McAfee is looking to reduce both the amount of piracy and the number of related malware threats.
TorrentFreak reports that security software firm McAfee has patented technology that detects and blocks pirated content. This anti-piracy system expands on the company's SiteAdvisor tool, and will prevent users from downloading copyrighted media from any website while presenting them with authorized and legal alternatives.
"For example, a user might be likely to visit an inappropriate distribution site when sent a message containing a link or when search results from a search engine query identify a plurality of distributors for a requested movie, song, book, etc.," reads the patent's abstract. "By informing a user of illegal sources and possible alternatives, a user can obtain the desired electronic distribution without violating an author's intellectual property rights."
The patent, called "Detect and prevent illegal consumption of content on the Internet", was filed in October 4, 2012 and made public on April 18, 2013. It works by intercepting an URL the user enters into the browser and sending it to an intermediary server. This URL is analyzed and compared to information about other web sites, and then the server responds with information about the URL and alternative downloads. If the address is clean, then the user is allowed to move forward.
McAfee's attempt to curb piracy is an obvious move to reduce the number of malware and virus threats stemming from laced downloads. McAfee also states that this method will help customers avoid legal risks that could arise from inadvertently or purposely downloading copyrighted content.
"One major reason for concern is possible violation of an Intellectual Property right and the potential cost ramifications associated with such a violation," the company explains. "A second major concern could relate to potential threats cause by some unauthorized distributions. For example, it is not uncommon for an unauthorized distribution of material on the Internet to include malicious material."
Of course, consumers will actually need to install the software first to protect themselves from their pirating tendencies. McAfee suggests that the tech be incorporated into its SiteAdvisor tool for consumers and business clients. Threats can be detected in both public search engines, and those used within social networks like Facebook.
For businesses, this would be ideal for preventing employees from inadvertently or directly consuming illegal content while on the clock. However McAfee's anti-piracy efforts may not be quite so successful on a voluntary consumer level. That said, if the patent is approved, there's a good chance this system will silently become an included feature in the company's existing and upcoming security products.