updated 04:45 pm EDT, Fri July 13, 2007
Zune to Zune Buying Patent
Microsoft has put in motion a patent that would let it enhance the Wi-Fi features of the Zune in a way that could please both music producers and Zune players, according to a newly published filing. The technique describes creating what would amount to an "off-line economy" where users would be able to buy tracks before they get within range of an Internet connection, the patent notes. Tracks could be sent from one player to another flagged with their purchase values; synchronizing the player with a PC would immediately transmit the information to an online store, which would approve the track for permanent use and charge the recipient for the value of the content in question.
The system, filed almost a year before the Zune's November 2006 debut, would not only fit into the existing uses of the player but could potentially solve piracy concerns regardless of whether the sender's copies are legitimate, Microsoft adds. As long as the technology was able to recognize the track, a sale would still take place for the recipient. Senders could also be rewarded for encouraging a sale by collecting a share of the profit.
As a patent, the technology is not guaranteed to become part of a future Zune update but opens an opportunity to Microsoft to derestrict shared music, which so far expires after three uses or three days.