TiVo: a brief day in the sun

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PVRBlog notes NBC is griping about TiVoToGo syncing recorded shows over to a video iPod. As they note, NBC doesn't have a leg to stand on. What should be noted here is that this is why companies like NBC are so into the idea of a mandatory broadcast flag. That guide is worth reading.

I wrote my Congressman a while back - John Carter of the 31st district of Texas, about this issue. I got back a fairly standard "thanks for writing" response. However, I'd like to excerpt a bit of his reply:

[...] It is important to find a balance between protecting intellectual property rights while also maintaining high quality distribution

As you may know, a boradcast flag is a sequence of digital bits embedded in a television program that signals that the program must be protected from unauthorized redistribution. This signal does not distort the viewed picture in any way. Implementation of this broadcast flag will permit digital TV stations to obtain high value content and assure consumers a continued source of attractive, free, over-the-air programming without limiting the consumer's ability to make personal copies. This issue has received growing attention over the last year because of the December 31, 2006 deadline that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has placed on the transfer from analog to digital broadcast.

He goes on to note that a court ruled the FCC doesn't have the authority to set that deadline, and says the house is considering legislation to GRANT that authority to the FCC.

You can see the tilt apparent in the letter. Whether this is misinformation that has been fed to my Congressman, and he actually believes that, or whether he is simply a victim of media company propaganda, I don't know. But I do know that it is self-evident that "assuring consumers a continued source of attractive, free, over-the-air programming" doesn't require a Broadcast flag, and that it will be used to limit their ability to make personal copies.

It is ironic, of course, that the content industry has fought tooth and nail against every innovation, despite the fact that they have universally just expanded the market. Can you imagine a world without VCRs or DVD players? (Let alone TiVo) That's the world the MPAA wanted. They failed, but in the Broadcast Flag, they may yet succeed. After all, what good will your VCR (or TiVo) be if it has to obey a Broadcast Flag and simply not record things?

As EFF says, "In short, the Broadcast Flag is about the movie studios demanding unprecedented veto power over digital technology because they believe they can see into the future and have the right to knee-cap technological innovation, free competition, and consumer rights in order to prop up aging business models."

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This page contains a single entry by Matt published on November 28, 2005 11:53 AM.

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