Security software company McAfee has patented a new technology that aims to prevent the public from accessing pirated movies and music online. The system, which expands the SiteAdvisor tool, can detect and block pirated material from any website and present users with authorized and legal alternatives. McAfee says the technology will help steer consumers to authorized services and thereby prevent costly lawsuits.
For years copyright holders have urged search engines and Internet providers to make it harder for users to access infringing content online.
Thus far these efforts have been in vain, but anti-virus vendor McAfee has now presented a technology that will please rightholders. A new patent published by the California-based company describes a system that can prevent users from accessing pirate content.
Titled “Detect and prevent illegal consumption of content on the internet,” the patent covers a blocklist-type system that can either warn consumers, completely block access to web pages, or offer purchasing advice.
The flow-chart below shows the various steps involved.
Pirate or not?
According to McAfee there are many reasons for consumers and corporations to be concerned with the downloading of illegal content, ranging from legal risks to malware and virus threats.
“One major reason for concern is possible violation of an Intellectual Property right and the potential cost ramifications associated with such a violation,” the company explains.
“A second major concern could relate to potential threats cause by some unauthorized distributions. For example, it is not uncommon for an unauthorized distribution of material on the Internet to include malicious material.”
McAfee presents their solution as an extension to its widely used SiteAdvisor tool, targeted at both individual consumers and business clients. Threats can be detected in search engines where pirate results get a warning label, but also on social networks including Facebook.
Piracy indicator in Google
In addition to blocking access to pirated content the technology also has the capability to point users to legal alternative sources for the same, or similar content.
“By informing a user of illegal sources and possible alternatives, a user can obtain the desired electronic distribution without violating an author’s intellectual property rights,” McAfee writes.
Those who click on a pirate link will be pointed to a new screen where users can learn more about the warning. Depending on how the software is set up users may then take the risk and click through to the site. This is similar to how Google, Firefox and other online services already respond to links pointing to malware threats.
Piracy indicator in Google
By preventing people from inadvertently visiting pirate websites, McAfee hopes that the technology will educate consumers on how to make the right choices when looking for entertainment online.
Whether there are any concrete plans to roll out the system is unknown at this point. The most likely option is that it will be added to McAfee’s existing security products.
If so, we can expect copyright holders to push for a wide adoption of the software.