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ReplayTV in court

10:38 PM ET (US)
It sounds like you're creating problems yourself on trying to solve this issue instead of looking at why there is a question in the first place. But still eminent contribution and station of view.
04:38 PM ET (US)
As SonicBlue's CTO pointed out, the "ad skip" button doesn't delete ads, but simply allows users to fast forward past them. It is hard for me to believe that a court would find this incremental albeit efficient and user friendly improvement to the fast forward function of a VCR infringes where the fast forward button does not. And infringes what, by the way - the right of broadcasters to force viewers to watch their ads? Absurd.

The sharing issue is the juicier of the two, of course, but strikes me as having similar characteristics. One can obviously record and distribute (illegally, that is) TV programs with a traditional VCR. That this can be accomplished more quickly and efficiently with the new ReplayTV seems poor grounds for an infringement case.

At the end of the day, I believe that this case will end up much like the ruling of several years ago concerning the Diamond Rio. Specifically, that manufacturers such as ReplayTV will NOT be held responsible for POTENTIAL copyright infringement by customers of their products when substantial noninfringing uses are clearly possible. It should not be surprising, perhaps, that the same company that was sued for the Rio is now being sued for ReplayTV. These days it seems as if innovation in digital media is evidenced more clearly by lawsuits than by anything else...
02:02 PM ET (US)
Sure. 15 "buddies". Hmm...groups of fifteen "buddies" or...15 co-conspirators!!!! Obviously the Replay is being distributed to be used with terrorist cell activity and should fall under the jurisdiction of the motherland defense agency, or whatever it's called.
Cory Doctorow
12:25 AM ET (US)
The video tape was challenged in court, the Betamax case. In the end, VCRs were held to have "substantial noninfringing uses" -- a phrase which means different things depending on who you ask:

1. There were substatial uses that didn't infringe (using a camcorder to make your own programming and watching it on your TV)

2. The nominally infringing uses didn't infringe that much (time-shifting a show isn't gonna cost the networks anything, and tape-trading would be on a small scale because of the limitations of the technology)

ReplayTV's sharing mechanism doesn't really have much of a case for the first definition, and they're clearly going after the second, by limiting the number of buddies to fifteen. The question is whether the courts will decide that sharing shows isn't that much of an infringement.

The court's job is to serve the goal of copyright -- to ensure the production of lots of material, which will enter the public domain once its copyright expires. Traditionally, it does this by weighing the financial incentives to creators with the rights of the public. In considering Replay's new box, the court will have to decide if Replay's technology stands a chance of substantially damaging the networks' businesses to the point where it reduces the volume of TV in production.
12:02 AM ET (US)
I think it's wonderful! ReplayTV was gutsy enough to include the ad-skip button on the original (Tivo was not, and they got the Emmy, go figure) and are certainly pushing on it with the new model. The dumb-ass laws will certainly win if they aren't challenged! Interesting that they are getting sued for allowing "people to make and distribute illegal copies of television programs". Next will be the VHS tape - which by the same logic should never have been legal.

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