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New Apple Patent Could Block Concertgoers From Recording Live Shows

Ethan Miller, Getty Images
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

If you’ve ever wished you could ban the use of cell phones during concerts — the obstructed view! the endless filming! the misery of it all! — you may soon be in luck: A new Apple patent could put an end to any and all photo and video-taking.

The system indicated in the patent — which Apple first filed for in 2009 and was finally awarded this week according to Pitchfork — uses infrared emitters for a more interactive experience — including temporarily barring any mobile devices (phones, laptops, cameras, etc.) within a specified area from recording video or photos.

While there’s no concrete proof that Apple will actually use the patent to stop people from filming at concerts — or that the patent will go anywhere at all — the technology mammoth did use the live-show example as part of its application, indicating it may choose to implement its use in the future.

Regardless, the want is there: Alicia Keys recently enforced the use of a neoprene case created by the company Yondr at one of her concerts to prohibit fans from using their phones at all. As soon as a fan walks into a venue that’s using Yondr, they are instructed to place their phone in a provided pouch, which is then locked — ensuring the fan is unable to use his or her phone during the show.

From an artist’s perspective, It’s understandable to want to limit the use of recording devices during live shows — not only does it obstruct the view for other concertgoers, but new material debuted during the show always finds its way online, and many fans are introduced to a new song via shaky, incomprehensible audio. Further, any acts wishing to monetize their live shows may find it difficult to do so if a rip of their concerts finds its way online every night.

But on the other hand, it limits a concertgoer’s freedom in a way that seems scarily totalitarian and, in Yondr’s case, unsafe — with Apple’s patent fans can still use their phones for texting and calling. But with Yondr, fans are unable to use their phones at all. It feels a little extreme.

Pitchfork reports many patents never “reach the market,” so only time will tell whether Apple implements this system or not.

Next: Alicia Keys Uses Controversial Product to Ban Phones from Concert

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