Dale Dietrich
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Category — Broadcast

FCC Chairman Declares No More Blanket CableCARD Waivers

Categories: Digital TV

  Comcast Ruling (January 10, 2007)
  Cablevision Ruling (January 10, 2007)
The major U.S. cable companies can no longer avoid deploying cable-card enabled set-top boxes. Most recently Comcast had sought a waiver for set-tops that wouldn't rely on the external CableCARD to house signal-security technology. It argued this waiver would save consumers millions of dollars. Of course, the purpose of the CableCARD mandate is to open free competition, increase set-top innovation and increase consumer choice in set-top products and services such as those offered by TiVo, Microsoft's Media Center software and others without giving a preference to any one supplier/technology. Such a waiver would have given Comcast and its suppliers such a preference.

The cable industry has had seven years, plus two extensions, to separate out the security and and channel surfing functions of cable set-tops. Under the most recent FCC rules, major cable companies must start using CableCARD set-tops, and cease deploying integrated settops, starting July 1, 2007.

Comcast has said it will appeal the decision. 

Sources: MultiChannel News | Broadcasting & Cable | Engadget | ars technica | xchange  Reuters | FCC Press Release | NCTA Response

Discussed here: TiVoCommunity Forum 

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Variety: Xbox 360 Video Marketplace Succeeding

Categories: iVOD/iTVNew Business ModelsNew Tech

For  years I have called for video-download services to be provided directly to a TV-connected consumer electronics product such as the Xbox, TiVo or PS3. This Variety article discusses how the Xbox 360's new Internet-based video-on-demand service is having relative success (where others have failed) due to its available HD content and its direct connection to the TV.

The relative success of video downloads on Microsoft's Xbox Live and disappointment of Amazon.com's Unbox point to two factors that differentiate Xbox from Amazon and its many other competitors — consumers who download a movie want a simple way to watch it on their TV, and those with high-def TVs want high-def content.

A primary reason for its success lies also in the fact that DRM is not a relevant consideration for most users when the content is delivered directly to the display unit of choice. iVOD services to PCs have largely failed because most people do not want to watch TV and movies on their computers. And the DRM used by most of those services preclude users from copying the movie onto a DVD for playback where they want to watch them – in the living room. 

FYI: Joystiq has a pretty good preview of the system here including a YouTube demo. Note that the demo was done early-on. As I understand it the slow-downloads and other glitches experienced in the early days have been resolved.

Sources: Variety | Joystiq | XBox 360 Fanboy

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Ars Technica: Why Piracy is More Common than Legal Video Downloads

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersDRM-Free ServicesFYIiVOD/iTVNew Business ModelsPiracy

Ars Technica: Why Piracy is More Common than Legal Video Downloads

Warez.com: Piracy, the clear choice for 2006 

Dale's Comment: Each of these articles make the same essential point. Piracy of video content is pervasive because it provides consumers with a product they want – a vast selection of high quality content, meeting the tastes of both the masses and the long tail – with the ability to use/view the content on any device and with any software/service of their choosing. Something the TV and movie-industries fail to provide to the very consumers eager to purchase it from them – if only it was conveniently available at fair prices and under fair use terms.

This oft-quoted remark by Disney co-chair Ann Sweeney made at a conference in October, shows at least that the industry is finally starting to grapple with the issue: 

"We understand now that piracy is a business model. It exists to serve a need in the market for consumers who want TV content on demand. Pirates compete the same way we do – through quality, price and availability. We we don?t like the model but we realise it?s competitive enough to make it a major competitor going forward."

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Davis Freeberg Interviews DivX CEO Jordan Greenhall

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersFYIiVOD/iTVNew Tech

Davis' interview of DivX, Inc.'s CEO Jordan Greenhall is interesting. There isn't much here that is new to me but it is topical given DivX's recent public offering. One bit that was new to me was his explanation of why the inclusion of DivX encoding technology within CE devices like PVRs didn't make much sense until recently. Unlike decoding, encoding media to DivX is computationally intensive. Until a couple months ago DivX encoding chips where far more expensive than the inexpensive larger hard drives needed for use with less efficient codecs. With the emergence of cheap encoding chips it now makes sense for manufacturers to start embedding them within CE devices in conjunction with the DivX codec. 

The interview covers the history of the company, the current status and trends (YouTube, convergence) and where this promising, yet controversial, company and its technology are headed.

Dale's Comment: I had to smile when I read Greenhall's answers. Having lived in Silicon Valley for a few years, and having left it, his "Silicon Valley-speak" reminds me of the good old bubble days.  Take this snipped for example:

So the fact that DivX technology is associated with that path is a really interesting physical manifestation, but the reality of the value proposition is that the market, the community itself is a value proposition, so what you’ll find is, if you map our progress on a go forward basis …

Silicon-valley-speak notwithstanding, its an interesting interview of an interesting man in control of an important technology. Good work Davis!

Sources: Davis Freeberg

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Why Google & YouTube are Not Getting Sued Out of the Water

Categories: Big Media v InternetDMCA-like LawsFYIiVOD/iTVNew Business Models

This is a terrific Business 2.0 article (linked inot a CNN Money.com story) identifying why YouTube and Google are not the subject of as many copyright infringement lawsuits as had been predicted. Namely, Big Media is finding that YouTube can be a net postitive to their ratings and bottom lines.

Sources: CNN Money/Business 2.0

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BitTorrent to Purchase µTorrent

Categories: Big Media Makes ProgressDigital TViVOD/iTV

With some of the $25m recently raised from investors, BitTorrent, Inc. is set to purchase µTorrent. µTorrent has become an enormously popular, best of breed, BitTorrent client given its very small footprint, efficiency and minimal use of system resources.  µTorrent and Azureus have long eclipsed the original BitTorrent client invented by Bram Cohen. Details of the acquisition have not yet been made public. In an open post to users in the µTorrent Forum, Bram Cohen said:

BitTorrent has acquired µTorrent as it recognized the merits of µTorrent’s exceptionally well-written codebase and robust user community. Bringing together µTorrent’s efficient implementation and compelling UI with BitTorrent’s expertise in networking protocols will significantly benefit the community with what we envision will be the best BitTorrent client.

BitTorrent clients such as these have been enormously controversial as, in conjunction with tracker websites, they have become the primary means by which movies, TV shows and other video content is shared over the Internet since the RIAA and the MPAA successfully shut down most of the major P2P Networks through litigation. 

Production studios have discovered that the technology underlying BitTorrent clients is an enormously efficient method of distributing large files over the Internet and, as you can see from the related posts below, Hollywood has started to embrace this technology as a means of legally distributing movies and TV shows over the Internet.

Sources: Techcrunch | DailyTech | ComputerWorld (IDG) | InfoWorld | MacWorld | Playfuls | P2PNet| Wired Blogs | Announcement/Discussion on µTorrent Forum

Related BitTorrent Posts:

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TiVo’s Evan Young Discusses the Details of the new TiVoCast Service

Categories: iVOD/iTVNew Business ModelsNew Tech


Video: Streaming Media West 2006: Keynote by Evan Young, Dir. Broadband Services, TiVo

TiVo's Director of Broadband Services, Evan Young, gave this interesting keynote address to the Streaming Media West 2006 conference. I learned a few new things about TiVo's nascent TiVoCast service and I am concerned with the seemingly walled-garden-only approach TiVo seems to be going with the TiVoCast service.

CONTINUE READING →

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BitTorrent Signs More Download Deals with Major Hollywood Movie & TV Studios

Categories: Big Media Makes ProgressiVOD/iTV

On the heals of raising $25 million in capital, BitTorrent has reportedly signed video downloading deals with 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Lionsgate, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, Palm Pictures, G4, Kadokawa and Stars Media. Last year BitTorrent had done a similar deal with Warner. The service will use BitTorrent's proven peer-to-peer technology. The technology makes the distribution of large video files faster and less expensive by offloading much of the bandwidth requirements to its users. Pricing details have not yet been announced.

Starting next February you'll* be able to download-to-own (DTO) films and TV shows, or rent films on a video on-demand (VOD) basis. Most of the entertainment content in question will be made available on the day it is released on DVD or shown on television. These videos will be playable on PCs, laptops or other portable devices.

The service's DRM will limit playback to the device you originally record the content on. So recorded DVDs will not play on consumer DVD players. Some titles will only be viewable a limited number of times before the central DRM store disables your key. For this, you'll likely be paying full DVD retail prices.

So far as I know, BitTorrent has no such deal with consumer electronics companies like TiVo, Microsoft, Sony or Apple for downloads to a TV-connected device. 

Dale's Comment:  While any news story like this is heartening, insomuch as Hollywood is slowly advancing into the future, I agree with ars technica that DVD-purchasing consumers will not be impressed with this service. As with iTunes, it limits the user's right to use the content to the device it was downloaded on – hardly useful for long term video purchasers.  But, for one-time viewing, the method by which the vast majority of video consumers consume such content, this will probably have limited success for those wanting to view such content on laptops, PCs and portable devices.  But, as I have contended for years, downloadable media sales will only really take off once consumers can purchase/rent the content for viewing on their TVs – just as Microsoft is now doing with its Xbox 360 Marketplace movie/TV show service and as Apple has announced it will do with its forthcoming iTV product.

*Caveat:  While I have not yet had my suspicions confirmed, my guess is that this service will ONLY be available to U.S. consumers at launch.  This seems to be the way of the world these days! :(

Sources:  Information Week | Gizmodo | ars technica | Hollywood Reporter | Wired Blogs | USA Today | Forbes (AP) | TechWeb  Playfuls | LA Times | BitTorrent Pres Release

Related BitTorrent Posts:

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Techcrunch » BitTorrent Raises $25 million, Bram Cohen is History

Categories: Big Media Makes ProgressFinancingsiVOD/iTV

Internet-TV Aggregators are Popping Up like Dandelions

Categories: Big Media v InternetBigMedia v NewTechiVOD/iTVNew TechPiracy

I don't know what is in the air these days, but Internet-TV aggregators seem to be popping up all over the Internet. I recently blogged about Tioti and the TVUPlayer, each of which have received substantial press coverage owing to their controversial nature. 

Over the last few days, I have become aware of dozens of online TV, movie and other aggregators running the gamut from sites streaming literally hundreds of live TV channels over the Internet to others indexing and hosting thousands of TV shows and movies for instant viewing over the Internet. 

Many of the live broadcast feeds are likely accessed from Internet feeds supplied by the content owners themselves. But, I'm guessing, others are likely redirected Slingbox or similar streams. As you can read in my TVUPlayer post, the company's CEO, Paul Shen, believes he can escape U.S. copyright infringement liability using the DMCA's ISP safe harbor. He argues that the streams are made available from the service's users and not hosted directly by his company.   

peekvid and QuickSilverScreen in particular, seem to be the most blatantly infringing services of the lot. They directly index over a thousand TV shows, movies, cartoons etc. for instant viewing. Users can select a particular TV series from a list and then directly view selected episodes – on demand. Movies can similarly be selected and viewed on demand. If peekvid is located in the U.S., I suspect it won't be long before the link fails to work owing to NAB and MPAA legal actions. QuickSilverScreen was located in the U.S. until Fox sent it a cease and desist letter. The proprietor has sold it to someone offshore and it continues to operate unabated from an offshore location. 

In no particular order, here are only a few of the dozens of live TV aggregation sites that have popped up recently.

All of these have the following features in common:
  • They all actually worked when I tried them
  • Of the dozens of other aggregators available, these sites required no prior signups or passwords. 
  • Unlike Tioti and the TVUPlayer, no plugins or downloads were required for these sites to work – simply show up, click and watch.
  • My browser, Firefox 2.0, is set to disable popups and redirects – all worked without popups or redirects 
  • Many of the video streams were resizable – even to full screen in many contexts
This is clearly a new trend, or at least a new trend to me. In light of the fact that iCrave TV was so quickly shut down in 2003 for doing essentially the same thing, it is surprising to see so many seemingly thriving. I gather that most, if not all, are hosted in far-off countries outside the reach of NAB and the MPAA – for now. As AllofMP3.com has recently discovered, locating offshore will not, alone, keep you outside the reach of the U.S. copyright lobby.
 
See also the Digg.com comments to an original story about Streamick.com that provided the spark to get me blogging about this.

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TIOTI – Another Web-based TV Service Combining Legitimate TV with BitTorrent Feeds

Categories: Big Media v InternetiVOD/iTVNew TechPiracy

TIOTI (Tape it of the Internet) is another web service in beta that intends to provide legitimate TV and pointers to TV show torrents for download through BitTorrent clients such as uTorrent and Azureus. According to the TIOTI Website:

We currently index 1,600+ TV shows – 90,000+ episodes – and we are matching everything up with content sources like iTunes, AOL and Amazon Unbox – with more to come.

Our beta feature set allows you to do exactly what it says on the tin and do it in style. With integrated message boards, groups, personalised badges and an extensive API, we have lots more great stuff coming soon too.

Dale's Comment: It appears the TIOTI founders believe they can steer clear of the many recent lawsuits brought against torrent host sites by including only pointers to torrents hosted elsewhere rather than the torrents themselves. I have little doubt that this presumed 'safe harbour' will be quickly tested in the courts if TIOTI becomes at all successful.

I have added myself to the waiting list to test this out once it expands its beta. I'll report back what I see if/when I join the beta.

Sources: TIOTI's Website | Techcrunch 1 | Techcrunch 2 – Paul Cleghorn (Founder) Interview | PVRWIre | TorrentFreak Interview with founder Paul Pod | Guardian Unlimited

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YouTube Faces Heightened Copyright Scrutiny Since Google Buyout Announcement

Categories: Big Media v InternetBigMedia v NewTechDMCA-like LawsFair Use/DealingiVOD/iTVNew Business Models

As you can see from the "Related Posts" links, below I have blogged about YouTube's copyright liability in the past. It seems like the deep-pockets behind YouTube's new parent, Google, have brought out the copyright infringement vultures, and those that wish to speculate on the future (or demise) of YouTube specifically and copyright infringement on the Internet generally. The stories linked-to below are only a few of the avalanche of stories and blog posts on this topic over the last week.

Faced with an increased level of DMCA take-down notices, YouTube is busily working on taking down 10's of thousands of copyrighted works as requested by media owners. It's a difficult chore. Some 60,000 new videos are posted on YouTube every day. Offending materials are often put back up as soon as they are taken down.

YouTube says it will take a tough action to avoid such problems in the future and has committed to developing and deploying technology that can sniff out copyrighted video clips and bits of music. YouTube will also provide "copyright owners with user identification information" of users that post infringing content – after receiving a valid subpoena (See this CNet article).

While there may be some bumps and no doubt many legal hurdles and lawsuits along the way, if I were a betting man, I'd bet that YouTube will survive all legal challenges in-tact. This is a new and emerging area of the law. The DMCA provides the s. 512(c) safe harbour for this (the take-down scheme). YouTube is complying with its take-down obligations under the DMCA and similar laws around the globe.

More interestingly, YouTube's 10 minute video clip limit can dovetail with the self-interest of Big Media – those most likely to sue, and have the resources need to sue, Google. After initially fighting with YouTube over the posting of this Natalie Portman skit on Saturday Night Live, in the face of a furor from Internet bloggers, NBC backed-off, and allowed the post to remain on YouTube for awhile. NBC discovered that YouTube was a terrific way to promote its show as new and hip to a coveted younger demographic. Ahhhhhhhhh —- self interest (with strong lobbyists) … wins every time!

Sources: New York Times | ABC News | BBC | Forrester | PVRWire | Information Week | Fox News | ars technica | Mark Cuban 1 | Mark Cuban 2 | Mark Cuban 3 | Register | Variety | Forbes (AP) | CNet 1 | CNet 2 | Slate

Cranky Geeks Videocast on Topic (Episode 31) John C. Dvorak, Sebastian Rupley, West Coast Editor, PC Magazine, Matt Mullenweg, Founder, WordPress.org, Gary Messiana, CEO, Netli, Inc.

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TiVo Continues to Fight the Good Cablecard/Ingegration Ban Fight

Categories: BigMedia v NewTechDigital TVFCC

More than ten years ago, Congress passed an act requiring cable companies to adopt the CableCard technology. The FCC has promulgated C.F.R. 76.1204(a)(1), requiring cable operators to implement CableCard technology into their set-top boxes. After failing in their court challenges to invalidate the law/rules, the cable industry has repeatedly asked for, and been given, extensions to deadline. Last year, the FCC mandated a final deadline of July 1, 2007 once and for all. In keeping with their stalling tactics, Charter, Verizon, Comcast and the NCTA have, again, requested varying waivers from this mandate. Since TiVo's Series 3 product relies on the cablecard standard, TiVo opposes these waiver petitions and is lobbying hard to thwart these requests so as to to firmly establish the Cablecard standard. I, for one, support TiVo whole-heartedly. Enough is enough.

Sources: Engadget | ZatzNotFunny.com | TiVo's Oct. 13 Letter to the FCC | Gizmodo

Discussed here: TiVoCommunity

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TVUPlayer – Watch Most Any TV Station Anywhere

Categories: Big Media v InternetiVOD/iTVNew TechPiracy

Hearkening back to the days of iCrave.TV, the TV networks and studios have another imminent battle on their hands. The TVU Player (downloadable here) from TVU Networks in Shanghai, China. TVU Player allows anyone to place a broadcast signal on the Internet for view by anyone.  See Review here: (WebTVHub)

November 6, 2006 Update: Paul Shen the CEO of TVU Network was interviewed by CNET:

He acknowledged that much of the content on the TVUPlayer belongs to others but denied being a video pirate. Users of his technology are responsible for any copyright violations, Shen said, and they are the ones who stream the TV broadcasts–though he conceded that they are able do this only through the use of his technology.

Mr. Shen also claims that his technology was intended as a demonstration of technology only and that it "can help broadcasters mine a rich new distribution platform and advertise to new customers".

Dale's Comment: Given the Chinese jurisdiction, this one may be harder for the MPAA et. al. to shut down. However, PVR Wire says that Paul Shen lives and works in Northern California. Mr. Shen may wish to talk to the folks behind iCrave TV and SportingStreams.com to see how receptive the broadcast industry will be to this kind of help! :)

Original Sources: Gizmodo | Web TV Hub | PC Magazine | ABC | P2P-Weblog | Digital Journal | PVRWire

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CEA’s New Ad: You’ve Heard This Song Before

Categories: BigMedia v NewTechSatellite Radio

The CEA has taken out another advertisement criticizing the content industry of fear-mongering once again in the context of its current law-suit against XM radio. The ad quotes the content industry’s dire warnings as far back as 1906 about how new technologies are going to spell the end of their industry.

Sources: CEA Ad [pdf]  |  ars technica  |  EFF Deep Links  |  Boing Boing
 
Related CEA Stories:

See related stories about the content industry opposing satellite-radio-based time-shifting posted on May 17, 2006, April 26, 2006, January 16, 2006 and December 2, 2005 (the Sirius Deal).

Related Satellite Radio Posts:

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RIAA Sends Cease and Desist Letters to Youtube/Google Video Users

Categories: Big Media v InternetBigMedia v NewTechBigMedia v. P2P UsersCease & DesistiVOD/iTV

Post a few seconds of you or your friends dancing to an RIAA-member song on YouTube or Google Video? Expect a cease and desist letter from the RIAA.

Sources: ars technica | techdirt

Dale's Comment: I wonder how the RIAA is going to justify how a video of my sister contorting to the Chicken Dance is going to hurt their members' bottom lines.

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Judge Shuts Down UK-based Streaming Football Site

Categories: DecisionsiVOD/iTV

In a decision reminiscent of the Canadian 2000/2003 iCrave TV decision, UEFA and BSkyB took three people behind Sportingstreams.com to the High Court where the judge upheld their claim that the site’s re-broadcasting of Champion League football games was unauthorized and breached copyright legislation.

Sources: Out-law.com | The Register

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Movie Industry May Drop HDCP/ICT Until 2010/2012?

Categories: BigMedia v NewTechDigital TVDRM Restricting UseHD-DVD/Blu-rayHDMI/HDCP/ICTPiracy

The leading German newspaper Der Spiegel claims to have information on an unofficial agreement struck between the movie studios, Sony, Microsoft and others which will see HDCP, and the Image Constraint Token (ICT), being consigned to the scrap heap for at least four years. This move would mean that all movie content produced until 2010 at the earliest, and possibly as far as 2012, will not carry the ICT – a security feature which restricts/down-rez’s high-definition playback only to equipment with HDMI ports and HDCP encryption.

Sources: ars technica | GameIndustry.biz | Daily Tech | Next Generation | IGN | Gamasutra | Xbit | Joystiq | Engadget | Der Spiegel (Google’s English Translation)

Dale’s Comment: This is a remarkable development if true. I have been participating in online forums for years where this has been a major subject of contention for early HDTV adopters. With the constant delays of HD-DVD and Blu-ray and the many competing HD standards appearing on the horizon, this may spell the demise of HD down-rezzing and the ICT. Recently, Professor Ed Felton suggested that HDCP is Eminently Crackable. All this said, since main-stream press has not yet picked this up, I question its veracity. But, its fun speculation in the meantime.

Update: October 15 2006: Save for one or two titles, the first couple hundred Blu-Ray and HD-DVD releases have been released without HDCP/ICT activated.

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Warner Bros. and BitTorrent Partner to Download Movies

Categories: Big Media Makes ProgressiVOD/iTV

Warner Bros. and BitTorrent announced a partnership that will make Warner movies and television shows available for rental or purchase using peer-to-peer technology. The move makes Warner the first major studio to embrace BitTorrent technology, which has long been associated with the illicit swapping of video content. More than 200 WB movies and TV shows will be available this summer. New content will be available the same day DVDs are made available in stores.

Sources: ars technica | New York Times | L.A. Times | Forbes | Times Online | Wired | Fox News (Reuters) | Red Herring | CBC Canada | MSNBC/Business Week | Houstin Chronicle (AP) | International Herold Tribute | Playfuls | Inquirer | CNN Money | Engadget | BBC | CNet | ZDNet | Hollywood Reporter | Wall St. Journal

Note 1: BitTorrent and the MPAA had previously reached an agreement on November 23, 2005 whereby BitTorrent agreed to remove torrents for unlicensed movies from it's site. On that day BitTorrent (the company) became legitimate in the eyes of Hollywood.

Note 2: Of note, this distribution will use still another proprietary DRM system. See related article.

Related BitTorrent Posts:

Related P2P Going 'Legit' Posts:

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YouTube’s Looming Fair Use Battle

Categories: Big Media v InternetFair Use/DealingiVOD/iTVNew Business Models

In this interesting Engadget article, YouTube's fair use defenses are discussed in the context of an inevitable big media law suit alleging use of video clips infringes their copyrights. YouTube has been very conscientious about establishing copyright policies and removing infringing videos in their entirety, as required by the DMCA. For example YouTube quickly removed the Natalie Portman SNL video when NBC demanded this. But, the more interesting challenge will be when YouTube asserts that use of short video clips/snippets from big media sourced video (eg: a disputed penalty in a sporting event, the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, a snippet from a David Letterman interview or top 10 list, etc.) is fair use under copyright law for educational, parody, commentary and/or criticism purposes. Assuming YouTube's current million-dollar-a-month burn rate doesn't take them down first, every fiber of my body tells me they are in for a fair use fight with broadcasters, organized sports and/or the MPAA at some point down the line.

Source: Engadget

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Is Hollywood Mulling-Over Possible Slingbox Litigation?

Categories: Big Media v InternetBigMedia v NewTechiVOD/iTV

Slingbox is an Internet TV streaming device from Sling Media that enables consumers to remotely view their cable, satellite, or personal video recorder (PVR) programming from an Internet-enabled computer with a broadband Internet connection. This is commonly referred to as “space shifting”. HBO’s CTO, Bob Zitter, has said that content owners believe Slingbox violates their copyrights. Whether or not Slingbox violates copyrights, content owners perceive it as a competitive threat because: (i) they themselves are interested in monetizing the delivery of their programs via broadband connections; and (ii) Slingbox threatens their retransmission-consent arrangements by enabling out-of-market viewing of network and syndicated content. So, the question is, will Hollywood sue Sling Media for competitive reasons, arguing that the Slingbox, which does not copy or store content and only allows consumers that purchase content to access their content remotely, infringes its IP rights?

Sources: LightReading.com  |  ars technica  |  Broadcasting & Cable  |  Information Week  |  CEA Press Release Praising Slingbox  |  Wikipedia Entry on Slingbox

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Proposed “Perform Act” to Restrict Satellite & Web Streaming Recording

Categories: Big Media v InternetBigMedia v NewTechCopy RestrictionsFair Use/DealingLegal ReformSatellite Radio

Text of Proposed Perform Act
The PERFORM Act (“Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act of 2006“) was introduced into Congress yesterday. The bill prohibits satellite radio from offering its subscribers devices capable of recording off the air unless royalties are paid and content is locked with DRM. The catalyst for the bill was new devices XM Radio is bringing to the market that allow customers to save songs on the receivers. Sirius had already made deals with the major record companies that compensate them for downloads on its S-50 receiver.

Also in the bill is a provision that would effectively require music webcasters to use DRM-laden streaming formats, rather than the MP3 streaming.

Sources: EFF Deep Links | ars technica | BBC | TMCNet | Reuters | Billboard | CNet | Tech News – HRCC’s response | Red Herring | Hollywood Reporter | Washintgon Times | Techdirt | PublicKnowledge | Cathy Kirkman

Dale’s Comment: Aspects of this bill have merit. I agree that anyone wishing a permanent, transferable copy of a song broadcast through XM or Sirius should pay for it. If, however, the device does not permit the user to copy the song to an external device, then the concept is more akin to a PVR such as TiVo and fair use rights should allow the user to enjoy the song within the specific device for a reasonable period of time without an additional royalty payment – remember, XM and Sirius subscribers already pay compulsory royalties via their subscriptions to these services. To the extent an additional royalty payment is made to purchase a song, the user should have the right to copy/transmit the song off the XM/Sirius device to any other device owned by the user and, of course, all the other incidents of fair use for purchased music that I advocate for on this site should apply – the right to of the owner to transcode it to any other format, the right to play it on any device owned by the consumer, the right to sell/give-away/alienate the purchased copy (without retaining a copy) etc. If, however, this bill results in an obligation to pay for music that can’t be removed from the device or otherwise fairly used by the user, it should not be adopted.

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US TV Networks Appeal After $4m FCC Indecency Clampdown

Categories: FCC

ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, together with their affiliate groups and the Hearst-Argyle Television group of stations, have filed appeals in various federal courts challenging the FCC’s indecency standards and put out a statement this week to say so, decrying the record $4m of FCC fines made during the course of last month.

Sources: New York Times  |  The Register  |  First Amendment Center  |  Jurist

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HDCP is Eminently Crackable Says Professor Ed Felton

Categories: Copy RestrictionsDigital TVHDMI/HDCP/ICTPiracy

Princeton Professor Ed Felton, famous for revealing that SunComm’s DRM for music CDs could be defeated by holding down the shift key while inserting the music CD into your computer, says completely breaking/cracking High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is “eminently doable”. HDCP is the DRM standard developed by Intel to control access to high definition content as in travels across DVI and HDMI connections (eg: between your HD set-top box or HD-DVD player and your HDTV).

Sources: Prof Felton’s Freedom to Tinker Blog | Prof Felton’s Freedom to Tinker Blog II | Engadget

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Fox and It’s Affiliates Agree to Share Revenue from TV Reruns on the Internet

Categories: Big Media Makes ProgressiVOD/iTV

Fox network has signed a six-year agreement with its 187 affiliated stations that will let it show reruns of its television programs on the Internet. The affiliates will be paid 12.5% after costs and Fox will be able to make 60 percent of its prime-time schedule available online the morning after the shows air.

Sources: Reuters  |  TechCrunch  |  L.A. Times  |  Business Week  |  Red Herring  |  Related ars technica April 25, 2006 article.
 
Dale’s Comment: While networks making limited amounts of content available over the Internet is all the rage these days, what is particularly interesting about this development is that this is the first long term, comprehensive revenue share deal by a major network with its affiliates on how they will share revenues derived from Internet sales of a substantial portion of network content. The exclusive rights granted to network affiliates and to syndicated content purchasers have long been a sticking point for networks that were otherwise interested in making their back catalogue of content available to consumers over the Internet. This could be an important precedent for the eventual availability of all network content over the Internet.

TiVo, flush with your victory over Echostar, PLEASE negotiate a deal with Fox, and the other networks, so we can purchase reruns via iVOD through our TiVos! :) I for one, would love to order up the first two Seasons of The West Wing that I missed years ago.

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