TV networks sue maker of digital video recorder - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 55 Old 11-06-2001, 08:36 PM
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But the winds of change are--and properly I think--blowing against them at this time. What they've implemented here isn't exactly Napster, but I'd argue that the collateral effect would be pretty much the same.
The winds of change have been propelled by some very pushy lobbying by the IP interests. But if the computer and electronics manufactures start to push back then maybe some more realistic compromises may be reached. I think the attempt at SSSCA went over the limit and may act as a wakeup call for many folks. That bill would have added tremendous costs to almost everything. It's not dead but it's starting to align powerful forces against it.

Protecting IP is a nice idea but society will only pay a limited amount to do it.

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post #32 of 55 Old 11-06-2001, 08:53 PM
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Clearly I'm coming in late on this discussion, but a couple of quotes from Michael caught my eye:

"To my mind, this is just plain wrong, and if that's not intuitively clear to you, there's no point in our arguing about it. I predict that this would become the most common use of the the feature and if I were those networks, I'd get HBO, Showtime, DIRECTV and Echostar to join in the suit."

Actually, it is quite common to make a copy of a subscription channel program and lend it to a friend - examples include movies, nature documentaries, etc... And while you're certainly entitled to your opinion, it would be in a very small minority judging from the lending of recorded material that goes on at my place of work, in my family, and in my circle of friends. From that standpoint, most of us differentiate from recording of a particular program and lending it to someone else and actively stealing a continuous signal ala a "hacked" cable box or a DSS system with a test card. This differentiation may not have any legal footing, but as you've pointed out, enforcement is impossible, so the public's attitude becomes the defacto standard, if not a legal standard.

"Commercial OTA programming is provided to us on the condition that we watch the advertisements; we can skip through them in timeshifted stuff with the fast-forward button, but we have to see the images to know when to stop fast-forwarding, which is often enough to catch our attention."

While this may be the intent of the broadcasters and advertisers, I'm certain there is no legal reason to keep an individual from doing so. In fact, the TIVO box you own can easily be programmed so that the "fast forward" button will skip ahead in whatever increments you specify. Done carefully, you can program it to skip past an entire block of commercials without ever showing you a single frame from these commercials. Finally, I'm sure you understand that a good many of us will simply refuse to watch commercials altogether whether or not we have a time-shifting device - we simply place the viewing device on "mute" and leave the room to go do something else (going to get another beer from the refrigerator during a Football game is a classic example). I think you would find that most of the viewing public is quite adept at timing commercials without actually having to watch any part of them (and that's a good think IMO!).

"Making up to 15 copies of identical quality and passing them out to 15 separate people who could be located nearly anywhere in the (NTSC using) world overnight is what this allows you to do."

It's worth noting that this is already possible without this device and is done regularly everyday over the internet. To confirm this, download a copy of "bearshare" and type in the name of almost any common tv show - you're sure to find at least an episode or two.

While it is remotely possible that the MPAA or a Network association may have some success in shutting down this activity by threatening ISPs, you might also be aware that there is a strong effort in the open source community right now that will create a peer-to-peer sharing protocol that is heavily encrypted and made to transmit such that the activity is indistinguishable from normal web-browsing activity.

It is not much of a stretch to realize that no matter what the legal manuevering, the day is coming very rapidly where file-sharing by individuals over the internet is absolutely unstoppable - in much the same way that trading tapes and swapping books after you've read them is now unstoppable.

By the way - the standard argument against this coup de grace is that content distribution companies will simply encrypt the source, effectively stopping the unauthorized distribution of this content before it happens. Either fortunately or unfortunately (depending on which side of the fence you sit), this argument is dead in the water before it gets off the tongue. An great deal of the content being distributed by these peer-to-peer file sharing services is originally derived from analog duplication. Done right, very, very little of the original quality of the material is lost in this first duplication, and all subsequent duplications are digitally perfect copies.

Like it or not, this future is very close, and either the content distribution companies wake up and smell the coffee (and come up with an alternative revenue model, such as product placement), or they go the way of the dodo.
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post #33 of 55 Old 11-06-2001, 09:18 PM
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Hmmm - A logical result of this "brave new world" that technology has wrought is quite interesting. The logic goes like this:

1) File sharing is absolutely unstoppable. Even intelligent content recognition software wouldn't do it, as it would have to be deployed in every corner of the worlwide internet, which is highly unlikely. Moreover, such content recognition and filtering software would be instantly defeated since a great deal of the content would be analog-sourced and hence highly variable. A good software author could even provide intentional variability that would be ignored by the human recipient (such as high-frequency information in an audio file), but would defeat even the most intelligent of "recognition bots".

2) No amount of encryption will prevent content from making it onto the internet, since we are by nature analog, and any content must be translated to an analog format to be understood by the consumer. Therefore, subsequent digitizing of the analog format is unstoppable.

3) The current model of discrete commercial content inserted into tv broadcasts and the sale of commercial-free audio content is now unworkable.

Therefore, I can see a future where the business model shifts entirely to creating content as the commercial. TV and movies will largely be underwritten by product placement - The Sopranos is a pretty good initial example. Pop music will be transformed into a commercial - little highly distributed audio content will exist in a form other than the Britney Spear's "Pepsi Cola Song". Some purely artistic content may survive, but only by content creators with little else to lose - i.e., the "starving musician" model.

As an aside, I should state that I abhor this future, but I can already see the beginnings of it, and as I personally don't think business people are idiots, it can only get more prevalent. It would seem the NBA's ban on players using tattoos as advertising probably won't last....
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post #34 of 55 Old 11-06-2001, 09:47 PM
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How are these exact copies of shows going to be transmitted, are all my friends suddenly going to be getting gigabit connections. Everyone is screaming about transmitting movies and TV over the internet but look at the quality that you can achieve with todays bandwidth. You can compress a 90 minute movie using DIVX and end up with a 500meg file it is also 320X240 resolution with atrocious video and audio quality. But even this takes a long time to D/L with a cable modem or DSL, if you have a dialup modem, forget it. Now you are saying I will be able to send exact copies of 480p video to my friends over the internet, how ?

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post #35 of 55 Old 11-06-2001, 11:43 PM
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Originally posted by dkeller_NC
Actually, it is quite common to make a copy of a subscription channel program and lend it to a friend - examples include movies, nature documentaries, etc... And while you're certainly entitled to your opinion, it would be in a very small minority judging from the lending of recorded material that goes on at my place of work, in my family, and in my circle of friends.
First of all, "nature documentaries" aren't shown on the channels that I'm talking about. I was specifically referring to subscription movie channels and pay-per-view, for which you pay fees above and beyond your basic service. All the rest of cable television is presented with commercial interruptions and is, to my mind, no different than OTA broadcasts, and the same rules should apply. Second, taping anything from cable or DBS and lending that single tape to your friends or family to be returned to you later is distinctly different than manufacturing multiple copies of it and handing them out.
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From that standpoint, most of us differentiate from recording of a particular program and lending it to someone else and actively stealing a continuous signal ala a "hacked" cable box or a DSS system with a test card. This differentiation may not have any legal footing, but as you've pointed out, enforcement is impossible, so the public's attitude becomes the defacto standard, if not a legal standard.
If you're taping the Discovery Channel or A&E or something and passing a single copy of it around, I don't make a distinction from doing that and passing around recording of CBS--the people who you lend it to will have to deal with the recorded advertisements (assuming that you haven't edited them out :)) the same as you and thereby "pay" for watching it.
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"Commercial OTA programming is provided to us on the condition that we watch the advertisements; we can skip through them in timeshifted stuff with the fast-forward button, but we have to see the images to know when to stop fast-forwarding, which is often enough to catch our attention."

While this may be the intent of the broadcasters and advertisers, I'm certain there is no legal reason to keep an individual from doing so. In fact, the TIVO box you own can easily be programmed so that the "fast forward" button will skip ahead in whatever increments you specify. Done carefully, you can program it to skip past an entire block of commercials without ever showing you a single frame from these commercials.
I'm not aware of any such feature of TiVo--the most recent release of the software included a "skip ahead/back to the next/last tick" feature (skipping ahead or back by 1/4 of the program's length), but, while instantly skipping the advertisements in the block, you also skip all the program in it too. TiVo's Fast Forward and Reverse buttons show the video at high-speed, much more clearly than most VCRs, and you have to manually stop. The new ReplayTV has added a feature to instantly and automatically skip over the ads, which is another item in this suit.
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Finally, I'm sure you understand that a good many of us will simply refuse to watch commercials altogether whether or not we have a time-shifting device - we simply place the viewing device on "mute" and leave the room to go do something else (going to get another beer from the refrigerator during a Football game is a classic example). I think you would find that most of the viewing public is quite adept at timing commercials without actually having to watch any part of them (and that's a good think IMO!).
Fine--as long as you're willing to risk missing something at the beginning of the segment after the commercial break, if you mistime it. However, playing that game and editing the commercials out altogether are two different things. In one, the advertisers have a chance, however slim, of getting your attention, in the other, they have none. If the advertisers perceive that placing advertisements on broadcast television is ineffective, they will be unwilling to pay as much for them as they do now, and the quality of broadcast television will decrease (if that's even possible). Imagine a world where the only thing on television is "reality programming"--it's the most inexpensive stuff produced. Widely adopt technology which allows people to completely avoid watching ads and that's where we're headed.
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"Making up to 15 copies of identical quality and passing them out to 15 separate people who could be located nearly anywhere in the (NTSC using) world overnight is what this allows you to do."

It's worth noting that this is already possible without this device and is done regularly everyday over the internet. To confirm this, download a copy of "bearshare" and type in the name of almost any common tv show - you're sure to find at least an episode or two.
Yeah, but how many people know about and use "Bearshare"? I'm a computing professional who's surfed the net virtually every day since the advent of the commercial Web, and I never heard of this until you told me about it (though I had, of course, heard of Gnutella).

As I wrote my other posts in this thread, I knew that there were existing cards for tuning television and recording programs into files on your PC. I've owned them in the past. Obviously, you could use one of these to send copies of recordings to your friends and family, but how many people are likely to engage in this, using such equipment? ReplayTV is an order of magnitude easier to use than any of this stuff--once you get it configured, which I'm sure they've done everything they can to make idiot-proof, passing these recordings around will be just as easy as sending e-mail messages on AOL.
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It is not much of a stretch to realize that no matter what the legal manuevering, the day is coming very rapidly where file-sharing by individuals over the internet is absolutely unstoppable - in much the same way that trading tapes and swapping books after you've read them is now unstoppable.
In other words, when the rape is inevitable, lay down and enjoy it? Uh, no. I think that the IP holders have no choice to fight these things tooth and nail, because the lives of their businesses depend upon it. They can't deliver quality entertainment software to us if no one has to pay for it. And if no one has to pay for it, almost no one voluntarily will. Can you suggest a business model to them that works under those circumstances? I don't think that one can be devised.

The difference between passing around tapes and loaning out books and the replication factor. People don't make copies of the books that they loan for people--if the person they loaned it to liked it, there's a chance that they'll buy a copy for their own library. People don't make copies of tapes, because second generation VHS is useless. Not so with copies of digital video files.
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Like it or not, this future is very close, and either the content distribution companies wake up and smell the coffee (and come up with an alternative revenue model, such as product placement), or they go the way of the dodo.
Oh, you'd prefer that, would you? Suddenly, in the middle of the plot, Buffy turns from arguing with Giles and spends 15 seconds extolling the virtues of the Maxwell House instant cappucino they're drinking :). Just passively placing products in a scene is not going to satisfy the needs of advertising--new products require some explanation.

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post #36 of 55 Old 11-06-2001, 11:58 PM
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Originally posted by ROBERT HUNZEKER
How are these exact copies of shows going to be transmitted, are all my friends suddenly going to be getting gigabit connections. Everyone is screaming about transmitting movies and TV over the internet but look at the quality that you can achieve with todays bandwidth. You can compress a 90 minute movie using DIVX and end up with a 500meg file it is also 320X240 resolution with atrocious video and audio quality. But even this takes a long time to D/L with a cable modem or DSL, if you have a dialup modem, forget it. Now you are saying I will be able to send exact copies of 480p video to my friends over the internet, how ?

Bob H.
You have a point there. A lot of ISPs limit the uplink speed of broadband connections to 128Kbps, even for a broadband connection. I'm using Time Warner Road Runner, and right now, I'm getting 2.5Mbps down/254Kbps up. At the highest quality setting, my TiVo uses 3.3MB/hour; it would take over 30 hours to transmit a single copy of a 1 hour show. Of course, using the crappiest quality setting, it would only take an hour, but that's so poor, I doubt that broadcasters would complain about it much.

However, that's today--if you establish a precedent by allowing this practice, when network bandwidth becomes much higher, such things will be much more useful.

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post #37 of 55 Old 11-07-2001, 06:38 AM
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"I'm not aware of any such feature of TiVo--the most recent release of the software included a "skip ahead/back to the next/last tick" feature (skipping ahead or back by 1/4 of the program's length), but, while instantly skipping the advertisements in the block, you also skip all the program in it too. TiVo's Fast Forward and Reverse buttons show the video at high-speed, much more clearly than most VCRs, and you have to manually stop. The new ReplayTV has added a feature to instantly and automatically skip over the ads, which is another item in this suit."

It's not a documented feature - you have to program your unit to do this, but it is nevertheless there. After setting the unit to do this, you simply press the fast forward button once, and the recorder will skip ahead 10 seconds, 30 seconds, or whatever you've programmed it to do. Check the TIVO forum for more info.

"If the advertisers perceive that placing advertisements on broadcast television is ineffective, they will be unwilling to pay as much for them as they do now, and the quality of broadcast television will decrease (if that's even possible). Imagine a world where the only thing on television is "reality programming"--it's the most inexpensive stuff produced. Widely adopt technology which allows people to completely avoid watching ads and that's where we're headed."

On this we agree completely - and it is already happening.

"Yeah, but how many people know about and use "Bearshare"? I'm a computing professional who's surfed the net virtually every day since the advent of the commercial Web, and I never heard of this until you told me about it (though I had, of course, heard of Gnutella)."

Sorry, Mike you're just too old. ;) Just about everyone under the age of 30 with a computer is aware of Bearshare. Typical use rates are around 200,000 simultaneous users at any one time. The Fast Track network (another peer-to-peer protocol) use rate is even higher - it recently exceeded the simultaneous usage rate of Napster at its peak.

"In other words, when the rape is inevitable, lay down and enjoy it? Uh, no. I think that the IP holders have no choice to fight these things tooth and nail, because the lives of their businesses depend upon it. They can't deliver quality entertainment software to us if no one has to pay for it."

I'm not saying that IP owners will enjoy it, just that anything they attempt to do about it will be completely ineffective. Re-read the section above about the soon to be released open source peer-to-peer protocols. And you're right, the typical business model of paying for a copy of entertainment software is coming to an end - rapidly.

"Oh, you'd prefer that, would you? Suddenly, in the middle of the plot, Buffy turns from arguing with Giles and spends 15 seconds extolling the virtues of the Maxwell House instant cappucino they're drinking . Just passively placing products in a scene is not going to satisfy the needs of advertising--new products require some explanation."

No, I hate it. But I understand the difference between what I want, and the way things are. I suspect that you might not watch too much TV (probably a good thing!). Check out an episode of "The Sopranos" - you will see a minimum of 5-10 product placements per episode, and sometimes many more. And these product placements aren't subtle - I'm reminded of a particular episode in the begining of the third season where the "guys" are standing around a hospital patient that's been beaten, and decide to "eat the Whitman's" instead of "passing out the chocolates" - and this reference was written into the dialogue of the show in a slightly more subtle version than the Buffy example you described.

Don't get HBO? Then perhaps you watched the World Series - Every game had a different advertisement for a FOX television show directly behind home plate in big, bold letters. It ain't good, on that I'll agree with you, but it is indeed the way things are going.
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post #38 of 55 Old 11-07-2001, 08:07 AM
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Expect the advertising tattoos to be video overlays like in the stadiums. Ovelayed logos on shirts. Shorter but more frequent commercials that are harder and have less incentive to skip. Popup window advertising on TV (and devices to avoid it). Advertising where the show continues in the smaller window.

Yuck! But that's reality.

When someone is said to be ready to fight tooth and nail it often implies they are backed into a corner and have no choice. Well, some of them don't. But folks in that position usually have lower survival odds and many of them will indeed have to find new businesses or revenue models.

For obvious reasons, any change in technology will threaten some existing interest, who will fight tooth and nail to stop it. But the best they usually do is stall for awhile. This is what is happening here as the IP interests desparately try to slow things down while they figure out what to do.

But as they push too hard the weaker of them will lose their friends, and have to change.

Make no mistake about it, you will be able to download a high quality movie in only minutes in the future.

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post #39 of 55 Old 11-07-2001, 12:26 PM
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Originally posted by dkeller_NC
It's not a documented feature - you have to program your unit to do this, but it is nevertheless there. After setting the unit to do this, you simply press the fast forward button once, and the recorder will skip ahead 10 seconds, 30 seconds, or whatever you've programmed it to do. Check the TIVO forum for more info.
Hmmm. Very interesting. I'll check it out.
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Sorry, Mike you're just too old. ;) Just about everyone under the age of 30 with a computer is aware of Bearshare. Typical use rates are around 200,000 simultaneous users at any one time. The Fast Track network (another peer-to-peer protocol) use rate is even higher - it recently exceeded the simultaneous usage rate of Napster at its peak.
Okay, I'm old (43--I've been into computers since I was 15, when it was really hard to be into computers), and I'm repulsed by self-righteous "file sharing" initiatives, to boot. I know that Gnutella is a generalized mechanism for sharing files of all types, including those containing public domain information, but I think that the principle use of and main attraction to it for its users is the free sharing of copyright protected electronic media that they would otherwise be required to pay for.
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I'm not saying that IP owners will enjoy it, just that anything they attempt to do about it will be completely ineffective. Re-read the section above about the soon to be released open source peer-to-peer protocols. And you're right, the typical business model of paying for a copy of entertainment software is coming to an end - rapidly.
You may well be right, but they will fight and I think that the justice system and congress will aid them in that fight with further pro-IP-holder modifications to the laws.
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... But I understand the difference between what I want, and the way things are. I suspect that you might not watch too much TV (probably a good thing!). Check out an episode of "The Sopranos" - you will see a minimum of 5-10 product placements per episode, and sometimes many more. And these product placements aren't subtle - I'm reminded of a particular episode in the begining of the third season where the "guys" are standing around a hospital patient that's been beaten, and decide to "eat the Whitman's" instead of "passing out the chocolates" - and this reference was written into the dialogue of the show in a slightly more subtle version than the Buffy example you described.
I'm afraid that I watch all too much television. I hadn't noticed The Sopranos in particular, but I have noticed product placements, in both television and motion pictures. But as I stated, product placements alone aren't sufficient to advertisement. I expect that we'll see the "watch this ad or miss the show" type tactics trbarry describes--ads in little pop-up banners at the bottom or top of the screen, etc. The advertisers have every right--they pay for all of broadcast television except PBS. You don't like it, don't watch. Not their fault, anyway--the CE manufacturers are forcing it on them, with features boldly and pointedly designed to help consumers avoid watching the ads like the ones the broadcasters are bringing suit against Sonic Blue for.

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post #40 of 55 Old 11-07-2001, 04:05 PM
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Originally posted by dkeller_NC
It's not a documented feature - you have to program your unit to do this, but it is nevertheless there. After setting the unit to do this, you simply press the fast forward button once, and the recorder will skip ahead 10 seconds, 30 seconds, or whatever you've programmed it to do. Check the TIVO forum for more info.
I went to the TiVo forum and checked out the "TiVo Backdoor" thread, which explained how to do this, and other things (although, I don't recall seeing mention of how to program the length of the skips--I'll have to search in there again. Unfortunately, it uses the older forum scripts and has more primitive searches).

These things can hardly be called "features" of TiVo, since, as you yourself point out, they aren't documented. I wonder what percentage of the 300,000 TiVo subscribers has become aware of this? Probably not any huge number. ReplayTV's "automatic edit out the commercial break" feature is loudly advertised and will be in the documentation, and is somewhat worse for the advertisers. Without doing anything other than turning it on, if it works as described, you play the recording and you just aren't shown the commercials, with no perceptible pauses. It must be using some kind of cues in the video stream, though (Vic Ruiz claimed to have figured out how they were doing it some posts back)--the broadcasters should be bright enough to figure this out very quickly and remove them from their programming, making Replay's advertisements fraudulent.

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post #41 of 55 Old 11-07-2001, 06:40 PM
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"Okay, I'm old (43--I've been into computers since I was 15, when it was really hard to be into computers), and I'm repulsed by self-righteous "file sharing" initiatives, to boot. I know that Gnutella is a generalized mechanism for sharing files of all types, including those containing public domain information, but I think that the principle use of and main attraction to it for its users is the free sharing of copyright protected electronic media that they would otherwise be required to pay for."

Don't be too put off - I'm no spring chicken myself (38), and have a similar long history with computers, both mainframe (does anyone know what that term means anymore?) and PCs. The gnutella protocol does indeed serve both uses, although you might be surprised at how much public domain and uncopyrighted information is exchanged. One of the interesting features of the Bearshare client is that you can view the search terms that run through the network - it really makes for a fascinating read on a boring afternoon (OK, so I'm a nerd!).

Of course, the flaw with Gnutella is that any user can rather easily harvest the IP addresses of other users, and thus a IP holder could in theory prosecute an individual for sharing copyrighted material. Thus the push for a more secure transmission protocol by the open source community.

"You may well be right, but they will fight and I think that the justice system and congress will aid them in that fight with further pro-IP-holder modifications to the laws."

This is my point - I think you are quite right, and really disgusting laws such as the SSCA may indeed be passed. However, these laws will have virtually no effect whatsoever, for the reasons I cited earlier - they are impossible to enforce, since secure encrypted peer-to-peer protocols are soon to be released that mask their transmissions as "normal" web traffic, making it technically difficult and impossibly expensive for the ISPs to police. And if the ISPs cannot enforce the laws that congress deems appropriate, then no other means exist for stopping this traffic because of the nature of the internet itself.

Moreover, I think it likely that many countries will refuse to adopt similar laws, and as we both know, it's all or nothing in this area. It's sort of like a bucket filled with water - most of the walls of the bucket are intact and secure, but all it takes is one small breach and all of the water inside drains out.

"But as I stated, product placements alone aren't sufficient to advertisement."

Why? I've seen "studies" (I've no idea how scientific these studies are) that suggest that product placement with ques built into the dialogue are far more effective than stand-alone advertisements. It's important to remember that the target market are young people, who are far more likely to be impressed with what they're favorite star is using or drinking than you or I. An example of such a campaign is BMW's current advertising - the 007 flick sold many, many Z3s, and BMW has since produced its own "movies" that are melds of advertising and entertainment.

"I expect that we'll see the "watch this ad or miss the show" type tactics trbarry describes--ads in little pop-up banners at the bottom or top of the screen, etc. The advertisers have every right--they pay for all of broadcast television except PBS. You don't like it, don't watch. Not their fault, anyway--the CE manufacturers are forcing it on them, with features boldly and pointedly designed to help consumers avoid watching the ads like the ones the broadcasters are bringing suit against Sonic Blue for."

Trouble is, these types of tactics are relatively easy to defeat by a clever programmer. And if the last few years of the internet are any guide, if it can be done, it will be - the "anti pop-up" software for web pages is a good example. While some "watch this if you want to watch the show" will still exist, product placement is the only way that my pea brain can think of that is absolutely un-removable by software or hardware, and I suspect the marketers know it. That's why I think it will wind up the dominant method of sponsorship - not because it's optimal, but because it's undefeatable.

Finally, I really wouldn't fault the CE manufacturers for all of this. They are, after all, simply responding to their customer's wishes, and in the end, that's what drives all commerce, not just entertainment.
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post #42 of 55 Old 11-07-2001, 07:03 PM
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If you don't believe that product placement is going to become a large force in advertising check out any episode from last seasons Sopranos, a veritable feast of product placements. I especially loved the grossly oversized logos on the front of the TV's in Tonys house, just to make sure you didnt miss who made them.

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Couple different things. Skipping commercials. I'm not shedding a tear for the networks, cable or OTA or otherwise. If the network is making quality "must see" programming then the skip doesn't come into play. People will have their butts in front of the TV watching it live. Second, 80% of all OTA networks are delivered via Cable or DBS. IN ALL cases the big networks get a per subscriber fee from the cable/DBS provider. Third, large networks like Disney/ABC use monopoly like powers to stick it to the consumer. Case in point, ever wonder why that worthless Disney channel is now part of your basic lineup? Because ABC said it wouldn't allow any cable or DBS provider to carry an ABC affiliate unless they places Disney in the basic lineup. 5% of your subscriber base at $6/mo is one thing, but 100% at $3/mo is some serious cash. I'm absolutely sure the commercial skip law suit will get throw out of court. I can only hope it was filed in California so SLAPP laws will apply against them.

AS far as the copy feature goes I see this system is fairly similar to other digital copy technologies. For instance, DAT makes exact digital copies. DAT uses a serial copy management system to restrict the number of digital copies you can make. Unlike RTV4K with DAT you could make as many digital copies from the same source material. All audio DAT tapes (and for that matter Audio CD-Rs and Audio MDs) have a royalty included into the cost.

The fact that MP3 plays don't pay out to the RIAA (a royalty that is collected by the gov't on our dime by the way) was one of the
big reasons the RIAA sued in the first place.

So as I tie things together I'll repeat what I said before. Just because you are breaking copy write law doesn't mean the copyright holder has a leagal remedy. The current mish mash of copyright and case law makes it so individuals are indemnified from copyright liability so long as they aren't selling or distributing en mass.

Because there is no search functions, no database, and people can't "pull" content from your machine it's unlikely you could prove Blue Sonic was directly infringing copyright like Napster.

On the otherhand you could go after blue sonic for contributing indirectly to copyright infringement. But then you have to prove that it does more than a VCR/VTR. You can counter that it's a exact copy of the A/D conversion. But the same it true of a half dozen "professional", computer, and to some extent lesser consumer formats. If it would actually take more time depending on your connection. Most broadband and DSL connections limit the uplink to 256K or less. So it will come down to the automation. Will the mear fact of making it slightly easier be enough?

It's not going to be open and shut, but in my opinion you won't be able to pin direct infringement on them. There might be a shot for indirect infringement, but it's tricky. In a recent conference call with SB detailed the suit as a positive. Saying it showed that the technology and new revenue streams were ahead of Tivo.

I'm not a lawyer, you're mileage may vary.

  

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post #44 of 55 Old 11-08-2001, 05:45 AM
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BTW, from my searches most of the files on gnutella aren't songs or other copyrighted materials.
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Originally posted by dkeller_NC
Finally, I really wouldn't fault the CE manufacturers for all of this. They are, after all, simply responding to their customer's wishes, and in the end, that's what drives all commerce, not just entertainment.
I beg to differ. I've worked on consumer products--I work on cellular phone handsets now. We spend a lot of time trying to dream up things that we think that people will like. Particularly when you manufacture machinery, you have to come up with some way to get people to buy new things before their old things stop working. You do this by giving them things with more attractive features.

We do ask customers what they'd like to see, and definitely ask their opinion of the things we've dreamed up after we've implemented them, but 90% of the new features in any product I've worked on got dreamed up by the engineering staff and marketing, trying to guess what the customers would like (after all, for CE products, we are all customers).

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post #46 of 55 Old 11-08-2001, 09:09 AM
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Originally posted by firefighter
BTW, from my searches most of the files on gnutella aren't songs or other copyrighted materials.
Okay, I believe you. Just curious, though--what are most of the file? Is there some particularly common type of file being traded in Gnutella?

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post #47 of 55 Old 11-08-2001, 11:51 AM
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The fact that MP3 plays don't pay out to the RIAA (a royalty that is collected by the gov't on our dime by the way) was one of the big reasons the RIAA sued in the first place.
As I said before, the RIAA was on thin ground with that suit. MP3 players have a substantial legitimate use--we have a legal right to transfer the music that we have purchased to other more portable forms for personal use. Just because you can copy those files and spread them endlessly around the Internet for free download doesn't mean that you will, and, as established in the VCR cases, it's unfair to restrain people from using things that have non-copyright infringing uses just because they can also be used to infringe upon copyrights.

The ReplayTV feature, on the other hand, has the sole purpose of making and distributing electronic copies of copyrighted material for other people's use, something which the law doesn't give you a right to do (and, IMHO, should not).
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Just because you are breaking copy write law doesn't mean the copyright holder has a leagal remedy. The current mish mash of copyright and case law makes it so individuals are indemnified from copyright liability so long as they aren't selling or distributing en mass.
So how do you define "en masse"? Who gets to define a reasonable amount of distribution of copies of copyrighted material that can be done by private individuals without permission? I don't think that current law, codified or case, allows it at all. I may be wrong, and the outcome of this case will show us.
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Because there is no search functions, no database, and people can't "pull" content from your machine it's unlikely you could prove Blue Sonic was directly infringing copyright like Napster.
I admitted that this isn't Napster per se--the problem with it is that it enables the unauthorized replication and distribution of digital copies of copyrighted things. Even if the broadcasters wanted to allow it, they obviously weren't asked for approval, nor were they allowed to approve of the security measures taken by this device on transmission of their property (if indeed it takes any--I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it transmits the stuff over the net in the clear). Sometimes these broadcasters want to market boxed sets of highly successful programs--"Series X: The Complete Nth Season"; what value will such things have if digital files of these programs are readily available on the net? It may be that no matter what they do, this will happen anyway (hell, dkeller_NC says that a large number of such recordings are already available through Gnutella), but they sure as hell can work to make it illegal.
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On the otherhand you could go after blue sonic for contributing indirectly to copyright infringement. But then you have to prove that it does more than a VCR/VTR.
Huh? What VCR are you aware of on the market that sends digital copies of recordings to people over the Internet?
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You can counter that it's a exact copy of the A/D conversion. But the same it true of a half dozen "professional", computer, and to some extent lesser consumer formats.
Many consumer computer graphics cards can tune television and make digital recordings of it on a computer disk. The number of people who will use (or who even could) are tiny in comparison to the number who could potentially come to own ReplayTV boxes and future Motorola cable STBs with ReplayTV functionality, and learn to use this simple feature. It wasn't worth coming after these computer devices in court--it is worth trying to nip this in the bud.
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It's not going to be open and shut, but in my opinion you won't be able to pin direct infringement on them. There might be a shot for indirect infringement, but it's tricky. In a recent conference call with SB detailed the suit as a positive. Saying it showed that the technology and new revenue streams were ahead of Tivo.
<Snort>! What exactly did you expect them to say? "We're so scared we're peeing our pants?" Even if they thought they were going to lose this thing, they'd have to say that they were confident to the press. Any public admission of uncertainty would assure that they'd lose--it could and would be used against them in court.

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post #48 of 55 Old 11-08-2001, 12:32 PM
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"We do ask customers what they'd like to see, and definitely ask their opinion of the things we've dreamed up after we've implemented them, but 90% of the new features in any product I've worked on got dreamed up by the engineering staff and marketing, trying to guess what the customers would like (after all, for CE products, we are all customers)."

Uh - I think you've made my point for me. Unless your marketing department is very different from mine, their job is to gage consumer acceptance of new products and incorporate features that are suggested from consumer surveys. Moreover, if a competitor incorporates a feature that the consumer likes and you don't have, you generally lose out to that competitor. That's what I mean by consumers driving innovation. Ultimately, it really will be up to the consumer as to what features get incorporated into devices, because if your company refuses to put it in, a competitor will, and you'll get creamed in the marketplace.

"The number of people who will use (or who even could) are tiny in comparison to the number who could potentially come to own ReplayTV boxes and future Motorola cable STBs with ReplayTV functionality, and learn to use this simple feature."

Uh, this seems a little odd considering that there are almost as many computers out there as cable STBs (noting that a significant fraction of cable customers do not use a STB). Potentially, there are at least as many people that could use an ATI all-in-wonder card as Replay STBs, and considering that TIVO is basically killing the other options in the PVR market and still have dissapointing market penetration, I suspect that the usage of computer cards with tuners and recorders have a much stronger market potential.

Nevertheless, it only takes a few individuals with tuner cards to put material onto a peer-to-peer network to effectively distribute the content to all who want it, and as mentioned before, peer-to-peer sharing of material is absolutely unstoppable.
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post #49 of 55 Old 11-08-2001, 01:33 PM
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Uh - I think you've made my point for me. Unless your marketing department is very different from mine, their job is to gage consumer acceptance of new products and incorporate features that are suggested from consumer surveys.
But my point was that the stuff on those consumer surveys largely comes from the marketing department and the engineers. We dream this stuff up and ask the consumers whether they like it or not. Of course, our dreaming it up is largely a result of new technology becoming available to us--larger, cheaper displays, color displays, cheaper flash memory and RAM, tiny little cheap cameras and GPS chips. Often new things that we've always wanted to do suddenly become possible. True, these same things are probably also obvious to our competitors. But in my experience, little of it originates from consumer requests.
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... there are almost as many computers out there as cable STBs (noting that a significant fraction of cable customers do not use a STB). Potentially, there are at least as many people that could use an ATI all-in-wonder card as Replay STBs, and considering that TIVO is basically killing the other options in the PVR market and still have dissapointing market penetration, I suspect that the usage of computer cards with tuners and recorders have a much stronger market potential.
We'll just have to disagree on this point. I think that the vast majority of home computer owners are largely computer illiterate and don't care that they are. This is why AOL has done so well--they've given these people a single interface to their machine for all of their interactions with the internet, and a surprisingly huge number of people like that (I've tried to shame my aunt into learning to really use her machine and dumping AOL to no avail). It's not that they're stupid, they just have other priorities. Using ATI's excellent software for All-In-Wonder, and then figuring out how to copy the video capture over the net for retrieval by your friends and family is quite a bit more involved than ReplayTV's interface to this sharing feature.

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post #50 of 55 Old 11-08-2001, 03:11 PM
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"But my point was that the stuff on those consumer surveys largely comes from the marketing department and the engineers. We dream this stuff up and ask the consumers whether they like it or not."

Wow - that's a definite switch. At my company, it's largely driven from the other end. For example, a consumer focus group would be asked something like: "What would you really like to be able to do with your cellphone" and "What do you really hate about cellphon usage in general, and the way cell phones work now?". From the resulting huge list of suggestions/gripes, a group comprised of engineers and marketing people try to come up with a short list that is common to most of the respondents, and are reasonably technically possible. Finally, that list gets filtered through what's advisable business-wise (i.e., how much would it cost to make a cell phone that had a these features?).

That final list goes to the R&D department, and hopefully, you have an improved/new offering next product cycle. I do find it interesting that your compny goes at it from the opposite end, since I had assumed the "total quality management" buzzword has penetrated just about every company out there.

"We'll just have to disagree on this point. I think that the vast majority of home computer owners are largely computer illiterate and don't care that they are.

Actually, I'll concede this point - I had thought you were referring to the number of potential users of video capture/tuner cards. Since I regularly provide computer support to mystified family/friends, I'll also concede that a large majority of computer users really give a tinker's darn about how their machine works nor how many things it could do if they educated themselves. And an all-purpose machine is a darn sight harder to operate than any single-purpose machine (such as a PVR or STB) will ever be.

"This is why AOL has done so well--they've given these people a single interface to their machine for all of their interactions with the internet, and a surprisingly huge number of people like that (I've tried to shame my aunt into learning to really use her machine and dumping AOL to no avail)."

Lest I get in trouble with the moderators, I'm going to leave this comment well alone. :) Let's just ay that nothing says "newbie" faster than an email address that ends in @aol.com! ;)

"It's not that they're stupid, they just have other priorities."

I don't think "stupid" is the right word, because many very intelligent people where I work seem totally unable to figure out the solution to a computer software configuration problem, but seem to have no trouble memorizing how to do it if I show them. I think it just takes a special mindset to 1) assume that the software engineers are logical and there must be a way to do something that's bugging you, and 2) Extend a method for a previous problem/question to the solution to the new one. It's sort of like doing word problems in algebra - some people can handle them, and some people can't, although most people can solve the resulting equations once it's translated from the problem statement.


"Using ATI's excellent software for All-In-Wonder, and then figuring out how to copy the video capture over the net for retrieval by your friends and family is quite a bit more involved than ReplayTV's interface to this sharing feature."

No argument here - an excellent example is the simultaneous existence of the "Video Processors" and "Home Theater Computers" section of this forum, even though an HTPC can now do everything a processor can do except be "don't think about it" easy.

But does making it easy really result in an infringing product where none existed before because it was just too hard or too techie? And where would you put the cut-off for such a distinction? I would say that there's no such thing as an infringing product that has generalized multiple uses, only infringing actions. Unfortunately, the latter is hard and expensive to police, so the "big boys" of corporate media seem to want to go after the former instead, IMO that can only hurt technological innovation if it's allowed to stand.
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post #51 of 55 Old 11-08-2001, 04:36 PM
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I do find it interesting that your compny goes at it from the opposite end, since I had assumed the "total quality management" buzzword has penetrated just about every company out there.
Not just this company, but just about every company that I've worked for in the past 18 years. We get our ideas from a variety of sources--things that we dream up, what our competition is doing and, yes, things that customers suggest to marketing. In the best companies this is a true synergy--the worst will put too much weight on one or the other (one of the things that killed Digital Equipment, in my estimation, is the fact that, founded by an engineer, it was almost completely driven by engineering; I've also worked in businesses where marketing ruled and that doesn't work well either). But in general, I find that customers have very limited imaginations, mostly because they have no idea what's possible and even if you tell them to ask for whatever comes to mind, they'll tend to limit it to what they think you can do. It's easier to come up with a list of potential new features and present it to them for comment (we're doing that in the lobby of the building that I work in right now) than it is to solely rely on them for ideas.
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"This is why AOL has done so well--they've given these people a single interface to their machine for all of their interactions with the internet, and a surprisingly huge number of people like that (I've tried to shame my aunt into learning to really use her machine and dumping AOL to no avail)."

Lest I get in trouble with the moderators, I'm going to leave this comment well alone. :) Let's just ay that nothing says "newbie" faster than an email address that ends in @aol.com! ;)
You know that and I know that but the newbies don't know that and they don't care. :)
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But does making it easy really result in an infringing product where none existed before because it was just too hard or too techie? And where would you put the cut-off for such a distinction? I would say that there's no such thing as an infringing product that has generalized multiple uses, only infringing actions. Unfortunately, the latter is hard and expensive to police, so the "big boys" of corporate media seem to want to go after the former instead, IMO that can only hurt technological innovation if it's allowed to stand.
I don't think that there needs to be proof that no such infringing product existed in the market before--what's going to be Sonic Blue's defense? "Your Honor, they let those other people do something like this without complaining"? This feature in ReplayTV exists solely to copy recordings to other machines--ATI doesn't provide software with All-In-Wonder to copy your TV video captures over the net. The fact that you can do it is incidental, just like the fact that you can share your ripped MP3 files with friends around the world through net--just because you have an MP3 player and MP3 software doesn't mean that you will do that. There are substantial uses of ATI's TV-recording software that don't involve copyright infringement at all, just as there are of MP3 software and hardware. The only thing you can do with ReplayTV's sharing feature is infringe copyrights.

And what technical innovation? All this thing does is copy existing video captures, which the product has long had the capability to make and file, over the Internet. We've been able to copy files over the Internet for quite some many years, thank you.

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post #52 of 55 Old 11-09-2001, 08:42 PM
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"just because you have an MP3 player and MP3 software doesn't mean that you will do that. There are substantial uses of ATI's TV-recording software that don't involve copyright infringement at all, just as there are of MP3 software and hardware. The only thing you can do with ReplayTV's sharing feature is infringe copyrights."

Uh - Perhaps I've truly missed something here, but I was under the impression that the sharing feature allowed users with multiple Replays to use a home IP network to watch any show on any recorder on any TV. I would think that would constitute a substantially non-infringing legitimate use. As for it's potential (and even their advertising) to send shows through the net to a friend, I tend to think that that's similar to taping a show and giving it to a friend. While not exactly legally sanctioned, I haven't been able to find case law that specifically makes sharing a copy with a friend illegal. Sonic Blue may indeed be testing new waters by codifying this ability in their advertising, but I personally don't see this as different from what is extremely commonplace in the general populace.

Large scale distribution and duplication (thought non-commercial in nature) may be another thing entirely, but I believe that further case law and/or congressional action is needed to define at what point this is taking place.

"And what technical innovation? All this thing does is copy existing video captures, which the product has long had the capability to make and file, over the Internet. We've been able to copy files over the Internet for quite some many years, thank you."

I was thinking of innovation in general, not necessarily with this device. Rio's original MP3 player is a decent example - it allowed users to pack a large amount of relatively high quality audio in a device about the size of a pack of cigarettes and take it jogging. Sure, you could do something similar with a CD walkman previously, but a CD walkman is substantially bulkier, has moving parts (although they seem to have gotten around the skipping problem with large buffers), and requires you to burn your own CDs if you want to mix and match an excercise mix. The MP3 player makes the whole process of assembling what you want really, really easy, and is just about bulletproof. Very cool, and if the RIAA had had their way, totally illegal. Phooey!
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post #53 of 55 Old 11-11-2001, 01:18 PM
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Uh - Perhaps I've truly missed something here, but I was under the impression that the sharing feature allowed users with multiple Replays to use a home IP network to watch any show on any recorder on any TV. I would think that would constitute a substantially non-infringing legitimate use.
That is a feature separate from this program-sharing-over-the-Internet thing--true, it uses the broadband adapter, but it might not (and probably doesn't) even replicate the file--it just connects to the other ReplayTV and plays a file from its disk, just as you might play an MPEG file located on another computer in your home LAN without actually copying the file to a disk on the machine you're running the MPEG viewer on. It is indistinct from having a very long S-video cable connecting the PVR in your living room to a set in your bedroom and watching the program through that (well, just a bit "distinct", since I assume that someone in the room with the PVR that holds the progam you're watching remotely can simultaneously use it to watch that program or something else). Unless they're doing something really freaky, the data never leaves your home, and you could use this feature without having a connection to the Internet at all.
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As for it's potential (and even their advertising) to send shows through the net to a friend, I tend to think that that's similar to taping a show and giving it to a friend. While not exactly legally sanctioned, I haven't been able to find case law that specifically makes sharing a copy with a friend illegal. Sonic Blue may indeed be testing new waters by codifying this ability in their advertising, but I personally don't see this as different from what is extremely commonplace in the general populace.
In the Supreme Court's last ruling on this, the 1984 Sony v. Universal thing, the Justice writing the decision stated in a footnote that it did not take several issues into consideration, among them, the sharing of tapes. However, since the decision gives you the right to make copies of free OTA broadcasts (though not of pay television, but there was no technology at the time to allow one while preventing the other, so that was moot) and to display them in any private place to anyone you please as long as you didn't charge money for it, I don't see where loaning a tape to a friend is a problem. After all--his home is a private place and you didn't charge him; what does it matter that you're not there while he views it? This is different from making a separate copy of the program and giving it to him to keep, though. That constitutes replication and distribution. On the face of it, this is forbidden by Title 17, except under certain circumstances by libraries and other archives. So far as I can see, it doesn't make any distinction of "large scale"--distributing one copy is enough to constitute infringement. It explicitly forbids it for profit, but is a little vague otherwise. Maybe it is worth a challenge in court--we'll see.

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post #54 of 55 Old 11-11-2001, 05:17 PM
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I don't know about PPV but didn't they already have HBO by 1984? That's a premium channel, but wasn't considered differently by the Supremes.

Would that omission be significant as far as fair use and HBO?

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I don't know about PPV but didn't they already have HBO by 1984? That's a premium channel, but wasn't considered differently by the Supremes.

Would that omission be significant as far as fair use and HBO?
The last decision the Supreme Court made on home videorecording, the 1984 Sony Corp. v. Universal Studios case, had the following Footnote:
Quote:
[ Footnote 2 ] This case involves only the home recording for home use of television programs broadcast free over the airwaves. No issue is raised concerning cable or pay television, or the sharing or trading of tapes.
Justice Stevens thus skirts the issue in delivering the court's opinion and there has been no ruling in case law since (that I can locate, but I'm a rank legal research amateur, using only the Web) concerning the legality of recording pay television. But, like I said, up until now, there hasn't been any technology for allowing the recording of free, OTA television, while preventing the recording of pay television, so the issue has been moot. I suspect that it shall be dragged out and examined in the near future :).

-- Mike Scott

Mike Scott (XBL: MikeHellion, PSN: MarcHellion)

"Think of the cable company as a group of terrorist (sic)." -- hookbill
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