Last week I was frustrated in my attempt to take a screen grab of a frame from the cartoon Gravity Falls, which I was playing in iTunes on my Mac. The screen grab image showed the player window as gray-and-white checkerboard. Next, I downloaded a 3rd party screen grab application, and it gave me the same result. I ended up taking a photo of the iMac's display with my camera. (The photo is in this post -- it's the one with the cartoony occult symbols). Thanks to Apple's bullshit deal with the studios, the image has crappy video artifacts in it.
On Tuesday, Apple was granted a patent that could prevent photos and videos from being taken in particular locations. Other restrictions include forcing the camera to go to sleep so it cann't be used at all:
Apparatus and methods for changing one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device, such as upon the occurrence of a certain event. In one embodiment, the event comprises detecting that the wireless device is within range of one or more other devices. In another variant, the event comprises the wireless device associating with a certain access point. In this manner, various aspects of device functionality may be enabled or restricted (device “policies”). This policy enforcement capability is useful for a variety of reasons, including for example to disable noise and/or light emanating from wireless devices (such as at a movie theater), for preventing wireless devices from communicating with other wireless devices (such as in academic settings), and for forcing certain electronic devices to enter “sleep mode” when entering a sensitive area.
I imagine movie theaters would be the first to use this remote disabling feature (if Apple ever decides to move ahead with this technology; just because they have a patent doesn't mean they'll use it). The paranoid side of me imagines governments using it to prevent citizens from communicating with each other or taking video during protests.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.