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Content wars

by Brooke Sever on Jul 12, 2011

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Brooke Sever
Brooke Sever

Some of the most popular content on this magazine’s website – digitalproductionme.com – is the concert videos that usually depict some kind of mayhem; whether it be an artist falling off stage, a promoter pleading for crowd calm, or a gear malfunction.

These often grainy and very shaky clips are generally courtesy of enthusiastic iPhone (and other smart phone) users filming the show and posting the footage on sites like YouTube, and consequently, entering it into the public domain.

But this kind of content is under threat, thanks to a patent quietly filed by Apple 18 months ago for technology that blocks the camera function on iPhones.

Now, I should stress that it’s still in the development stage, and that Apple hasn’t (yet) announced launch plans for the function, which uses infra-red sensors installed at venues to instruct iPhones to shut off the camera when held upright, but allow all other phone functions to be used as normal.

It’s a bold move, and one that could have a significant impact on the promotion and production of live events, particularly from a copyright perspective.

Not surprisingly, venue owners, live event broadcasters and non-recording event attendees have applauded the technology’s development, but the iPhone masses are not pleased, arguing that a ticket fee should include the right to record event proceedings.

This, of course, is the prime irritation for broadcasters and promoters who have purchased exclusive rights to film, stream and sell recordings of live events, which are often then superseded by free amateur clips online.

Venue owners and some attendees have also been upset at the sea of glowing iPhones held aloft that block the view of the stage and send thousands of intermittent flashes throughout the performance.

Some artists – Kaiser Chiefs front-man Ricky Wilson included – agree, saying that the crowd should focus on the music and the show, rather than their devices.

Whether the technology is eventually released and implemented or not, it has certainly sparked a passionate debate and has undoubtedly left many nostalgic, reminiscing about the days when there wasn’t an iPhone in sight, and the lighter flame, held high and swayed side-to-side, was King of the concert crowd.


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