Digital Cable and Satellite DRM Harms TV Fans and Innovators
San Francisco - Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) have changed the way millions of people watch television. But the new TiVo Series 3 for HD lacks a feature that past versions have had -- TiVoToGo, which allows users to move recorded shows to a computer or other device.
In a report released today, "Who Killed TiVoToGo?", EFF gets to the bottom of this digital murder mystery. The plot includes Hollywood, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and digital rights management (DRM) -- and it's an ominous tale for television fans looking forward to the widespread adoption of high-definition (HD) television.
"When you upgrade to HD TV, you will lose some of your favorite features on other digital devices," said EFF Activist Derek Slater, the report's author. "DRM restrictions won't stop 'Internet piracy,' but they will hamper your ability to watch recorded TV content wherever and whenever you choose."
Both digital cable and satellite providers must transmit their programming with DRM to satisfy Hollywood's demands -- and because of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) restrictions on unlocking DRM even for lawful uses, innovators like TiVo have to get permission from Hollywood and the TV providers before creating compatible devices.
TiVo Series 3 HD is one of many new devices that replaces your typical cable set-top box by taking advantage of CableCARD technology. Because TiVo could not get permission to include the TiVoToGo feature in conjunction with CableCARD, the feature was removed.
"Had Hollywood and the TV providers obtained this kind of veto power years ago, the original TiVo might never have been created," said Slater. "Remember, Hollywood tried to stamp out DVRs when they first started to become widespread, suing DVR-maker ReplayTV into bankruptcy and comparing commercial-skipping to 'stealing.' TiVoToGo is the latest casualty in Hollywood's crusade against new technologies."
For the full report "Who Killed TiVoToGo?":
To stop cable DRM from getting even worse:
Electronic Frontier Foundation