SAN JOSE, Calif. – A plan by TiVo Inc. (search) to let its users transfer recorded TV shows to other devices is running into opposition from Hollywood studios and the National Football League, which fear their copyrighted content could get loose on the Internet.
The studios and the NFL filed papers with the Federal Communications Commission (search) last week seeking to block the agency's approval of TiVo's proposed new service.
TiVo, based in Alviso, Calif., is the leading provider of digital video recorders, which let users easily record TV shows onto hard disks, skip commercials and pause live broadcasts. The company's plans to introduce TiVo To Go, which will allow users to shuttle recorded programs to other TiVo-compatible devices, including laptops and personal computers, have been long awaited.
TiVo officials declined to comment on the copyright objections Thursday but issued a statement: "We are hopeful (the FCC) rules in favor of technology innovation that respects the rights of both consumers and artists."
TiVo has said it wants to give users more flexibility in how and where they view their recorded shows — on an airplane or a road trip, for example — and to let them share the content with a few friends. The company says it plans to incorporate copy-restriction technologies to limit the number of devices to which the shows can be transferred, preventing unfettered Internet distribution.
The content companies don't think TiVo's proposed safeguards are adequate enough to block users from sending their recorded shows to strangers' devices across the globe, said Fritz Attaway, executive vice president and legal counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America, the Hollywood lobbying arm that filed the opposition papers.
"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," Attaway said Thursday. "It could be to a nightclub in Singapore."
Many consumer electronics companies say such networked devices are bound to become standard in the ever-more-digital world, but they acknowledge that they must first appease Hollywood and other content providers' concerns over copyrights.
Content companies have been fighting hard on Capitol Hill (search) for rules that would restrict what they consider illegal distribution of copyrighted works. The industry's successful lobbying led to the FCC rule forcing electronics companies to certify that their recording gadgets have technologies to prevent mass distribution.
That's why TiVo is now seeking the FCC's approval.
A dozen other companies, including Sony Corp., RealNetworks Inc. and Microsoft Corp., have similar product applications pending. Attaway said Hollywood so far does not object to those proposals because they appear to mostly limit the movement of copyrighted works to a user's own home network.