Originally Posted by blueiedgod
I think is similar move was made in the 80s after the laws were finally writted to legally allow people to record live TV for later viewing under the "fair use act" and broadcasters complained that people were fast forwarding the commercials. Congress shot them down, and pointed to the "fair use act" basically saying that "whatever you do in your own home is your business"
Actually, it was the Supreme Court in the Betamax case that determined that time shifting recording was a fair use, not Congress, and they certainly never said anything close to "whatever you do in your home is your own business." Nothing was ever written into the law by Congress either permitting or banning home recording (at least until the DMCA prohibited circumvention of encryption).
But I expect, and the words used by Comcast indicate, that they are sensitive to the political backlash they would face from totally disabling the fast forward button.
It looks to me like there are two aspects here. First, they got a patent on some method to prevent "trick mode functionality" which sounds to me like it is directed specifically at automatic commerical skipping processes like the Dish network DVR, NOT at disabling the general use of the fast forward button. Second, it indicates they are already disabling FF functionality in some extra services they are providing like the "look back" process. That would be similar to what, for example, CBS does in its NCAA basketball tournament webcasts where they disable the ability to change games during commercials.
My guess is that politically they can get away with disabling FF on these "extra" services, even though they would likely face a backlash if they tried it on regular broadcasts. Regarding the Dish DVR, they're going to fight that out in the courts, and then perhaps in Congress, and probably in the next round of contract negotiations.
But it may be premature to assume they are going to try to completely disable the use of fast forward on DVRs. Maybe they are actually dumb enough to do that, but I kind of doubt that they are.