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Sony patents anti-piracy technology to limit disc usage to a single console

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RFID (Radio-frequency identification) technology has been around for a while and has applications as varied as you can imagine – anything from tracking pets and studying wildlife, to completing wireless payments by cellphone, and storing extremely important level stats and item information on your Skylanders figurine. Valuable, real-world applications.

If Sony ever seeks to put a new anti-piracy (and anti-second hand games market) patent to work, however, any future console or device from the company might benefit from the use of RFID technology, too.

Sony Logo

In (very) short, what Sony’s proposed technology patent would hope to achieve is to tie the use of, for instance, a game disc to a single console, and even more specifically, a single user ID. In this way, once you’ve associated a given game disc with your console or ID, no-one else but you will be able to use that game disc and no other console but yours will be able to play it.

The way it would work is that each and every game disc manufactured for use for a given device would include an RFID chip (which can be as small as a grain of rice) on that disc. Once you’ve tethered your ID or console with the chip, it will ‘remember’ you and ostensibly make it impossible for you to lend the game to a friend and sell it on into the second-hand market, while software pirates would have another hurdle to overcome. This technology could also be used to unlock content previously ‘hidden’ on the disc, once that content has been paid for.

Here’s the patent image:

Sony RFID Disc Technology Patent

Is this a good idea? This technology certainly seems as though it could work very well, and as far as the casual gamer market is concerned, would put an end to the used games market. Software sleuths and pirates alike would no doubt find a work-around in the future, but most console owners aren’t as willing to go to extreme lengths to circumvent disc protection.

A cry has already gone out around Mother Internet as gamers rail against the potential of a game industry without the option of buying used games, while others have pointed out that if Sony went ahead with the technology in a supposed PlayStation 4, and Microsoft didn’t for its next console, the next-generation purchase decision would be made a lot easier.

What are your thoughts on this technology patent, and do you think Sony will ever put it to use?


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