rejected for lack of novelty (ie. inventiveness), but rather due to subject matter. The subject matter which is patentable has nothing to do with invention and everything to do with the kind of social contract the citizens of a country want to make with inventors.
      • by Elektroschock ( 659467 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @01:07PM (#15936168)
        But according to the article, the application was not rejected for lack of novelty (ie. inventiveness), but rather due to subject matter. The subject matter which is patentable has nothing to do with invention and everything to do with the kind of social contract the citizens of a country want to make with inventors.

        I am afraid. Subject matter defines what constitutes an invention on a fundamental level.

        When a patent fails on subject matter it is not only that no patent is granted but the application is also a non-invention in Europe.

        Very good btw. this is exactly the way it should be applies.

        Article 52,2 defines what is at least to be considered a non-inventions by subject matter. Article 52,3 makes sure that patents on inventions can be granted regardless that they involve the components of Art 52.2, a loophole which was abused.


        Article 52

        Patentable inventions

        (1) European patents shall be granted for any inventions which are susceptible of industrial application, which are new and which involve an inventive step.

        (2) The following in particular shall not be regarded as inventions within the meaning of paragraph 1:

        (a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;

        (b) aesthetic creations;

        (c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;

        (d) presentations of information.

        (3) The provisions of paragraph 2 shall exclude patentability of the subject-matter or activities referred to in that provision only to the extent to which a European patent application or European patent relates to such subject-matter or activities as such.

        • by jkabbe ( 631234 )
          I would take the term "patentable inventions" to mean that there exist "unpatentable inventions" (otherwise the term "patentable" is redundant). But maybe that's just me :)

          I still believe that what is patentable is simply based on a cost-benefit analysis that results in a social contract. Or maybe I should say "was" since we seem to be forgetting that rationale and moving away from it.
          • The EPC rules are even better.

            a) non-inventions such a as organisational rules or algorithms

            b) inventions
            b1) patentable - novelty, inventive step, technical character
            b2) non-patentable -

            "I still believe that what is patentable is simply based on a cost-benefit analysis that results in a social contract." - In theory that is a useful approach but it never happens. I would word it like that. "A patent system is an incentive tool you as a society apply top a certain field provided
  • Surely not!!!

    (I know this is the UK patent office, but with Blair being Bush's lapdog and all...)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by grimJester ( 890090 )
      (I know this is the UK patent office, but with Blair being Bush's lapdog and all...)

      I see you use the type of dog in the UK, rather than gender.
  • I can't believe the patents companies are submitting. We better hurry up and patent every damn feature of our new appliance before someone else does! Just because it involves a computer and/or the Internet does not mean it needs a patent. In a real-life comparison, this would be like a car-rental company offering the name and information of the previous renter of said car, including their opinion of the car. I no way is this an invention for patent (or very useful).
    • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @12:45PM (#15935999) Journal
      With patents being the sad mess they are, at least in the USA, it's not like they even have any choice. Mind you, Sony isn't exactly the "good guys" in the first place, but even if they were, they'd have no other choice at the moment.

      To use your car rental example, imagine this: so you have your car rental, as in your example, and you start letting users write reviews and rate the cars they drove. I'll also assume it's in a program (e.g., an internet site where the users can book cars ahead of time, for when they arrive in your city), so it's relevant to the software patents disaster. So you're a good guy and think to yourself, "self, wth, it's just a common sense extension of what already happens with books, movies, etc, and it's not even that useful anyway" and you don't patent it.

      So two years from now, when you've made a fair bit of cash and maybe even expanded into a new city, some patent troll sues you on account that it infringes on their "user-review system for car rentals" patent. (Which the patent office gladly granted, since prior art was about books, movies, etc, not about car rentals. So obviously it's a great innovation to copy it verbatim to car rentals too.)

      At this point it may not even matter whether you win or lose, since patent lawsuits are the most expensive kind. You can win it and still go bankrupt because of the expenses. But chances are good that you'll not even manage to win it, since someone had clearly patented it a good year before your site went online, and you have obviously infringed on their patent.

      So what what everyone is doing is hoarding patents as an aggressive defense. In that:

      1. If you patent that first, you can't be sued later.

      2. If they sue you for something else, you hope that they infringed on some of yours too, so you can counter-sue them into the stone age. (Of course, this doesn't work against pure patent-trolls, who never actually have a product or service of their own.)
  • Of course the only reason for this to exist is so that you can see what other people have downloaded in addition to downloading the song you want. There's no other reason for this to exist. Well, that and the ability to compare what rootkits users have. They're like Pokemon: Gotta Catch 'Em All!
  • by Raphael ( 18701 ) <quinet@gamer[ ]rg ['s.o' in gap]> on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:08AM (#15935316) Homepage Journal

    It is not surprising that the court has rejected the patent. Most EU courts reject software patents or business method patents even though the EPO (European Patent Office) will grant them happily (contrary to the text and spirit of the patent convention). So that court did its job and rejected something that should never be patentable in Europe.

    However, this could change in the future: the EPO is lobbying for establishing a "(European) Community Patent" process and for having a single European patent court, which would rule in case of patent disputes like this one. Given that the judges in that new court would probably come from the EPO, there is a high risk that they would grant the patent.

    Time to support the FFII [ffii.org] and the FSF Europe [fsf-europe.org]...

  • It sounds like a book sign out card used in libraries and they added comments.

    Do they still use sign out cards?
  • What a pathetically obvious way for Sony to take on P2P software and attempts to combat their spamming of fake content on P2P networks. Instead of saying "You're facilitating piracy" now they can also say "You're violating our Patent." This would even let them take on open source apps.

    -Eric

    • Good point about going after other P2P apps. I was thinking their main goal is to implement this feature, then lobby to governments to force other P2P apps to follow suite as a way to combat piracy, and collect royalties on the patent at the same time. Win-win for Sony if it would have worked.
  • It seems that everybody is thinking Sony won't implement the idea. The fact that they cannot patent the very idea doesn't mean they can't go ahead and do it!
  • Suspicions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kwesadilo ( 942453 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:18AM (#15935397)

    I would be suspicious of P2P from a media company. Especially one that gives the user more ... identity.

    From TFA:

    "Over time," suggests the application, "if a particular user consistently recommends interesting content before other users, then they will emerge as a kind of expert recommender."

    Then the RIAA could descend wrathfully on this supposed uber-pirate. Even if the guy used a psuedomym, like the article suggests, the system would probably have some sort of personally identifiable information on him that the RIAA could get the court to subpoena the information, or Sony could just give it to them.

    I think the only way that I would consider this feature a good thing is if it had no "identity," which would only as useful as the comment metadata that you can already put on files you share in some systems. Either that, or if it was part of a system where you already had an identity, like that subscription thing Sony did with Playlouder that the article talkied about. This might be all that Sony was planning to do with this anyway.

    Anyway, I would be hesitant to jump into this. I'm suspicious.

    Also, I wouldn't want to have to deal with the implications of

    And the user history information could be sold to marketers.
    • From TFA:

      "Over time," suggests the application, "if a particular user consistently recommends interesting content before other users, then they will emerge as a kind of expert recommender."

      > I think the only way that I would consider this feature a good thing is if it had no "identity,"

      But then how would you know Expert Recommender actually works for Sony, which is how he 'consistently... [gets] interesting content before other users' sounds like a perfect setup for astroturfing to me.

  • The documents detailing the method were found to be already available on the P2P networks, though instead of having a trail of previous owners attached, it included a "revealing" photo of Sir Howard Stringer sporting the caption, "Patent this!"
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:22AM (#15935427)
    Why was the first thing I thought "How are they gonna abuse it?"?

    Instead of thinking that this might be a useful feature to actually discriminate between good and bad content, why was the first thing I was thinking about the question how Sony would use this feature to rip me off? The idea itself sounds quite interesting...

    Riiiiiight! Defensive patent! If you patent it, nobody can implement it. Nobody could rate their fakes down into the basement when they try to poison the seeds of torrents and eMule.

    gotcha!
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:26AM (#15935454)
    Sony describes a method for attaching a user history to content when it is shared among computers or other devices.

    This is clearly a stealth attack on P2P. A wolf in sheep's clothing. By attaching a history to every file you've altered the file. That ends multi-homed downloads since every bit changed in a file changes it hash code and makes it not match any other version. As such, a file like this would only be able to be downloaded from one source, provided that they have the whole file, and stay on line long enough for you to receive it.

    And just what evidence such a file on your machine might provide in court is equally dangerous. You would no longer be able to claim you ripped the file yourself, even if you were holding the CD in your hand, because their lawyer would point to its trail around the Internet in reaching you. Bad Move!!

    Sony clearly does not have P2P user's interests at heart as they tout this as a must have feature for the future of P2P.

    • That was the first thought that I had when I read this... of course... why would they patent it?

      One possibility is that nobody would go with a standard that Sony put out for this sort of thing, since the standards body would see right through it. However, if Sony offered a product like this, and you don't care much for their copyrights to begin with, why would you mind writing a clone into your P2P client?

      It all starts to sound like hokey conspiracy theories at that point, but, eh, it was my first thought
    • by julesh ( 229690 )
      It's quite clear that Sony's plan is to set up a pay-to-download P2P network, possibly with the get-paid-to-upload feature that I heard suggested a while back. This kind of information tracking would be essential for such a network.

      (N.b. it would be trivially easy to transfer file and metadata under separate hashes to allow multihomed downloads to work with such a system; you'd have to determine some set of rules for how to merge the multiple different metadata records into s single consolidated record, bu
    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
      While I agree that such a scheme is more likely to be used against P2P networks, I also had the thought that this is exactly what's needed to implement a micropayment system where P2P users could get paid for legally distributing content. And that could be a step toward "legitimizing" P2P in the eyes of the big content holders.

      That aside, software patents are by definition bogus, and they were right to deny it no matter *what* its motivation was.

  • Suppose Sony actually gets the patent granted. How would this change the experience more than having it not pantented? With it not pantented anyone can add this. And even if it were patented, why would every P2P program all of a sudden be required to have this feature?
    • by rob1980 ( 941751 )
      Exactly. I could see them going this route if they wanted to set up some kind of a legitimate subscription-based P2P network, but even if they got the patent it's not as if you'd suddenly load up Limewire one day and have it start tracking everything you do.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )
      That actually IS exactly the difference. Everyone can implement a rating system. And many P2P Systems have one, as metadata, not attached to the file, but rather to the P2P info around it.

      Thus, it is easy to label fakes, spam, viruses and so on. It makes it harder to "poison" the P2P system with fakes and questionable payload. You download something, label it crap if it is and the next person knows he needn't download it for it is a fake anyway.

      Now, it ain't been too long ago that some studios had the brill
  • Come on now people think about this, Sure the extra info is nice, but it would be a good way to track the content provider...then here comes the RIAA and MPAA lawyers to nail you.
    Given Sony's track record what do you think their real motivation is?

  • ...a patent application getting rejected is headline material!
  • sort of useless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by krell ( 896769 )
    The comment/review sections would quickly fill up with spams attached to the typically long-gone junk IP/etc addresses typically used by spammers.
  • 1) This summer has shown just low the standards have become for what is considered news. 2) If Sony was granted this patent, it would need to pertain to an application that they develop for P2P use, since prior art would not let it effect "inventions" that are already being used (called metadata) 3) Please, please stop spreading FUD as facts, you're scaring the children.
  • poor sony (Score:4, Funny)

    by glsunder ( 241984 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @12:05PM (#15935735)
    When was the last time they got good press? What's next? "Sony CEO shoots man in face"?
  • Would this enchanced format require the death of MP3 to accomodate it? Replaced, perhaps, by something much more DRM-friendly?
  • by geobeck ( 924637 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @01:12PM (#15936194) Homepage

    All they have to do is convince the US Patent and Trademark Office to patent the process of granting patents. Then the USPTO can go after those unscrupulous Brits who dare to abuse the God-given American right to patent the hell out of everything.

    What? You don't think Tony the (paper) Tiger Blair would bend over for this?

  • Sony's patent agent, Dr Jonathan DeVile [..] said the examiners were wrong, that the inventions cannot be a program for a computer because, in operation, there are at least two computers involved, communicating over a network.

    Dear lord, what interesting hoops that man's mind must be able to jump through to earn his paycheck. Doctor of what? Some bizarre form of n-dimensional logic where if you throw your bullshit far enough it comes back as the truth?

  • Arrgh matey, methinks they be feelin' the sting of me cutlass!
    They'll be walkin' the plank soon lads, soon.

    After the rootkit debacle, anything that goes bad for Sony is music to my ears! They (and their **AA cronies) seem to be losing their grip on reality more every day. They are starting to sound desperate and panicky. w00t!
  • This isn't a DRM story or a P2P story, it's a software patent story.

    Sony can use the tech, they just can't force other media companies to pay them for it.

"I say we take off; nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." - Corporal Hicks, in "Aliens"

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