It’s emerged that Microsoft has patented a system by which peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing, or downloading via bittorrent, would see the integration of digital rights management (DRM).
Word comes via TomsHardware of the patent filed by Microsoft, which would help the company roll out software through digital distribution without putting too much weight on its own servers. It’s an interesting distribution model, and one that usually allows users to have their content on release day without fear of stock shortages. Of course, the general issue with heavy-duty digital distribution is the stress on servers, which generally results in slowed downloads on busy days; this is neatly turned to an advantage using P2P networking.
The description of the patent itself says that it’s for, “A DRM scheme that may be optionally invoked by the owner. With the DRM protection turned on, the media is encrypted before it is distributed in a P2P network, and is decrypted prior to its use (play back). The peers may still efficiently distribute and serve without authorisation from the owner. Nevertheless, when the media is used (played back), the client node must seek proper authorisation from the owner.”
It’s interesting to see Microsoft using terms like “media” and “play back” in its descriptions of the technology; it seems to indicate a model by which Microsoft could sell the model on to other copyright holders, allowing users to safely transfer copyrighted content across P2P networks without the risk of piracy.
For now, it’s all just a curiosity of course, but it could well lead to a world in which users can buy the rights to download a movie, have the file distributed by torrents and then have the user sent a key to unlock their content.