A recently discovered Microsoft patent application titled "Off-line Economies for Digital Media" describes how Zune owners can get paid for sharing music. The Zune MP3 player has a unique ability to transfer songs wirelessly from Zune to Zune. According to the patent, Microsoft would like to erect a system by which pirated music (yes the term pirated is used in the document several times) can be transferred to other Zune devices, and the sender can be paid a sales commission. Of course this would work with legally obtained music also.
A common misconception is that iTunes is the 3rd largest distributor of music overall and the largest online distributor. Unfortunately the truth is that illegal download sites distribute more music than iTunes, Walmart, Amazon, and Best Buy put together.
The technology proposed by Microsoft would essentially allow them to capitalize on this by "encrypting" songs transferred offline (in other words Zune to Zune). The person receiving the file could use it three times, then be forced to pay for the song. Once the song is paid for sales commission go to the sender and Zune Marketplace while the bulk of the money would go to the copyright holder. They system would essentially convert illegal music into legal music. It would also give a strong retail presence to Zune by creating 1 million traveling salesmen of all ages.
Microsoft, Zune, Paid Zune, Music, Sharing, Patent, Zune News