Monday, July 11, 2005

fyi TV technology at edge of legal frontier


Pointer to article:

Kobielus kommentary:
Re Slingbox, what struck me about this article was the crux question:

• Does the consumer have the right to place-shift as they do time-shift their content?

Well, duh, time-shifting is also, of necessity, place-shifting. You record a program onto a portable medium—such as videocassette—in order to have the freedom to watch it later and anywhere. Or to have the freedom to give it to someone else so that they can watch it later and anywhere. A more fundamental question is:

• Does the consumer have the right to place-shift without time-shifting, so that someone somewhere else can consume that content in real time as it streams?

Which raises the subsidiary question:

• What if that “someone somewhere else” is in fact simply another device of my own that I’ve designated as my alternate client app for watching it right now, or offsite storage and backup unit for the purpose of allowing myself, or someone in my household, to watch it later at that other site, or to allow myself to retrieve it from that backup site in order to watch it back at the primary site?

Well, I'm not a lawyer, but I'm sure most people will agree that we have the right to be able to consume all content that we pay for in any way we wish. In terms of mass piracy-enabling, the Slingbox doesn’t seem to support multicast or broadcast place-shifting, so the content providers of the world shouldn’t freak out just yet. I seriously doubt that the courts will quash a device that simply operates as a one-to-one relay. But it’s only a matter of time before multicast mode is built into Slingbox and similar mass-market devices. Which raises the further question:

• Why fight a development—consumer multicast--that’s inevitable and of obvious value, even if it makes life a bit trickier for IP defenders?

But the media companies will fight it vigorously. Prepare for several years of screaming headlines and gradual grudging eventually grateful acceptance. Grateful? The media companies will eventually figure out how to profit in unforeseen ways from this new development. And they’ll forget how scared and defensive they were when the technology was first introduced. As they did with TV, videocassettes, etc.