TiVoToGo Under Attack

TiVo’s new TiVoToGo feature – a facility which allows users to transfer content from their TiVo PVR to another device such as a laptop, is under threat from films studios and the NFL. They filed papers with the Federal Communications Commission to have the new feature blocked.

Many see this as another attack on consumer rights – severely limiting what people can do with content. However, the Motion Picture Association of America and NFL cite concerns over TiVo’s anti-copying safeguards, stating that they don’t think they’re adequate to prevent people sharing content outside their households – on the internet for example.

TiVo developed the feature to add more flexibility to subscribers’ viewing, so that they can watch content that they have recorded whilst on holiday for example, and that it plans to introduce proper copy protection measures.

So far, TiVo has only said this on the matter: “We are hopeful (the FCC) rules in favour of technology innovation that respects the rights of both consumers and artists.”

Fritz Attaway, executive vice president and legal counsel for the MPAA described his fears: “We don’t have a problem if you want to move the content to your summer home, or your boat, but the TiVo application does not require any kind of relationship with the sender. It could be to a nightclub in Singapore.”

There are many that are questioning whether content providers like the MPAA will stop there? If the system does become secure and content can only be transferred to authorised devices, will this be freely allowed, or will the public be further restricted to buying a license for every playback device they own? We feel a threat of ‘authorised only’ platforms raises the major problem of stifling the market in competing playback platforms, which in turn is bad for the consumer.


Published by

Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?