tim cook censorship

Apple granted patent for automatic censorship technology

The tech giant filed a patent back in September 2014, dubbed the “Management, Replacement and Removal of Explicit Lyrics during Audio Playback”, which outlines technology that can automatically scan songs, detect and mark the so-called offensive parts, and then edit them. In the patent, Apple states that the system can replace these words with a beeping noise or non-explicit lyrics.

It can also separate the music behind the lyrics and remove any content it deems offensive, creating a seamless listening experience. That is, unless you know the lyrics and are singing along only to find out Apple took out the best parts!

A sketch from the patent filing:
apple granted patent

Not just music

Apple’s patent isn’t limited to just music. It mentions audio books, as well. Using this new technology, they can edit out swear words or sex scenes in books to “make them suitable for children”, whatever that means. I’d like to read the kid-friendly version of 50 Shades of Grey (hint: all food, no sex). As part of its analysis, it can compare the words it finds to a library of explicit terms. Being on the team in charge of keeping that list updated sounds like a fun job. Though, if you’re the type of person that would enjoy such work, you probably don’t think those words are very offensive.

Given that what’s considered explicit changes depending on which country you’re in, I’m not sure whether these rules will be applied universally. America is quite puritan in how it approaches bad words, while England believes that we’re all adults here and swearing is effective and fun. And while Apple hasn’t stated that they’re going to start censoring music on iTunes Apple Music (but they already do, so there’s that), given their history of censoring things they deem offensive, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do.

About the Author

Steven Sacks

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Steven Sacks is the founder of deephouse.com and has been playing house music since 1992, though his musical roots go back much further, playing piano throughout his childhood and synths in bands during high school. With humble beginnings in the early San Francisco rave scene, he developed a distinctive style that is as creative as it is technical. Rather than simply play one record after another, he uses tracks as tools to create long mixes with depth and texture that take listeners on a musical journey while setting a vibe that makes you want to dance. Steven has headlined with some of the biggest names in the world, including Harvey, Heather, Mark Farina, Miles Maeda, Carl Craig, Sneak, H-Foundation, Kerri Chandler, Terrence Parker, Kevin Saunderson, Kevin Yost, and many more. Now living in Tokyo, he is establishing his unique style in the city’s incredible underground house scene.