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Posted at 03:45 PM ET, 06/20/2011

Apple patent would stop iPhone concert recordings

Concertgoers hold up their phones as Bruno Mars performs during the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto on June 19, 2011. (Darren Calabrese - AP)
It’s an art-form, really. I’m talking about that grainy, handheld cell-phone footage of a concert, uploaded to Facebook or YouTube that lets everyone know: yeah, you were there.

But a report from the Daily Mail indicates that Apple’s at least thinking about a way to put a stop to amateur concert flicks. The report analyzed a patent first discovered by the UK paper The Times and found that Apple is developing software to shut down a phone’s cameras when concert-goers hold up their phones and trigger infrared sensors within a concert venue.

The report was a bit unclear as to whether the still camera would also be disabled, preventing audience members from taking photos as well.

It’s important to stress here that this is just a patent application that Apple has filed, which means that it’s far from certain that the company will actually use the technology at all.

Still, it adds to a debate gaining momentum as consumers rely increasingly on services provided by their gadget manufacturers: When you buy a device, should you have the right to do whatever you want with it?

This debate wasn’t an issue with, say, your old Walkman. But it was at the heart of the Sony PS3 hacking lawsuit, after George Hotz hacked his console to run his own programs and then posted code to let others do the same. The hackers and homebrewers said that they’d bought the console and should be able to modify it any way they liked. Sony sued to say that cracked consoles encouraged piracy and other bad behavior on its online networks. That led to the hacktivist group Anonymous hitting Sony with denial of service attacks, which may have let other hackers slip under the radar and take down its networks.

The same debate exists among those who jailbreak their iPhones and iPads to run non-Apple software. Messing with your Apple device won’t lead to a lawsuit, just maybe a voided warranty, but the central discussion is the same.

With concerts, there’s the additional layer, of course, that you’re really not supposed to be recording the event at all. But should it be Apple’s responsibility to police the behavior of its customers? Or is the idea put forth in the patent going too far?

YOUR TAKE: Should Apple be able to decide what you do with your phone? 

What do you think about Apple's patent? Should Apple have the power to decide what phone users record with their phones? Tell us, use #iPhoneCensors on Twitter and we'll post some responses right here.

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By  |  03:45 PM ET, 06/20/2011

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