Patent Hopes to Save Content From Pirates

Rhett Pardon
TULSA, Okla. – Pirating filesharers beware: Your stock of free music, images and movies could be inundated by strategically placed bogus files.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week issued a software patent that creates bogus files with attributes – such as file names and description tags – that make them appear as the real thing but are genuine low-quality recordings or movies.

Patent No. 6,732,180 also goes one step further – the software sends out thousands of decoys to frustrate peer-to-peer users with fruitless downloads. The software is designed to render media search engines ineffectual.

Patent holders John Hale and Gavin Manes say they are planning to market the invention to record labels, movie studios and software companies.

Hale, a University of Tulsa professor, and Manes, who is a doctoral student, decided to find a solution to the online pirating problem that might make them wealthy.

The idea behind the patent, Hale say, is to create bogus files that make it “like looking for a needle in a haystack."

Meanwhile, Hale and Manes said that other software companies like Overpeer and MediaDefender are working to flood P2P networks with bogus files.

But the pair appear to have the first bonafide patent covering the technology.

Overpeer holds two patents in Korea and one in Germany, and three are pending in the United States, Hale said.

Hale said that he wasn’t sure how Overpeer’s and MediaDefender’s systems work, but he said that the idea is perhaps the same.

"You make millions of clones of genies and hope that they won't find the right one," Hale said.