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FCC OK's TiVo Technology

4 Aug, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

In what is sure to escalate tensions between copyright holders and content distributors, the Federal Communications Commission today included TiVoGuard — a new device available in the fall from digital video recording service TiVo that allows subscribers to transfer programming to their PCs — among a group of technologies certified for broadcast flag antipiracy requirements.

Adoption of the broadcast flag is seen not only as crucial to the protection against future inappropriate redistribution of copyrighted works on free-to-air programming, but also to the commercial viability digital TV.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has argued that TiVoGuard does not adequately prevent the redistribution of programming beyond the home or other similar local environments through remote access such as the Internet.

The trade association says such shortfalls could disrupt local advertiser-supported broadcasting and harm TV syndication markets — essential elements it says support the U.S. local broadcasting system.

The MPAA says it is not against the concept of remote access, but cautioned the concept is fraught with “many business and copyright issues.”

“We believe these issues deserve further analysis,” said the MPAA, in a statement. “The approval of TiVoGuard appears to prejudge the FCC's upcoming examination of the complex issues surrounding home networking and remote access.”

TiVo countered that it has always maintained an appropriate balance between consumer interests and the rights of content providers.

“We look forward to working with the industry to develop new technologies that provide a great entertainment experience for consumers while protecting the rights of content providers,” said TiVo CEO Mike Ramsay.

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