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Sony's new tech could block sideloading piracy apps on Android TV

Sony envisions a monitoring app on smart TVs and streaming devices that blocks sideloaded piracy apps.
By
January 16, 2023
Android TV Sony 8K
Adamya Sharma / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Sony has filed a patent for an anti-piracy monitoring app on media players and TVs.
  • The app would block or degrade the performance of sideloaded apps that allow pirated content.
  • This would likely be for Android TV as Sony uses this platform for its smart TVs.

Sony is no stranger to fighting piracy, be it on the PlayStation side of things or in the music and video landscapes. However, the company’s latest anti-piracy measure could target Android TV.

The Japanese giant filed a new patent application to block piracy apps on smart TVs and streaming devices, Torrent Freak reported. Of course, Sony uses the Android TV platform for its smart TVs, suggesting that this anti-piracy measure could indeed come to Google’s platform in a limited fashion.

So how does this anti-piracy feature work?

The company describes the use of a system-level “monitor” application that would form part of the operating system. This application contains a block list of known pirated network resources (e.g. URLs and IP addresses) and would then identify third-party apps accessing said resources. From here, the monitor app would block the third-party app from running, throttle it to provide a degraded experience, or pause the content at irregular intervals to frustrate viewers.

This is just a patent right now, so there’s no guarantee this anti-piracy feature will actually land on commercial Sony devices. Nevertheless, it still raises plenty of questions. For one, you have to wonder whether this monitor app could hog system resources, resulting in a chugging experience on Android TV. There is a precedent for this too, as it’s not uncommon to see choppier performance in PC games with anti-piracy measures.

Would you buy a TV with an anti-piracy monitoring app?

3833 votes

Torrent Freak also points to the company’s CD rootkit scandal from 2005. This saw Sony secretly install software on PCs after users inserted an audio CD into the disc drive. The software was meant to prevent CD copying but also shipped with vulnerabilities that were exploited by malware. Furthermore, the software would report on the user’s listening habits and would prove to be difficult to uninstall.

In other words, you really have to wonder whether a future anti-piracy application on Sony’s Android TVs would introduce these same issues.