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In many aspects of society there is a constant battle for control. This is an issue that has become especially prevalent in the music sphere, as the question has arisen as to who is truly in control at a concert, or music festival. The performer? Or the patron? The general core of the conflict centers around the position that many artists have taken – which is that of attempting to prohibit recording their shows, from pictures to videos, but also to go as far as to attempt to stop cell phone use entirely at their shows. With a few musicians having actually taken action on this precedent, a new force has entered the conflict, and a big one at that. Apple, one of the foremost powerful technology and music sharing companies is now taking steps in to this gray area by way of a patent. A patent that would definitively support that of the musician’s side.

Apple has recently been granted a patent that they originally filed for in 2011, but then renegotiated for in 2014, in which they would be able to use new technology in order to stop IPhone from being able to take videos and or pictures at concerts. Though the patent has a variety of uses, this aspect of the patent has gotten the most attention as it is the one most applicable to the growing conflict. The way that the patent works is that, through an enhanced camera, would lead to the camera being able to detect the type of infrared lights that are transmitted by the lights at the venue, and then based on that detection, would be able to disable to recording aspects of the phone when attempting to take said picture or video. Since this patent was awarded to Apple, that means that at some point in the future, on a future version of the IPhone, there may be this kind of technology. And seeing as how IPhones are pretty much the number one type of cell phone is use, this would eliminate a vast majority of concert goers from being able to video, or even simply take a picture, while at a show.


This all comes after a few public displays of displeasure by artists at recent shows. Most notably with Adele calling out someone in the front row who set up a tripod in order to record the show, with Alicia Keys implementing the use of electronic bags that lock in peoples phones while in the venue, and recently the lead singer of the group The Maine telling his Warped Tour audience at their show to put away their phones and be in the moment. This, for all intents and purposes, is a very hard conflict as it is so layered. On the one hand, you have the artists, who, for the most part do not want people bootlegging their shows and attempting to sell it. In the case of Adele, that was completely understandable as the person visibly set up a tripod right in front of her. Now obviously a tripod is not for simply taking a few pictures, but rather was to assumedly record and attempt to distribute the concert.  Yet it seems that to stop a couple of bad apples, many just want to cut down the entire tree.

All of this then leads to the question of, if someone is paying their hard earned money to see you in concert, does that give you the right to tell them how they are to enjoy the show? Though an artist may want their audience to be in the moment that still is essentially the audience’s decision. One of the great things about art, including music, is that there are no limits in what you can do with it, and also, no one can tell you what to like, or how to like it. Art is essentially both the freedom of expression, and the freedom of consumption – it is all about being able to experience things in your own way. By telling someone how they are to enjoy a show, does that not take something out of the enjoyment? Does that mot place in a level of control that art has always sought to escape? Is it not enough to simply know that your audience is there and cares so much as to want to keep a part of this moment forever, whether by picture or a video? How can anyone make a definitive answer on such a problem when it all comes down to how people want to spend their time, their money, and their life?

At the end of the day, this patent is merely a thought in Apples mind, and does not seem like it will be implemented right away. Along with that it also doesn’t seem like this conflict will be going away any times soon. Only time will tell who will win this fight for control, and as the line grows deeper and deeper into the sand, it will be interesting to see if Apple chooses to keep this weapon in their arsenal, or actually take that step and change the way future generations see concerts for the foreseeable future.

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