HBO wants its programming to be off-limits for DVRs Ars Technical is out with a piece this morning titled HBO wants its programming to be off-limits for DVRs based on an article posted on the matter yesterday by Dave Zatz. Allice Hill’s Real Tech News adds some sensationalism to the story by adding their headline, HBO Says No PVR, No VCR, No Nothing.
While these headlines are certain to grab readers I think we need to be careful about what is really going on here. No one wants their premium HBO HDTV via TiVo or Media Center than I do. Especially with the Sopranos coming up here shortly you’d beter believe I’ll be TiVoing it. But is Dave’s post and supporting document really showing a request by TiVo to disallow access to their programing for DVRs? I’m not so sure that it is.
Although I’m sure that HBO would rather not have their content on your DVR, I think what they are addressing specifically in Dave’s post has to do with the specific delivery of Subscription Video on Demand. They essentially are petioning the FCC to not allow video on demand content to be able to be recorded. (i.e. buy it now, watch it now). To me this is very different than saying that they are requesting the FCC to not allow any copying of their programming whatsover. The “Copy Never” request in the letter on Dave’s site is specifically about SVOD not all of their content in general.
One of Dave’s readers, Andrew, makes the relevant point:
“Don’t suppose you guys actually read this through… it’s asking that SVOD services be set as “Copy Never”. It’s not asking that normal broadcast TV be marked this way. Because VOD is Video on Demand, there’s no reason to record it to your DVR, you simply order it from the VOD screens. The reason for this is because HBO, and the cable provider can get metrics on activity as well as charge for certain events over and over. Currently with Comcast, when you pay for HBO as a premium channel for normal broadcast, you also get HBO VOD free.
You guys really should do your research and read the document carefully.”
Although I still don’t like the concept of SVOD being copy never (and won’t buy content like that myself). I think we need to be careful in jumping to conclusions that this means that HBO is asking that none of their content be able to be copied and getting the blogosphere all lathered up about this. And even with the Broadcast Flag and HBO, my understanding is that future copy restrictions will allow you to make one personal copy on your device for your use, it just won’t allow subsequent copies from there.