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:
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.