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Disney tempts kids with cartoons for calories

Wireless downloads for fat clients

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Fast food, DRM-laced kids cartoons and constant whinging. Yes, parents have a bright future to look forward to should Disney get its way with a US patent proposal.

Patent application 20050252958 looks harmless enough at first blush. "System and method for wireless transfer of data content to a portable device." That can't be too bad, right?

Something more sinister, however, appears as you look deeper into Disney's aspirations.

Disney has proposed that fast food companies could sell media players along with special kids meals and hook the youngsters to greasy sandwiches and Disney content. When your child walks into McDonald's, for example, and buys a kids meal, he's entitled to just one part of a short Disney cartoon that downloads automatically to the media device. To get the rest of the video, the child needs to return to McDonald's and purchase more meals.

"It can be seen that the downloading of small sections or parts of content can be spread out over a long period of time, e.g., 5 days," Disney writes in its patent application. "Each time a different part of the content, such as a movie, is downloaded, until the entire movie is accumulated. Thus, as a promotional program with a venue, such as McDonald's restaurant, a video, video game, new character for a game, etc., can be sent to the portable media player through a wireless internet connection, such as Wi Fi, as an alternative to giving out toys with Happy Meals or some other promotion. The foregoing may be accomplished each time the player is within range of a Wi Fi or other wireless access point.

"The reward for eating at a restaurant, for example, could be the automatic downloading of a segment of a movie or the like, or a short animated clip or cartoon."

We think this could open a whole new world for Bambi Burgers and Nemo Fillets. You can hear the ad now.

"Every Bambi Burger you buy brings your child one step closer to being able to watch Mother Bambi killed by the hunter in slow motion on an iPod again and again and again. Guaranteed 100 per cent orphan venison used in all Bambi Burgers."

It's a rich future to be sure.

Thankfully, it seems hard to imagine that Disney will be granted this rather broad patent. ®

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