ReplayTV caves to content industry: new model will drop two key features – it will no longer be able to skip entire commercials automatically, or send recorded programming over the Internet.
- Sonicblue Inc., the former owner of ReplayTV, was considered the company in the digital video recording industry that most seriously pushed against the copyright interests of the entertainment industry. Two years ago, a consortium of movie and television studios sued Sonicblue for abetting copyright infringement with ReplayTV’s commercial-skipping feature, among other claims.
….Although executives at D&M said the elimination of the two crucial features was voluntary, the entertainment industry had demanded in its lawsuit that those features be dropped.
D&M’s decision to alter its product represents what some observers consider a major shift in power toward providers of entertainment content and away from the manufacturers of devices that deliver that content to homes and the consumers who ultimately see it. If advertising revenues and program licensing fees are to continue to support content, entertainment industry executives argue, their interests must be accommodated.
Critics see this not as accommodation, but as capitulation.
“Companies are under considerable pressure to bow to the wishes of the entertainment industry. This is unfair and anticompetitive,” said Jeff Joseph, vice president and spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association, a manufacturers’ trade group. “If advertisers and broadcasters are seeing their traditional business model threatened, then it would behoove them to consider alternative business models.”
….That is a conversation that some think is not needed. The decision by ReplayTV’s new owner to deactivate certain features shows that the electronics industry has given up its power, said Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. “ReplayTV’s current actions are a clear indication that the entertainment companies are gaining de facto control over what is in our homes,” Ms. Cohn said. “Why do we, as consumers, have to prove what features we need on our recording devices? We should be the ones who decide.” [NY Times]
Content providers have too much power? Nah.