Imported: 21 Feb '17 | Published: 01 Mar '05
USPTO - Utility Patents
A system and method of detecting and thwarting the use of unauthorized imaging systems at theatrical performances. Sensors are deployed at a theatrical event to detect the IR focusing signal and/or the RF signal of an unauthorized imaging device. De-focusing signals are used to disrupt the auto focus system of imaging devices that do not use IR focusing systems. A thwarting signal comprising invisible light frequencies may be combined to produce a thwarting signal that is received by the CCD of an imaging device as white light thereby rendering the recorded image unusable.
The present invention relates generally to the field of entertainment. More specifically, the present invention is a system and method of detecting and thwarting the use of unauthorized imaging systems at theatrical performances.
Entertainment is a multibillion-dollar business. Movies, plays, and concerts represent investments that have both a time value and an intellectual property value. The time value of an entertainment asset is usually very high, but reflects the reality that over time the demand for an entertainment asset will decline as access to the asset increases or as competition from other entertainment assets increases. For example, a movie is most valuable when it is first released to theaters and the potential audience is exposed to advertising and hype about the movie. The movie declines in value over time as the audience has viewed the movie and as other movies are released.
Entertainment assets also have an intellectual property value. A movie, for example, that has completed its theater run has potential value as a video for sale or rental purposes. The movie is a copyrighted asset and that asset can be sold or licensed.
Increasingly, entertainment assets are subject to piracy. Theaters that admit patrons to movies, concerts, and plays forbid the filming or recording of performances. However, it is difficult to police such conditions of admission. Finding a video camera or other imaging system in a large, dark theater is a significant challenge. It is also the case that within days or even hours of the release of a new movie, pirated copies of varying quality are available for sale on the street. Such copies are frequently the result of an unscrupulous individual taking a video camera into the theater and simply filing or recording the movie. Copies can then be rapidly made in a “boiler room” environment and sold on the street. And this does not only apply to movies. Live concerts and performances are equally protected by the copyright laws and, unfortunately, are equally as vulnerable to this form of pirating.
What is needed is a means of detecting, locating and/or thwarting the use of an imaging system that is being used to surreptitiously film a theatrical performance.
An embodiment of the present invention is a system and method of detecting, locating and/or thwarting the use of an imaging system that is being used to surreptitiously film a theatrical event. For purposes of this application, the phrase “imaging system” is used to describe any still or movie camera whether digital or tape based having a storage medium capable of recording and reconstructing a theatrical perform. The term “thwarting” is used to describe any action that either detects that a recording is being made, stops the recording or renders the recording useless, or any combination thereof.
It is an aspect of the present invention to detect and locate an imaging system that is being used to surreptitiously film a theatrical event.
It is another aspect of the present invention to detect the infrared auto focus beam emitted by an imaging system being used to surreptitiously film a theatrical event.
It is yet another aspect of the present invention to detect the radio frequency signature of an imaging system being used to surreptitiously film a theatrical event.
It is still another aspect of the present invention to detect both still and video imaging systems.
It is an aspect of the present invention to thwart the recording of a theatrical event by an imaging system by interfering with the recording process or rendering the recording useless for viewing.
These and other aspects of the present invention will become apparent from a review of the detailed description that follows.
In one embodiment of the present invention, infrared (IR) sensors are installed on the performance area (i.e., a stage or screen) where the theatrical event is being performed and on structures to the sides and back of the performance area, and on structures above the audience. The IR sensors are sensitive to IR energy emitted by range finders (auto focus devices) used in imaging system equipment. This IR light is generally emitted by an imaging system as a main beam at a target. The target reflects the light back to the imaging system where it is received and processed to determine the distance of the target from the imaging system.
The IR light transmitters on an imaging system not only emit a main beam of IR light, but also emit less powerful side lobes that can be detected by IR sensors of the present invention located on either side of the imaging system. Further, the present invention provides IR sensors located behind the imaging system for detecting the IR radiation reflected from the target. These sensors are placed in fixed locations on the back wall of the theatre, for example, or in the case of so-called “stadium” seating, on the front walls of the various tiers of the theater. Sensors in the ceiling may also be used to pick up IR scattered by the target.
Some video cameras do not use IR for auto focus but rely on the incoming light for optimization of imaging being recorded. In these imaging systems, a CCD image sensor and an associated processor will sense incoming wave forms of light reflected from, for example, a screen in movie theater and will create an image as sharp as possible. Because the sharpest image possible requires the highest possible frequency, the system tries to find the highest frequency in the incoming image and adjust the position of the CCD to optimize reception of this frequency. In another embodiment of the present invention, a de-focusing signal is used to disrupt this type of auto focus system. In this embodiment, the de-focusing signal is a high frequency light pulse that is emitted from a source that is in front of or behind the performance area, thereby causing the imaging system to misfocus the recorded image or to cause the imaging system to constantly change in focus point. In another embodiment, a plurality of de-focusing signals is used at various focal points to disrupt the recording process.
In still anther embodiment of the present invention, a “thwarting signal” comprises a light source emitting energy in the light spectrum that is not visible to the human eye but which is detectable by the CCD of a digital imaging system. By way of example and not as a limitation, many CCDs used in video cameras are sensitive to IR energy. A thwarting signal comprising IR energy would be seen in a recording as a white light. Other invisible light frequencies may be combined to produce a thwarting signal of this kind. In another embodiment, the thwarting signal is projected onto a screen from a movie projector. In another embodiment, the thwarting signal is projected outward from the performance area of a live performance.
Because the human eye cannot detect short duration pulses of light, a thwarting signal may comprise light energy in the visible spectrum. In this embodiment, light is pulsed at high energy, but not sufficiently high to be detected by the human eye. In another embodiment, a thwarting signal comprises both light from the visible and invisible spectrum and is pulsed to thwart a recording of a theatrical event.
Referring to FIG. 1, a block diagram of embodiment according to the present invention is illustrated. A theatrical performance is performed on performance area 10 and viewed by audience 15. A member of the audience is filming the theatrical performance 20 with an imaging system (not shown). The imaging system emits both IR light 22 and an RF signature 24. Reflected IR light 26 is reflected from the focal object. Side lobes produced by the IR auto focuss system of the imaging system are radiated perpendicular to the direction of the lens. Dual sensors 30 are place at the performance area (out of view of the audience), to the sides of the audience, and at the back of the audience to receive both IR light and the RF signature of the imaging system. An RF-only sensor 32 is deployed in a seat of the audience. In a preferred embodiment, each seat would be equipped with an RF-only sensor 32.
Thwarting signal generators 40 and defocusing signal generators 45 are also illustrated.
In an embodiment of the present invention, the IR sensors are connected to a processor through a network. When the processor receives data from the IR sensors the data may be used to mathematically triangulate approximate the location of the imaging system using means known in the art.
In another embodiment of the present invention, RF detectors are used in lieu of or in addition to IR sensors. In this embodiment, the RF detectors scan the audience for an RF signature that matches a fingerprint of a digital camera. In another embodiment of the present invention, the RF detectors are used in conjunction with the IR sensors and allow the IR sensors to be focused on a suspected operating camera. Additionally, RF detectors may be installed in the audience seating fixtures.
In still another embodiment, thwarting signal generators 40 and defocusing signal generators 45 are deployed without detectors.
A system and method of detecting and thwarting the use of unauthorized imaging systems at theatrical performances has now been illustrated. It will be understood by those skilled in the art of the present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the scope of the invention disclosed and that the examples and embodiments described herein are in all respects illustrative and not restrictive. Those skilled in the art of the present invention will recognize that other embodiments using the concepts described herein are also possible.