NFL and Motion Picture Industry Trying to Block TiVo-to-Go

PVRblog reported on the preemptive attempt by the National Football League and the Motion Picture Association of America to stop the marketing of TiVo-to-Go, a product that has not hit the market yet, despite the fact that products such as the Microsoft Portable Media Center and PC-based video recording software that are already on the market have more features.

These organizations are up-in-arms at the fact that TiVo hopes to produce technology that would allow digital content to be transferred between up to 10 affiliated devices which could be PCs, portable video players, and other digital video recorders. The organizations argue that a technology like this should be prohibited because there is no guarantee that the affiliated devices are all owned and controlled by the same person or household.

I think the amount of control that the MPAA and the NFL are seeking is excessive. The digital content distribution technology should not be crippled because rights holders fear that everyone is a potential video pirate. The vast majority of Americans know that they should respect the performers' and producers' rights to make a living, and that reasonable fees should be paid for certain programming. This is the foundation of pay-cable channels like HBO, services like NFL Sunday Ticket, and value-added channel tiers on cable and satellite.

Before the FCC even considers the NFL's objections to a service like TiVo-to-Go, I'd like to see them make a counter-offer. Would they consider allowing NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers to have the rights that TiVo plans to offer TiVo-to-Go users? That might be a reasonable compromise, since paying for the Sunday Ticket service would make the person who wants to transfer video of professional football games to various devices that he owns a direct customer of the National Football League. That transfer capability could be one of the enhanced rights that the NFL grants to Sunday Ticket subscribers.

In order to make this happen, however, a digital rights management regime allowing different rights to be assigned to each program would have to be implemented. A lot of people are really wary of the introduction of a technology like this. If it were to be implemented, it would have to be controlled by companies that are not affiliated with rights holders, just like Apple Computer controls the iTunes Music Store.