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Television Media Hardware

TiVo Plans More Functionality Reductions 521

TiVo has been in the news recently with a couple of plans to make their service less useful than it could be: first, TiVos will now auto-delete pay-per-view and video-on-demand movies, and second, TiVo is making sure that you can't use a TiVo to view NFL games outside the specified market area. TiVo's lawyer explains.
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TiVo Plans More Functionality Reductions

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  • Irony (Score:3, Funny)

    by Prophetic_Truth ( 822032 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:00AM (#10653610)
    it's only fitting that when I clicked this article it read "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."
  • Hmmm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:00AM (#10653614) Homepage Journal
    And I'll continue to not own a TiVo and download the shows I want to watch. Damn that internet! ;^)
    • by gilesjuk ( 604902 )
      If these two systems were easy to install (as easy as installing a Linux firewall distro) then maybe a TiVo or Windows media centre wouldn't seem to attractive.

      Has taken me a good week and a half just to get a DVB card functioning in Linux. Had to play with bios settings like PCI delays to get the card to function. When it works 100% it will be great, but it's not friendly enough for most people yet (it's been ruining my sleep and i'm relatively good with Linux).
  • Glad I have myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FictionPimp ( 712802 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:01AM (#10653625) Homepage
    I'm just glad I have mythTV. Sure I might have a problem if I have to switch to digital cable, but I dont have to worry about people deleting my videos before i'm done with them.
    • The Tivo hardware is awesome though. Solution? Don't subscribe to their service, and roll back to a non-DRMed version of the software.
    • Re:Glad I have myth (Score:2, Informative)

      by conteXXt ( 249905 )
      dvb-t (digital cable support) or dvb-s (satellite)
      should do the trick :-)

      (myth supports both)
      • Re:Glad I have myth (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ERJ ( 600451 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:10AM (#10653733)
        Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that you would be limited to non-encrypted signals with dvb capable cards. That would pretty much leave you with local channels...
      • Nope (Score:5, Informative)

        by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {cornell.edu}> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:07PM (#10654536) Homepage
        DVB-T is DVB for TERRESTRIAL. It's Europe's equivalent of ATSC digital broadcasting in the US.

        DVB-C is for cable, and is Europe-only. US cable uses QAM modulation also, but the coding scheme and other minor details about the signal differ, so DVB-C cards do not work with U.S. cable.

        There ARE QAM-capable tuner cards for US cable on the market now, but since almost all U.S. cable channels are encrypted, they're not very useful.

        PC-based DVB-S receivers won't work in the U.S. except for getting Dish Network's preview channel, as Dish's encryption scheme is modified enough from standard Nagravision that the Nagra access cards compatible with PC-based DVB-S receivers won't work with Dish.
    • Pretty soon I'm going to join the PVR crowd and Myth looks better and better in the fact it's flexible. Now that TiVo is bending over for movie and TV distributors, I like Myth even more.
    • by computechnica ( 171054 ) <(PCGURU) (at) (COMPUTECHNICA.com)> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:18AM (#10653826) Homepage Journal
      Dish networks PVR is restriction free. It will record anything you want and keep it. It also has the nice 30 second skip on the remote (with out any codes to turn it on). I use my old All-in-Wonder card to permanently record shows from it. The only thing it lacks is the smart recording functions that TIVO has, but then that function sounds like it would be a lot of work to delete things it records that you do not want.

      Best thing about it is that it was free 8^)
    • For those who are like me and don't want to deal with the configuration of Myth on linux with all of its dependency goodness, have a go at Beyond TV [snapstream.com]. It worked for me and I like it a lot. The new version (3.5) will do multiple tuners [snapstream.com] too.
      • Myth + Fedora is really a 3 step process.

        1. install fedora 2. install atrpms apt 3. apt-get install mythtv-suite.

        I guess for the Debian smart-asses it's only 2 :)

        Myth has been doing multiple tuners for quite a while now. If you do want to upgrade to Myth but the install and set up seems daunting first check out the website called "Fedora Mythology". If you still need help, feel free to contact me personally and I'll give any assistance I can.
    • Re:Glad I have myth (Score:5, Informative)

      by enrico_suave ( 179651 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:38AM (#10654099) Homepage
      You won't necessarly have a problem when you switch to digital cable... you'd do the same thing a TiVo user does... You'd use an IR blaster (or a serial cable if you have a motrolla 2k dig cable box that hasn't been crippled by your cable company)

      The IR blaster will be controlled by your mythbox... the ir blaster will simulate your digital cable boxes remote control presses to change teh channel at the appropriate times to record the shows you want... you just pipe the output via svideo or composite into your capture/tuner card =)

    • Re:Glad I have myth (Score:5, Informative)

      by Darth Maul ( 19860 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:43AM (#10654191) Homepage
      Amen. MythTV is a great solution for anyone considering a PVR solution. A few points to consider:

      1) Back- and front-end architecture. I have one backend that records, and two front-end lightweight machines that can view content.

      2) Free (not counting computer hardware costs, however).

      3) Can use external channel changer like TiVo (I have a satellite box, so I need an IR transmitter to change channels on it).

      4) More than just TV! I have my entire music collection on there, along with DVDs, games, weather, images...

      5) Need more recording space? Just stick in another hard drive (I know you can do this with TiVO, but your warranty is then void). I currently can record up to 160 hours on my box.

      6) Different themes available.

      7) Auto commercial detection.

      8) Can edit and cut out parts of a video recording so you can burn to DVD without commercials, etc.

      The list goes on... I've used it for well over a year and just love it. The WAF is also quite high (skipping commercials is huge).
    • Re:Glad I have myth (Score:3, Informative)

      by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      Yeah, I have a tivo right now and am increasingly bumping up against its limitations. I plan to build a MythTV PVR sometime next year, and outfit it with an unholy amount of hard drive space (~1-1.5TB.) That'd also let me run other services off the system, such as nfs/samba file storage for the apartment network. Streaming video to the other systems in the apartment would be a lot easier too.
  • Should read (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phixxr ( 794883 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:02AM (#10653630)
    Should read "Tivo plans to shrink customer base".


  • by Trikenstein ( 571493 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:02AM (#10653632)
    I can see how they would do this to reduce their legal costs, but it has to be costing them subscribers.
    • I own 2 TiVo units. Upgraded the disks myself. Bought 2 lifetime subscriptions for program guides.

      For a small company trying to grow its subscriber base and earn more revenue, doing the opposite of what customers want seems to be phenomenonally foot wounding for TiVo.

      I'll soon upgrade to HDTV. But given the restrictions coming down the pike on digital recording, eg, the broadcast flag in July 2005, I'll probably just build my own MythTV box for my future PVR needs, not buying an HD-TiVo.

  • by d_jedi ( 773213 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:02AM (#10653633)
    (ie: parody of MSN's "More useful everyday" slogan, for the mods :-> )
  • Knew it (Score:2, Insightful)

    "The reason that TiVo has to auto-delete a PPV movie is because it will be available for sale on DVD later on. " Saw this whole thing coming...of course some gigantic shows that make alot of money off advertising (NFL), and big movie productions were eventually going to start complaining to TiVo...I knew it wouldn't last!!!
    • Re:Knew it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AgTiger ( 458268 )
      The markets films are released to are (in this order): Theater, DVD/Video, PPV, Premium, Cable and/or Network/Broadcast.

      PPV doesn't preceed DVD/Video, because otherwise the purchase and rental markets would suffer.

      The movie industry is all about milking the customers completely before going on to the next field of cows.

  • PPV (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <slebrun AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:05AM (#10653668) Journal

    I don't understand the problem. With Pay Per View, you are QUITE SPECIFICALLY buying a license to watch a movie once. You are PAYing PER VIEW.

    There's no ambiguity about buying physical media vs the content, about buying a license, and so on. You're paying to have a movie playing to your sat/cable box at a specific time and date. Done.

    • Re:PPV (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DroopyStonx ( 683090 )
      Yeah but... no one loses out on money if you copy it and watch it later.

      How many times have you personally ordered the SAME pay per view movie more than once? Unless you're lying, the answer is none.

      So really, it doesn't matter. They're clearly just doing this to be assholes and try to further put control on what people can record and keep even though the material in question, along with their profits, is completely irrelevant.
      • Re:PPV (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:28AM (#10653961) Homepage
        They're clearly just doing this to be assholes and try to further put control on what people can record and keep even though the material in question, along with their profits, is completely irrelevant.

        Or, more likely, they're doing it to stave off possible legal challenges from the purveyors of PPV movies and NFL football. Said purveyors may have already made an issue of it behind the scenes.

    • Victimhood (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Roadkills-R-Us ( 122219 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:24AM (#10653920) Homepage
      TiVo is a victim. They're a victim of doing the right thing. The whole "information wants to be free" thing has gotten insanely out of hand. This is a logical waystation for us to be at, sadly enough, given society today. "If I want it, I should have it, and it doesn't matter that I signed a contract saying something different. Besides, it's not *really* theft, it's just a movie."

      [Wish I could offer you a job, but (a) we're not hiring and (b) we're not in Ohio. But integrity and understanding right and wrong are high on my list for qualifying applicants. And getting harder to find.]
      • by adoarns ( 718596 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:53PM (#10655090) Homepage Journal
        The whole "information wants to be free" thing has gotten insanely out of hand.

        Will someone mod this motherfucker up? PLEASE?

        No other person in this thread has correctly identified that
        • Right And Wrong are explicitly dependent on legislative status quo,
        • where potentially monetizable assets are a priori non-exclusive, the erection of artificial barriers to their easy dissemination is not only desirable but a religio-commercio-moral obligation;
        • that theft ipso facto is not simply deprivation of some entity's property, but a moral failing of untouchable classes to respect the limits to all kinds of access reasonably and righteously imposed, and finally
        • that since the sky is obviously falling, politically, culturally, and intellectually in this country, you better start wearing a fucking hardhat.

        And oh man! in so few words! What a guy, this. A true skewerer. "This whole 'Information wants to be free' thing has gotten out of hand" in one fell swoop condemning pile upon pile of hippie thought to obvious absurdity, and then reproving us, the degenerates, for our foolishness.
      • by MacGod ( 320762 )

        [Wish I could offer you a job, but... we're not in Ohio...

        FYI: Ontario!=Ohio. The original post's sig was "Anyone looking for a sysadmin in Southern Ontario", not Ohio.

        I know you Yanks wish Canada was the 51st state, but that doesn't mean you can claim our provinces as your own just yet. That's reserved for Bush's second term

    • Re:PPV (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:28AM (#10653962)
      With Pay Per View, you are QUITE SPECIFICALLY buying a license to watch a movie once. You are PAYing PER VIEW.

      That may be what the provider intends, but unless there is law backing that up, I am entitled record it and view it later as I please.

      Standard copyright case law allows me to timeshift, and I didn't sign any contract with the cable company that said I specifically couldn't record a PPV show.

      There's no ambiguity about buying physical media vs the content, about buying a license, and so on. You're paying to have a movie playing to your sat/cable box at a specific time and date. Done.

      As I just pointed out, you're just plain wrong. I don't need a license as an end user because standard copyright law allows me to timeshift the show without one. There is no license. I payed to have the movie play on my box, and I'm entitled to save it for later viewing.

      • Re:PPV (Score:4, Informative)

        by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @03:38PM (#10656747) Homepage
        Timeshifting was approved because shows would air at a fixed date. The non-infringing use they based their decision on was to view the show only once, but at a different time. They did not, despite it being a result, give you a right to create a permanent copy that you could view many times (albeit watching it once over several sessions, or starting over due to interruption would go under fair use).

        Since then, there are a number of factors that have improved to ours, the consumers, advantage. No quality loss (digital copies), easy commercial skips but the base non-infringing use has been the same - time-shifting.

        If you take away the time-shifting argument by making content available at any time (on-demand) or close to (say, every hour), that argument is withering. You may argue that you want the movie to start at exactly 19.43, but it would be a much weaker argument.

        Should the specific case of a tool only capable of time-shifting PPV content ever reach the Supreme court, don't be too surprised if the verdict is against you. As for a common TiVo box, the non-infringing use would be all the standard fixed broadcasts, the PPV use merely collateral.

        That being said, there is a much more important case being brought before the Supreme court now, that of P2P applications and their liability for copyright infringement. It is far more fundamental than the Betamax case, because it will shape the future of all digital devices and software, as a sequence of 0s and 1s can be copyrighted. Digital PVRs would be just one small subset of devices whose fate depend on that outcome.

    • Re:PPV (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jxyama ( 821091 )
      i think the problem is, what you do with Tivo is not the concern of the tivo manufacturer. the fact they can delete things on their own is a bit over the top.

      even if you rent an apartment, your landlord still cannot just come into your place even though they "own" it.

      • Re:PPV (Score:3, Informative)

        by Suidae ( 162977 )
        even if you rent an apartment, your landlord still cannot just come into your place even though they "own" it.

        In the U.S. they can, as long as they give a minimum 24 hour notice.
  • Build your own... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Standmic ( 769361 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:06AM (#10653675) Homepage
    • I agree. My homebuilt PVR does everything I want without any restrictions. And they're cheap to build and require no monthly fees.

    • Re:Build your own... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:11AM (#10653737) Homepage
      you know I hear this mantra every time we have a Tivo article..... and it's not realistic...

      I went down that road, I built a mythbox and a freevo. I fought with them monthly. Then the service provider in the US dries up and forces you to register with them every 3 months with looming promises of having to pay for the right to access it.

      I gave up, sold all the equipment and bought a refurbed ReplayTV for $100.00 and have not looked back cince. I can easily get shows off the replay to a computer for burning to DVD or simply having a media server with lots of content. It always works and is worth the $12.95 a month to keep me from fighting with another change in XMLTV packages or other failure,change or waiting for the listing provider to change their mind again.

      for 99% of the people out there making your own PVR is not an option. hell for most techno-geeks
      it still is not an option.
      • Re: "cince" (Score:3, Funny)

        by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

        Today, a small part of the English language died.

  • As long as its still legal for me to record a movie and keep it forever, tivo can keep their restricted-box..

  • I was going to buy one for my wife and I and a couple for my parents but I will not be doing it now.

  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:09AM (#10653715) Homepage Journal
    I'm reading too many "Well I'm glad I don't get TiVo" or "This will KILL TiVo."

    No, what will kill TiVo is all of television, TV, and sporting leagues suing the pants off of them for providing something that the can prove is illegal (like viewing NFL games outside the specified market area). This is a setup to allow people to share shows amongst TiVos, but making sure they have a legal basis to not get sued.

    TiVo has already been hacked (and TiVo doesn't punish for it), so how long do you think it'll be between when TiVo allows program sharing and someone hacks it so you can avoid these new rules?
    • like viewing NFL games outside the specified market area
      That's not illegal! It's an artifical restriction that the media and sports industry setup to maximize profits!

      • by gcaseye6677 ( 694805 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:28AM (#10653963)
        I will never understand why some team owners think that blacking out home games is a good idea. If you can't watch your hometown team play on TV, are you going to all of a sudden decide to blow several hundred dollars to go to the stadium to see the game? I suppose some people are this braindead, but I would think most would say "screw the !" This strategy makes as much sense as the MPAA attempts to ban the VCR. Overall team profits should increase with more exposure as fans tend to buy team merchandise, go to games, watch games on TV which leads to advertising revenue, etc. Hint to team owners, if nobody goes to your games it's probably because your team sucks and the tickets are overpriced.
        • by rhombic ( 140326 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:30PM (#10654847)
          We're doing the experiment in San Diego, and so far it looks like the blackout is hurting ticket sales.

          For the past decade or so, blackouts were prevented by the city purchasing all the unsold tickets-- every home game was a sell out, courtesy of the taxpayers. This year, the clause was killed and so non-sold out home games (which is every home game) is blacked out. By the NFL's logic, therefore, you'd expect higher attendance at the game, right?

          So far, with three home games this season, average attendance is DOWN 14% [canoe.ca]! It looks like even the perennial biggest seller of the year, the Raiders game this weekend, won't sell out and so will be blacked out. The net result of the blackout? NOBODY CARES. The chargers are having a pretty decent season (4-3 so far, usually we're 1-6 at this point) and NOBODY CARES. When you take the games off the TV, the audience doesn't take it upon themselves to spend $100 each to go to the game, they just find something else to do Sunday. Lost ticket revenue, lost TV revenue, lost fans. Idiots.

  • I would just extract the movies that I wanted to keep indefinitely.

    And I'm a real nerd so I don't watch NFL. That's like sports or something.

  • by acomj ( 20611 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:13AM (#10653767) Homepage
    The new Tivos have a dvd-r. It would cut down on selling of sports dvds if you can just "burn your own" so content makers are going to freak. It still doesn't seem to restrictive since I don't watch pay per view or the NFL.

    like this one tivo / burner from pioneer [pioneerburner.com]
  • ...on my "Sleeper ISO" hacked series 2 DirecTiVo [info]. [linquist.net]

  • Macrovision (Score:5, Interesting)

    by St. Arbirix ( 218306 ) <matthew.townsend@g m a i l . c om> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:14AM (#10653776) Homepage Journal
    I remember Macrovision.

    They're the ones who did that funny trick with DVDs so the screen brightness would flicker which prevented anyone from running the television signal through any device that adhered to a standard.

    They're the asshats who slipped that little "suprise" in with Turbo Tax that one year. Appliance rape, I called it.

    TiVo should take the moral high road and at least supply some screwdriver-accessible switch which forces the machine to ignore these things they talk of in the article. The lawyer said they weren't expecting Macrovision to Trojan horse TiVo with this, but I don't think he's ever watched his computer sit in the corner and cry while a baby C_DILLA grows inside of it.
  • by Boone^ ( 151057 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:14AM (#10653780)
    Series1 hasn't seen a software update in eons, so I'm assuming us early adopters are safe from this? I can't imagine TivoToGo would be supported on Series 1 anyway.
  • by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:16AM (#10653795)
    Blame the NFL, content providers, etc. Do you expect Tivo to say "FUCK YOU WORLD, WE'Z DOING IT OUR WAY!" They'd be sued out of existance.
  • You just know that if TiVo hadn't implemented these restrictions that they'd have trouble with lawyers representing the NFL and the movie industry. It may make it less useful, but it's better than nothing. The real problem is the greed that dominates the entertainment industries and their attempts to jew every last dollar out of the hands of ordinary people. This move sucks, but don't blame TiVo.
  • Not a big deal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WebGangsta ( 717475 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:18AM (#10653822)
    So TiVo and the NFL reached an agreement regarding TiVo's planned ability to send fully recorded programs across the country so that the NFL maintains their localized blackouts. How can anyone have a problem with this? It's the same thing that the NFL did with DirecTV when the NFL Sunday Ticket was created.

    All the NFL is asking TiVo to do is not make recorded programs available for transfer while that program is still being aired. Once the game is finished, feel free to shoot it over. Of course, that would take hours of bandwidth at current speeds, so it's not really an issue anyway.

    I'd rather have companies like TiVo work with the content providers to reach agreements rather than have companies sue each other over supposed 'copyright' violations.

  • by steelerguy ( 172075 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:19AM (#10653830) Homepage
    Tivo is in big trouble anyway since all the major cable companies are coming out with their own DVR's [sciatl.com] with a pretty small monthly fee. This alone is probably enough to get rid of them in 5 years or so.

    Then they go removing features and pretty much pissing off their loyal customer base, the only people they have to keep them going financially. I imagine cable companies will have the same issues with auto deleting pay per view, and no out of market sporting events, but if they never give you that in the first place it won't be so bad. In addition their hardware is going to work on their systems a lot better than adding on a Tivo to your existing cable system.

    Bye bye Tivo.
    • by jgordon7 ( 49263 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:30AM (#10654001)
      As a recent owner of one of those Cable DVRs and being a previous tivo owner.

      I hope that is not the case. Since my experience with the cable service DVR is extremely poor. Even though the Cable one can record HD channels and has Dual Tuners, its user interface is down right awful to the point of being almost unuseable. It is slow to react, trying to FF through commericals is almost more painful than watching the commercials. Its conflict management is just plain dumb. If one episode of a show you have as a favorite conflicts with a movie you want to watch you tell it to record the movie and not the favorite show, well it stops recording ALL future shows of that favorite TOO.

      If you start watching a recorded show that is not done recording it starts you at LIVE time, not the beginning of the show. If you rewind to the beginning which is what you have to do, and the show finishes recording before you finish watching the show it JUMPS you forward to LIVE TV. And it does not remember where you were in the show when you go back to watch it.

      Trying to find something to record is damn near impossible. The only search ability is by Title FIRST LETTER, so for say Simpson you have to weed through all of the shows that begin with "S". It has Genre search but is equally useless.

      And for recorded duplicate shows, even if you tell only get first runs, it records every airing of a show. This also make the poor conflict management even worse since it wants to records shows that have repeat showings in a week too.

      I will be dropping this POS, as soon as I get my money together to build a HTPC.

      Its only saving grace is price. However that is big for alot of people and means we will soon see more crappy PVRs in the future.
    • by xThinkx ( 680615 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:43AM (#10654181) Homepage

      Parent is right about this one. Tivo's real fear should be all of the cable/satellite PVRs that are on the market. The true tivo "fans" will quickly turn when unremovable restrictions are enforced. Let's face it, the guy who's hacking a tivo could just as easily build a mythtv box or a windows equivalent.

      This whole issue illustrates a point I've been pointing out on /. for quite some time: It is impossible for movie/music companies to stifle the free flow of information. So tivo's going to be controlled now, oh well, time for any capable geek to move on to another technology which circumvents these measures. More importantly, time for the inept masses to look to the geek for their solutions as well.

      Something that the majority of people don't understand, even our president doesn't understand, that, is that you cannot rule a mass of intelligent motivated people with mandate. Look at the comparisons, prohibition, the war on drugs, the "war" on music "piracy", all failing, and rather miserably. Why? Because the motivation of the people and the means to accomplish these goals is far superior to that of the government trying to prevent them.

      So sure, let tivo slit their own throats an inch at a time, I'll still watch my ripped movies and I'm sure NFL fans will find a workaround as well.

  • Not a big deal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by igrp ( 732252 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:23AM (#10653881)
    I don't this this is such a big deal. As I understand it - and I might be wrong on this - these limitations only apply to new features (ie. remote access to recorded TV programming). So, I suppose this is basically a CYA maneuver to limit TiVo's liability and to stop costly litigation in its tracks.

    Plus, TiVos are indeed pretty hackable. In contrast to other manufacturers (eg. Microsoft put in a lot of effort to make sure the XBox was "unhackable"), TiVo doesn't really seem to mind people modifying their hardware all that much. And there are a lot of people who have "modded" their TiVos, even if it's just to swap out the harddrive for a bigger one. If you really want to permanently record a show, there's really nothing they can do to stop you. All they can do, is make it harder.

  • by AlphaWolf_HK ( 692722 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:24AM (#10653906)
    Based on what I know about the tivo's design, I think this will be an easy thing to get around.

    There are only so many ways that tivo can add tags to tell the difference between pay per views and on demand items so that it knows what it should or shouldn't delete. One way is through attributes stored in the MFS structure, another way is maybe a hidden flag somewhere in the MFS filesystem itself, and probably the least likely method would be to tag the tystream itself.

    No matter which of these methods they use, it would be very easy to identify and remove any tags. What would work even better is to patch the tivoapp binary so that it doesn't add these tags in the first place, which is otherwise a hard thing to accomplish, but several people in the tivo hacking scene have done quite well at things like this.
  • by prisonercx ( 40652 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:24AM (#10653907)
    You know, it's funny how this looks like a blow to consumers, when actually it's a blow against other businesses. How much revenue does TiVo and the NFL really think they are going to lose with this technology? This technology, in the consumer space, competes only with those "all games nationwide in a sport" package like DirectTV's NBA League Pass. How many consumers will both a) want to buy that package and b) be technically proficient and financially liquid enough to set up TiVo's around the country to stream all the games to their house? Not too many, entirely too much effort to get around paying ~$200/season.

    Where I can see this being used is the sports bar market (for example). You get a bunch of sports bars nationwide which agree to stream each other the games from each market. Now the major cable/dish networks lose the revenue from each of those bars buying a premium sports package. Multiply this by tens of thousands of interested businesses, and it adds up to a significant amount. It seems to me that this is the real issue at hand.
  • by bob670 ( 645306 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:24AM (#10653910)
    about 3.5 years now, I surely couldn't live without it at this point. But I guess the question I have is, who does this really effect? I don't think the average Tivo owner really cares as long as they get what they pay for. And in most cases you are "Paying Per View" for one view of that movie in a certain window, so as long as it's clear you have to watch it by a certain date, what is the issue? Same thing with the NFL, they share revenue based on a fairly complex formula, something like Tivo could really screw that up.

    These debates always boil down to those who are willing to pirate and those who aren't, but we can mask it as a "Fair Use" or "Consumer Rights" issue to keep the post count rolling. As far as Tivo goes, I watch a show, I delete it, I don't need to archive it for historical purposes and I have no right to do anything else with it. If it's really great I'll buy it on DVD and if it's like most shows I won't care. I'll bet I am in the majority of Tivo owners on this usage pattern yet people act like this policy somehow infringes on my right to use the device and it's content as described.

    I know it's hard for some of you to accept, but not everyone purchases consumer electronics to discover exploits and alternative uses, and most people are willing to accept some limitations for the added convenince that Tivo brings. Most people aren't pirating off ST:DS9 and editing out the commercials for their personal archive or for uploading to usenet. It's hardly a stretch to imagine your downloaded copy of Gigli is time limited and you have no friends, so stop playing that hacked version of Counter Strike Source with the aimbot you just found and watch your damn rental.

    • by Knight2K ( 102749 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:16PM (#10655369) Homepage
      I think the issue really is, in the analog world, I could tape every episode of a TV series that I wanted and keep them as long as the tape lasted. I also could record every football game I was interested in and watch them when I wanted. Some games, like the Patriot's snow bowl, I might want to watch several times or edit together with all the moments of their Super Bowl year. With the advent of CD burners and VCDs I could even convert them to digital format and save some shelf space.

      I know the argument about digital: every copy made is a perfect copy, indistinguisable from the original. In the analog world, I could just keep making copies of my original tape recording and only suffer 1 generational fall-off.

      I'm not interested in taping movies off of PPV and then charging other people to show them. But I would like to be able to tape Game 4 of the World Series and send it to my grandmother. I might want to show friends a tape of the playoff game I went to where it was 20 below zero. Is the NFL really hurt by that?

      The old joke is that nobody can figure out how to set the clock on their VCRs. Yet we still can record using VCRs even though some people don't use that functionality.

      Want to stop piracy, MPAA, et. al.? Bust people who use mass duplicators and sell bootleg DVD's and CD's on street corners. Or look to your own people. How many people do you figure get to see a movie before its official release?

      People who taped movies off of TV still bought commercial tapes and DVD's. The quality was usually better because the transfers were made off of the master copies and the tapes could be sized to accomodate a full standard play version and no more. DVD's can optimize bitrates and provide additional discs. The content producers can also provide extras that you might not get in an OTA broadcast.

      Consumers are limited by compression used in broadcast, compression used by the Tivo to store files, and the expense involved to buy enough media or have enough storage to store content in at a desired quality level. Those prices may drop, but video files haven't been getting much smaller, especially with HD-quality video. Consumer writable DVD's and CD's use ink that degrades, as opposed to pressed plastic.

      Also consider that the piracy loss numbers that the various associations throw out are frequently exposed as over-blown. Frequently, piracy numbers are followed by a report of record profits. I don't think my making a mix CD for a road trip or ripping DVD's to a portable video player is hurting the content producers all that much.

      Accepting degraded functionality only makes it okay for the content distributors to take more capabilities away from you that you used to have. How long until you have to buy the right to Tivo an individual series? Or each episode in a series? Or not be able to timeshift a series at all? And all because you can now get cool sounds out of 6 speakers and can see every pore in Uma Thurman's skin.
  • by seibed ( 30057 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:25AM (#10653925)
    I have a Tivo, I quite like my Tivo and deleting PPV movies and NFL doesn't make a spot of difference to me because I don't watch them and I don't care. I suspect that 95% of consumers out there are the same way, so its only 5% of people that are even going to weigh the decision. I don't think PPV is competing heavily against the "watch it many times" market becuase then you'd just buy the DVD or Rent&Rip, hell there are 1$ DVD rentals everywhere... PPV is way overpriced IMHO anyway.
  • by unsinged int ( 561600 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:29AM (#10653990)
    neutered Aibos?
  • by yndrd ( 529288 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:30AM (#10654002) Homepage
    In my TiVo experience, it's just been useful for delaying my viewing for my convenience, not for archiving things. That's what DVD is for.
  • Not much to see (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AvantLegion ( 595806 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:38AM (#10654101) Journal
    The NFL one is a non-issue. Blackout rules apply. Although I may argue against the effectiveness of blackouts, their intention is valid: prevent TV coverage from pillaging ticket sales, and ultimately hurting/killing the league. TV contracts are lucrative, but ticket sales are the lifeblood.

    The PPV one is a little more disconcerting. Don't really like the idea. Not that I ever get PPV movies, but I don't like auto-deletion like that.

    But let's be real: does anyone think TiVo WANTS to do any of this?? This is TiVo making small concessions to help hold back the onslaught.

    • Re:Not much to see (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rhombic ( 140326 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:14PM (#10654657)
      "TV contracts are lucrative, but ticket sales are the lifeblood."

      Maybe so, but does blacking out the TV actually increase ticket sales? Our city is doing the experiment, and as far as I can tell (they're not releasing numbers as far as I've heard) bringing the blackout back doesn't seem to be upping attendance.

      I live in San Diego, where we didn't have black-outs the last few seasons, courtesy of an a$$-raping contract between the Chargers and our crooked-as-a-twisty-straw city council that guarenteed them the revenue of a sell-out for every game-- the city would pay them full ticket price for every unsold seat. After much wrangling and public outcry, that clause has been terminated, and every non-sellout home game (which is every game excapt the Raiders) is now blacked out.

      Know what? I don't know a single person who's gone to more games because of it. My group of friends averaged one or two games a year, and we're going to one this year. They lost the TV revenue, and it doesn't look like they're upping seat sales-- the blackout just makes people not care as much. I used to watch pretty much every home game, and the Chargers got the TV revenue from it. This year, I don't even know what their record is, haven't made the effort to watch the away games in a while, just don't care anymore. That is not good marketing.

  • by Mr. Cancelled ( 572486 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:39AM (#10654120)
    I made a PVR system about 3 years ago and haven't regretted it since. Mine isn't as complex or capable as MythTV (primarily because MythTV doesn't support my ATI 8500DV), nor is it as simple as a Tivo, but it can fit a 2 hr. movie onto DVD at full DVD resolution with no problems.

    And since I'm using ATI's latest & greatest software, I'm able to record natively at this resolution in DVD-ready mpeg2 format.

    Other solutions, such as ShowShifter, offer a prettier front end, but they're unable to take advantage of ATI's built in codecs, so mpeg recording is a 2 part process, in that you record in full DV, and then re-compress the video to mpeg, or whatever I want.

    It's nice to know that while I'm archiving my girlfriends HBO series, that I don't need to worry about the manufacturer of my equipment suddenly changing what my equipment will, or will not do.

    Thanks again Tivo! It's moves like this that really make me think I made the right choice by building instead of purchasing your product.
  • so... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shokk ( 187512 ) <ernieoportoNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:40AM (#10654134) Homepage Journal
    I own a TiVo and don't ever order PPV, so this does not affect me, is a non-issue, and does not make my TiVo Series1 less useful to me. Is there honestly that much stuff on PPV that you want to record and watch again that you will base your PVR buying decision on it? Honestly, are you going to watch that 90 second boxing match from 5 years ago that you paid $50 for?

    I would instead think about getting a TiVo with DVD writer built in so that I could burn it to disc and watch it anywhere outside of TiVo's influence and then they can delete it all they want.
  • if anything (Score:3, Insightful)

    by asv108 ( 141455 ) <asv@ivo[ ]com ['ss.' in gap]> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:41AM (#10654145) Homepage Journal
    Tivo should be looking to expand their functionality at this point in time. With companies such Dish network and comcast rolling out their own pvr services, Tivo needs to do more to make a cost justification for the service. Sorry, downloadable movies and dvd burning aren't going to bring the masses or keep your existing customers. Reducing what they can record will drive people away in droves. Unless, Tivo makes a major paradigm shift towards increase the function of the device instead of increasing revenue through partners by sacrificing user freedom.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:52AM (#10654344)
    Buy a TiVo lately? Sometime in the next few months, your machine will quietly download a patch that makes it respond to a new copy protection scheme from software maker Macrovision.

    To reduce functionality after you've bought a unit sounds like fraud. Bait & switch. Like buying a fast sports car, and then having them download a patch into your engine computer that speed limits it to 85MPH so that the car company won't be sued for selling fast cars. I'd be looking for a class action lawyer to sue the pants off of TiVo if my box suddenly stopped doing something it used to do -- regardless of any license agreement that may have come with it.

    And it's such a great way to advertise to new customers. Buy the new TiVo. It does less than the old model!

    Now my question is: will this apply to my Dish Network PVR?

  • by TheRealStyro ( 233246 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:15PM (#10654674) Homepage
    Actually, this sounds quite reasonable. Why would you want to keep PPV/VOD programs stuffing up your TIVO/PVR? A reasonable finite time for PPV should be tolerated as long as a more permanent digital media recording (ie DVD) is made available within the timeline. As for VOD, I don't know why you would/should want to record it anyhow - it's 'on demand' - just order it again should you want to see it.

    I don't see how this is any real threat to 'fair use'. You can still record the programs, but you have a limited timeline to watch. If you can't watch within that timeline, maybe you didn't really want to watch.
  • by Gorimek ( 61128 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:18PM (#10654701) Homepage
    The NFL press release seems to boil down to this sentence.

    After detailed discussions with TiVo, the NFL now concurs that TiVo's current technology will not allow real-time transmissions that would be a cause of concern for the NFL.

    Or in other words, nothing will change in this regard.

    The PPV timeout thing is a real difference, but PPV is not part of the general Tivo service anyway. Don't buy them if you don't like the conditions.
  • by telemonster ( 605238 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:22PM (#10654752) Homepage
    Okay, why hasn't anyone created their own Linux for the Tivo hardware platform? For some reason, hacking the Tivo is taboo just because the thing runs linux. Oh it runs linux, and they "let us" "hack" it putting in bigger drives. CLUEBAT SAYS, YOU OWN IT. They can't stop you from upgrading it. CLUEBAT SAYS, if you were to replace the program guide system with something based off of XMLTV or some other open source project, they can't cry foul.

    People laugh about the Xbox, Linux, and Microsoft loosing money since the thing is supposidly sold as a loss leader. But Tivo, Nooo can't touch that.

    I called Tivo to inquire about how to add one of those "Press thumbs up to record" to a commercial. They wouldn't talk, they referred me to buy a $30,000 system that inserts the "push thumbs up to record" into the program signal. A EEG Line 21 encoder/decoder in raw mode and a commercial on VHS later I figured out how it was stored but haven't continued to research. They weren't nice, they weren't overflowing with joy. MY opinion is they took Replay's business, kind of like a Microsoft if you will.

    So how does the Tivo work? Is there a software framebuffer rendering the menus to MPEG2 then pushing it to the decoder hardware? My roomate got a new Tivo and upgraded for someone, and I got the chance to peek inside. The new Tivos are using Broadcom KFIR-II chips for MPEG2 encoding (and probably decoding?). These chips are already usable under linux via the Pinnacle PCTV Deluxe USB unit. They use the exact same MPEG2 chipset, I put one of my PCTV boards next to the tivo, and the chips are identical in revision, size and everything else.

    It is my guess that people could make an open source OS replacement for the Tivo hardware platform that would introduce all of the features that Tivo is taking away. Hell, might even be able to make it run on a BSD varient, NetBSD powered Tivo... bring it ON!

    I'm really curious how the Tivo renders the menus... outside of this, I can't think of any really difficult obstacles, unless the architecture is very very proprietary (MIPS core on the new boxes, PPC on the old..).

  • by Capt_Troy ( 60831 ) <`tfandango' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @12:37PM (#10654939) Homepage Journal
    I have a way around all of this. Here's what I do.

    Get about 10 VHS tapes and 2 VCRs. Set the VCRs to record all of your shows. Then, when your VCRs are done recording, take the tapes out and put sticky tabs on them noting what shows are recorded on each tape. Then put the tapes in a big stack and put two new tapes in the VCRs.

    Using this method I've only lost about a dozen shows due to lazyness in sticky tab notation and misplacement of tapes (and occasionally the baby will rearrange them for me).

    Anyway, who needs a TIVO when you can follow these simple steps and keep your shows until the sticky tab falls off.

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