Hollywood Hates Your TiVo

Please, No, No More Dave Matthews, Please, Stop the Torture

Sparks fly over copyright at Tech Policy Summit | Lawgarithms | ZDNet.com Denise Howell has an informative write up on a copyright debate held last week at the Tech Policy Summit in Hollywood.

Participants in the debate included TiVo VP and general counsel Matt Zinn, Executive Director of the Copyright Alliance Patrick Ross, Fred von Lohman from the EFF and moderator Doug Lichtman of UCLA Law School.

Two things I found interesting in the article.

The first was a challenge to Zinn suggesting that rather than build a box that recorded copyrighted content, that TiVo should have asked “permission” from the studios and worked more collaboratively with them to build a box that both would have been happy with.

And the second was a challenge from the audience by Jay Williams of the MPAA suggesting that TiVo was inconsistent in it’s view on intellectual property because while they made a box capable of recording copyrighted materially, they also have pursued a patent claim against Echostar/Dish Network.

TiVo technology and television time shifting technology have been some of the best things to come out of technology in the past 10 years. They have empowered consumers and have redefined the way that we consume content in a world increasingly driven by marketing.

Everywhere you go today you can’t escape the marketing. Billboards push big bold messages across the sky. Radios blast out loud offers of diet pills and aluminum siding. The web pops up messages at you begging you to download the latest smiley emoticon packages (along with its accompanying spyware).

Not only are we as adults inundated by a daily barrage of commerce, but so are your kids.

To me, the biggest heroes of technology are the ones who empower us. The ones who build the tools that allow us to bypass the litter of commerce.

The villains are the ones who would seek to take your tools away. Who think that you are stealing if you don’t sit through a commercial about Bud Light when you watch that free episode of Cheers.

So This is America.

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  1. TranceMist says:

    Good.

    Like the RIAA and the MPAA, they need a good stiff kick in the ass.

    If they liked it, we wouldn’t.

  2. Brent Evans says:

    Very well said Thomas. The networks will find a way to get the commerce into the shows and adapt to time-shifting, but them saying it is stealing to avoid commercials is just beyond silly.

    We save time and avoid the over-commercialization of television to some extent by skipping commercials. That is technology for the good in my opinion.

  3. Tomahawk (no relation) says:

    A tax is a tax, be it money or time, when it gets too high (30%)we will find ways to avoid them.
    GO TIVO

  4. That episode of Cheers isn’t free! Increasingly costs are rising of actors, special effects etc.. and someone has to pay for it. (During the last season of Friends, each actor charged more than $1m per ep.!)

    Are TV studios making lots of money? Yes. But it’s a business after all, so you can’t blame them for trying.

    However, as it makes consumers unhappy (and at the lack of direct placements – youtube isnt a direct replacement to high quality shows), companies like Tivo will keep trying to question the status quo which on its own will not defeat things like annoying commercials but will have to be accompanied with support from regulatory bodies and consumer groups with some form of lobbying influence.

    And Tivo is as marketing driven as any other company. Advertising is only a component marketing, essentially marketing driven is about meeting (and exceeding) your customers needs – which Tivo is successfully doing. If other companies through their advertising are not meeting your needs and instead are annoying you they are less market driven than you’d think.

    Interesting post non the less.

  5. Bill G says:

    Thomas,
    You and others need to stop using “TiVo” as the “Kleenex” to refer to the general category of DVRs.
    TiVo is barely selling any hardware at this point, only about 35,000 units a month.
    Generic DVRs are being deployed at a rate of about 500,000 a month.
    There are only about 4 million [and shrinking] TiVo branded boxes in use.
    There are over 20 million generic DVRs in the US.

  6. Gary H says:

    Why didn’t Hollywood hate your VCR? People have been time shifting and fast-forwarding commercials for a very long time. The difference is that studios made money from selling movies to consumers, so they had a financial interest in getting VCRs into every house. DVRs don’t allow studios to sell you movies. They don’t make money off them, that’s why they call it stealing.

    With the amount of money made from DVD sales, you wonder why they care about DVRs. I watch more TV shows on DVD than I do on my Tivo, but I don’t hear them complaining about Netflix. As a consumer I watch what I want, when I want – not on some bogus broadcast schedule.

    Studios are just trying to make up for their mistakes in not embracing technology 10 years ago. They could have made billions, but were too worried about people stealing. Morons.

  7. Nick says:

    This just reminded me of an article about net neutrality I read in the newspaper this morning (http://www.cyberpresse.ca/article/20080331/CPARTS/803310549) where they were refering to a recent speach from the MPAA (http://www.mpaa.org/press_releases/press%20release%20showest%20keynote%203-11-08.pdf) trying to push against net neutrality.