Wednesday, August 4, 2004

TiVo can innovate

While it’s good news that the FCC has given TiVo permission to offer their TiVoToGo service it still raises serious questions about why any company should need to ask for permission to offer an innovative service? It sets a bad precedent for the entire industry. [Techdirt]

I wrote about this a couple weeks ago, when the NFL’s obstruction got me all worked up. I’m really happy to hear this news, though I do agree with Mike’s assessment above. As I wrote a couple years ago, the law should not be used to make breaking the law impossible. It should be used to provide recourse for those who are harmed when it’s broken.

1 comment:

  1. Only a lawyer would suggest that a law should not be used to make breaking the law impossible. This way a lawyer has work every time the law is broken. :)

    Though one could of course pick dozens of examples, I'll pick a hot button one like driving drunk. If a law could make it impossible, wouldn't that be infinitely better than providing the victims some recourse for their undeniable harm?

    I wish there was a way to burn a DVD everytime I watched a great ballgame, so I could send it to my father. Sending it by internet makes a lot of sense, but all it is really saving me is less than $10 in a blank DVD and postage, and some multiple of 10 if you add in the time and equipment required for me to produce and distribute it. But that channel would clearly be abused if someone pays HBO to view their content, then records it and sends it to someone who doesn't pay for the same things they have to pay for: labor, content, and most importantly, the significant cost of the initial distribution.

    Another similarity: Vendors on the street in Times Square. A lapse in a local law allowed vendors to set up tables on either side of Broadway and 7th Avenue. They clog the sidewalks making it difficult to get around for legitimate customers of stores and restaurants that pay a fortune every month for their location, employees, security, and liability. The vendors claim the streets are free to the people, and they have just as much right to make a living as anyone else, but they aren't paying the same upfront costs as anyone else.

    The fact that you saw the game or the HBO show is because MLB, NFL or HBO has paid for the rights to distribute the product in any way they see fit. Selling tickets, commercials and subscriptions is how they pay for it. If you distribute it, you should have to pay MLB, NFL, or HBO for that. TiVo isn't suggesting that kind of distribution.

    If TiVo wants to provide a service to distribute legitimate content, shouldn't they be responsible for insuring that it cannot be used to distribute illegitimate content? That is really where the innovation lies, and I would call that innovative in the law as well.

    P.S. Can you tell my wife is out of town for five nights?