The invention relates to a method, an apparatus, and a
recording medium for recording multimedia content, and more specifically to a method,
an apparatus, and a recording medium allowing controlled access to multimedia content.
A plurality of such methods, apparatuses, and recording
media, especially for renting or selling movies, audio files, or games, are known.
discloses a Kiosk machine that allows customers to browse a title database,
view title descriptions, and then have a copy of the titles saved to a DVD disk.
Payment is effected via credit card. The customer can either purchase or rent the
titles. The kiosk verifies the customer's age for compliance with age restrictions
of the selected titles. For this purpose data on the customer's credit card or driver's
license is read. As an alternative, an attendant may verify the age and provide
a code that permits to access the selected titles. A drawback of this approach is
that a plurality of recordable DVDs need to be stored in the Kiosk, which increases
the size of the Kiosk. In addition, the renting or purchasing operation cannot be
performed anonymously, as the user needs to give credit card information for payment.
In order to allow an anonymous renting or purchasing operation,
and to circumvent the storage of recording media in the kiosk, it has been proposed
to use prepaid recording media for payment of multimedia content. The recording
media are bought in advance, e.g. in video stores etc., and have a certain value,
which is then used for payment at the time of recording the multimedia content.
As the purchase of the prepaid recording medium and the recording operation may
take place at completely different times and different locations, the customer remains
anonymous when recording the multimedia content. However, in case an age verification
is needed to control access to specific multimedia content, at the time of the recording
operation an identity card has to be provided. This means that the anonymity of
the customer is no longer ensured.
It is an object of the present invention to propose a solution
for recording multimedia content enabling controlled access to the multimedia content.
According to the invention, this object is achieved by
a recording medium for recording multimedia content, with an indicator for indicating
which multimedia content is allowed to be recorded on the recording medium, which
specifies an age rating for the multimedia content. The indicator on the recording
medium specifies multimedia content limitations, i.e. it allows to control which
multimedia content is approved for recording on the recording medium. The solution
according to the invention allows to restrict or enable access to multimedia content
solely based on the recording medium on which the multimedia content is to be recorded.
No user identification is necessary. Consequently, no means for identifying the
user, e.g. an identity or credit card reader is needed. At the time of purchasing
the recording medium the customer's age is verified. The recording medium indicates
this age, e.g. in the form of the date of birth, or by simply specifying an age
rating such as 'rated up to 16 years'. In this way it is ensured that no inappropriate
multimedia content can be recorded on the recording medium.
In addition to the age rating the indicator may also indicate
other limitations related to a property of the multimedia content. The property
advantageously is at least one of a producer, a release date, a producing studio,
an actor, a genre, and an inclusion in a promotion campaign. These properties are
especially useful if the indicator is used for promotional purposes. For example,
a movie producing studio may distribute recording media which allow to record for
free all movies produced by the studio having a release date at least five years
Advantageously, the indicator can be modified. In the case
of an age restriction, for example, the restriction can be lowered or raised. This
would allow an adult to adjust the age restriction to the age of his children. The
possibility to modify the indicator is advantageously protected by a password.
Preferably, the recording medium has different indicators
for different users. The different indicators may be, for example, different age
restrictions for different family members. Each indicator is preferably associated
with a specific password. Upon entering a password the corresponding indicator is
identified and used.
In the case of age restrictions, advantageously each user
has the possibility to modify his age restriction. However, the age restriction
may not be raised over its initial value, which is preferably also recorded on the
recording medium. Optionally one user may have the status of a master user, which
can modify the restrictions for all users and add new users.
A method according to the invention for recording multimedia
content on a recording medium has the steps of:
- comparing the multimedia content to be recorded with a content limitation indicator
on the recording medium, which specifies an age rating for the multimedia content;
- recording the multimedia content on the recording medium in case the multimedia
content fulfills the limitations specified by the content limitation indicator.
For implementing a method according to the invention, an
apparatus for recording multimedia content on a recording medium has:
- a verification unit for comparing the multimedia content to be recorded with
a content limitation indicator on the recording medium, which specifies an age rating
for the multimedia content; and
- a recording device for recording the multimedia content on the recording medium.
For a better understanding the invention shall now be explained
in more detail in the following description with reference to the figures. It is
understood that the invention is not limited to this exemplary embodiment and that
specified features can also expediently be combined and/or modified without departing
from the scope of the present invention. In the figures:
- Fig. 1
- shows an optical recording medium according to the invention;
- Fig. 2
- illustrates a method according to the invention for recording movies; and
- Fig. 3
- schematically shows a DVD kiosk implementing a method according to the invention.
In the following the invention is explained for a method
for renting a movie on a DVD. Of course, the invention is not limited to this example.
The invention is likewise applicable to other types of multimedia content, such
as music, software, games, pictures, text, or other types of data. Similarly, recording
can also be performed on other types of recording media, e.g. other types of optical
disks (Compact Disk, BluRay Disk, High Density Digital Versatile Disk, Holographic
Disk or Card, etc.), tapes, storage cards, etc.
In Fig. 1 an optical recording medium 1 according to the
invention is shown. The recording medium 1 has a data recording area 2 and a special
area 3 for a content limitation indicator 4. In the figure the special area 3 is
illustrated as an area distinct from the data recording area 2. However, the indicator
4 may likewise be recorded in the data recording area 2.
Fig. 2 illustrates a method according to the invention
for renting movies. A customer who wants to rent a movie first buys 10 a prepaid,
recordable or rewritable DVD. This DVD can preferably be purchased at a plurality
of locations, e.g. at gas stations, supermarkets or convenience stores, diners,
bus or trains stations etc. At the time of purchase, the customer is asked for an
identification document to verify his age. According to one solution, the customer
then receives a DVD indicating that movies rated 6, 12, 14, 16 or 18 years, by way
of example, are allowed to be recorded. This indication is fixed, which has the
advantage that it cannot easily be hacked. In this case, however, different types
of DVDs have to be provided. According to a further solution, the DVD indicates
the date of birth of the owner. This indication is recorded on the DVD using special
equipment. Preferably, the indication is secured to prevent illegal alterations
of the indication. In this case only one type of DVD is needed.
The prepaid DVD either has a fixed initial value or is
loaded with a variable amount. The amount is recorded on the DVD and is preferably
protected. It may be indicated as a monetary value (e.g. EUR or USD), a proprietary
value ("movie points", etc.), the number of rentable movies, or the like.
According to a further aspect of the invention, instead
of obtaining 10 a prepaid recordable DVD with an age indication, a customer may
be provided 11 with a recordable DVD having a different indication. For example,
a video distributor or a studio distributes recordable DVDs for promotional purposes.
An indicator on the DVD specifies which movies may be recorded
on the DVD, e.g. only movies produced by a specific studio, movies with a release
date before a specified date, movies belonging to special promotion campaign, etc.
When the customer intends to rent a movie, he inserts 12
the prepaid or promotional DVD in a recording apparatus of a renting terminal (kiosk).
The renting terminal verifies 13 the age of the customer using the indicator on
the DVD and/or checks for other content limitations indicated on the DVD. A list
of available movies is then automatically limited 14 to titles complying to the
age and/or the other limitations. The customer can then select 15 a movie (or a
plurality of movies) from the list of available movies. After selecting 15 a movie,
the movie is recorded 16 to the recordable DVD. In case of a normal prepaid DVD,
after recording 16 the movie the corresponding fee is debited 17 from the prepaid
DVD. In case of a promotional DVD, the DVD may be invalidated 18 to prevent further
In Fig. 3 a DVD kiosk 20 implementing a method according
to the invention is shown schematically. The kiosk 20 has a display 21 and a keyboard
22 for interaction with a customer. Of course, other types of user interface can
also be employed, e.g. a touch screen etc. The customer inserts the prepaid or promotional,
recordable or rewritable DVD into a recording device 23 of the kiosk 20. Preferably,
the recording device 23 uses a slot loading mechanism, which reduces the risk of
damage. However, the recording device 23 can also use a tray for receiving the DVD.
The kiosk further includes a verification unit 24 for verifying the customer's age
and/or other content limitations based on the indicator on the DVD. After verification
a list of available movies is displayed. The list may already be limited based on
the content limitations, or at least indicates which of the displayed movies may
be recorded. Using the keyboard 22 the user selects one or more of the movies, which
are then recorded on the DVD by the recording device 23.
Though in the above the invention has been described for
a multimedia content distribution system based on prepaid media, the invention is
not limited to such a renting system. It can also be implemented with usual recording
media. In this case the age indication is especially advantageous. Minors would
only be allowed to purchase recording media in accordance with their age. Inappropriate
content could not be recorded on those recording media, e.g. using a DVD recorder
in a PC or a stand-alone DVD-Recorder for recording TV-signals.