You may have heard a rumor floating about the internet that the Zune would adopt an incentive-based distribution system. The idea, supposedly, is that each song sent to your Zune-toting buddy that he/she decided to buy at your recommendation would earn you a small reward (think Zune Marketplace Points) for promoting and sharing legal digital music. Good Morning Silicon Valley revived the discussion on Wednesday, and points out that J Allard recently discussed the system at the Music Tech Summit in Seattle, but Microsoft has made no official remarks on the topic. Well we went digging through the US Patent and Trade Office site and came across a 2003 filing from Redmond that describes a very similar system that says "The first license also specifies the conditions upon which the content may be redistributed and licensed for use on a second device" and that "these conditions may specify a price for the second license, and/or a requirement that a portion of the purchase price be paid back to the owner of the first license, and/or a requirement that the first license be revoked upon creation of the second license." GMSV also says that there seems to be some confusion about the role of Shared Media Licensing, the parent company of Weedshare.com, which apparently has a very similar patent. Still, the question remains, if this really exists, when's Redmond going to let it see the light of day?

[Via Good Morning Silicon Valley, thanks Gern B.]