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Television Media Toys Hardware

TiVo User's Fears Explored 363

elrous0 writes "In spite of TiVo's continuing insistence that recent appearances of 'red flag' recordings are mere "glitches," the AP is reporting that customers are beginning to get nervous about the new content-blocking feature added in a recent TiVo upgrade. The story quotes Matt Haughey, of, as saying 'TiVo would be of limited utility in the future if the studios were allowed to do this with regular broadcast content ... This is like cell-phone jammers. What if you couldn't talk on your cell phone? If customers can't do something with their TiVo that they could in the past, they will stop using it.'" We've touched on this topic in the past.
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TiVo User's Fears Explored

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  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:18PM (#13623289)

    ArsTechnica's [] Ken "Caesar" Fisher [] has written a rather insightful article [] about just this issue. Well worth the read.

    As "Caesar" stresses in his article, DRM on TiVo is nothing new []. There's really no point in getting steamed at TiVo about this...they're victims of DRM just as much as their customers.

    If we're going to fix this problem, we need to do it at this [] level...not at TiVo's level.
    • by Shamashmuddamiq ( 588220 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:30PM (#13623390)
      There's also a good article about audio DRM here []. It's nice to know that consumers (at least the savvy ones) are already starting to notice that DRM is encroaching on their freedoms.
    • TiVo voluntarily added this crap to their product, so it is their fault.

      (I don't completely believe Caesar's article. What law forces TiVo to implement DRM? FCC broadcast flag approval is a red herring, since the broadcast flag was killed.)
      • by wiggles ( 30088 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:38PM (#13623468)
        Copyright law forces them to license functionality from Macrovision, who said they would only license their product to TiVo if they put this functionality in, so to answer your question, copyright law plus contract law says it has to be there. Originally, TiVo said that they would only use it for Video-On-Demand and Pay-Per-View, but a bug popped up last week that put restrictions on some syndicated programming (King of the Hill, Simpsons).
        More info here [].
        • How did Copyright Law force them to add anything? It seems more likey to me that certain cartels forced them to put it in under threat of legal action using Copyright Law, but the law didn't force them to do anything.
          • The PPV and VOD broadcasts are encrypted by Macromedia's technology. In order to decode said broadcasts as cable boxes do, they had to license Macromedia's decoder, or face the wrong side of the DMCA (breaking an effective copy protection scheme). They could either not record PPV or VOD at all, or add this functionality. They chose to add functionality with restrictions.
    • by Secrity ( 742221 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:33PM (#13623431)
      Just because TiVo considers itself to be a DRM victim doesn't mean that people should continue to buy DRM crippled TiVo's.
    • Saying that the King of the Hill issue was noise smacks of B.S. That that is his opening salvo really weakens that article.
    • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:41PM (#13623490)
      One thing that needs to be really stressed is the fact that people are better off aiming their ire at the content industry, not TiVo. Why? Because copyright holders under US law unfortunately have the ability to dictate things such as "you cannot record this," "you can only watch this one," and "you have 7 days to watch this." Those are legal rights that copyright holders can and have established with distribution partners. Let me clarify this situation.

      This sounds so wrong to me. There is no law mandating that TiVo include these features yet. If there was, then every VCR sold would need them too - and all the satellite boxes already sold would be upgraded with it.

      TiVo still is the problem. They're doing more to aid the content creation industry than they are for their paying customers. I have yet to hear of any copyright statute in law that says a copyright holder can regulate your use of content after you've purchased it - or received it for free over the air.

      LET TIVO KNOW HOW MUCH THIS ANGERS YOU, or you're in line to lose more than this!

      Mentioning it to Congress can't hurt either.

      • If there was, then every VCR sold would need them too - and all the satellite boxes already sold would be upgraded with it. Actually, satellite receivers have had this for a long time. I've only seen it once or twice, but my receivers have shown lock icons on random shows, and output macrovision when playing them, to prevent recording to VCR.
      • by monkeydo ( 173558 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:10PM (#13623784) Homepage
        I have yet to hear of any copyright statute in law that says a copyright holder can regulate your use of content after you've purchased it - or received it for free over the air.

        I'm not sure what you mean by this, but that's exactly what copyright is all about. Title 17 [] of the US Code tells you what you may or may not do with copyrighted content without the owner's permission. Specifcally, 17 USC 106 states:

        The owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
        (1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;

        Yes, there are stautory and judicial exceptions to that exclusivity, but there you go.
        • >I have yet to hear of any copyright statute in law that says a copyright holder can regulate your use of content after you've purchased it - or received it for free over the air.

          I'm not sure what you mean by this

          He's obviously referring to personal use, not commercial use or redistribution or public performance.

          So no, in this context copyright law places no restrictions. You do not need the copyright holder's permission to make Fair Use.

          US Code tells you what you may or may not do with copyrighted conte
      • I agree to a large degree, but IMO Congress gets much of the blame.

        An example I've used before is the DVD player. AFAIK there's no law requiring DVD manufacturers to enforce the instructions that prevent me from fast-forwarding or skipping whatever I want on the DVD (FBI/Interpol warnings, previews...). So why do they do it when its obvious that's not what consumers want?

        The only answer I have is that they do this is that they need a valid DCSS key to play the content if they don't want to run afoul of the
    • As "Caesar" stresses in his article, DRM on TiVo is nothing new. There's really no point in getting steamed at TiVo about this...they're victims of DRM just as much as their customers.

      Our Dish Networks DVR does not have DRM and in fact we am legally allowed to record anything we want with it (and we do all the time). It even has instructions in the manual as to how to copy recorded events to VHS (though the same instructions could be used to record to any media).

      So, why then is TiVo a victim whereas
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ugayay>> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:20PM (#13623295) Journal

    This is related to a previous article to which I posted my intent were tivo/"the industry" to begin to rein in my ability to:

    • time shift
    • burn to dvd
    • xfer to computer
    • time shift and store indefinitely PPV

    I would pretty much dump my tivo... since those are the features of tivo that make television palatable. Since that related article, I've informally caucused friends and family with the possible changes in tivo services/features. Every single one of them agreed they'd not have use for tivo either. (And, they were all very concerned that this could happen -- especially after I verified with each one they were actually on the release of tivo that had these new "features".)

    From what I've read, and my correspondence, tivo has resisted as well as they could for as long as they could. I wonder how it must feel at tivo these days when these fucktards start imposing their questionable (unethical) "standards" unilaterally. Sheesh.

    Kind of reminds me of and old, old, old Peanuts cartoon... Lucy sees Linus playing with her toys, and in rage takes them all away. Linus is crestfallen, and Lucy taking pity as she walks away tosses him a rubber band, "Here, you can play with this". The next few frames show Linus becoming increasingly fascinated and entertained by and with the rubber band until finally Linus is totally in rapture. Lucy comes back, angrily rips that rubber band from Linus and says, "I didn't mean for you to have that much fun with it!".

    • From what I've read, and my correspondence, tivo has resisted as well as they could for as long as they could. I wonder how it must feel at tivo these days when these fucktards start imposing their questionable (unethical) "standards" unilaterally. Sheesh.

      So while resisting flagged content they have opened the doors to additional commercials during fast forwarding? Give me a break. I loved my Tivo (and I love my DirecTivo) but there is absolutely no reason that someone should pay ~$14/mo to have to put u
  • by jasonhamilton ( 673330 ) <jason AT tyrannical DOT org> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:20PM (#13623305) Homepage
    They are of no use to me anymore. A slightly better interface than the rest just doesn't cut it.
    • Slashdotters my start dumping TiVo but I think it will be awhile before the mainstream catches on to this or cares.
      • by kabz ( 770151 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:42PM (#13623505) Homepage Journal
        People are going to start *caring* very very quickly as soon as programs start expiring automatically and can't be saved.

        If I was TIVO, I'm not sure I would have made the entire screen red. That's really going to upset people. Maybe this will become the 'RED SCREEN OF DEATH' for TiVO.
        • by MrRogers2 ( 538216 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:19PM (#13623854)
          People are going to start *caring* very very quickly as soon as programs start expiring automatically and can't be saved.

          And this is exactly how it should be. Let's all get up in arms over things we don't care about? If you watch pay per view and this gets in the way of how you use your TiVo then cancel your subscription, what better way to make your point? (Well, not you as I imagine you're not a TiVo user.)

          As soon as this hits a show I want to watch and keep I'll be canceling my subscription. I debated paying the lifetime fee for my TiVo, but then I give up the only real way I've got to tell TiVo to shove it if I need to.
  • So what's new now? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kelmenson ( 592104 ) <kelmenson@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:20PM (#13623307)
    The AP article seems to be discussing exactly what was already discussed to death both here and on the TiVo-user sites. What's going to be different between this discussion and the linked, previous, Slashdot discussion?
  • All The More Reason (Score:5, Informative)

    by dringess ( 552168 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:21PM (#13623308)
    To build your own PVR with MythTV [] or BeyondTV []. It's more work, but you have more control.
    • I'd have to say it would be rather intresting to see the site stats for these sites. Does traffic spike after news like this comes out for a TiVo?

      I personally dont have a tivo (hell, I dont have cable or satalite or anything), but after news like this I'd very very very worried about getting one. I'd build a MythTV - or find someone to build/sell me one (if I wasnt capable) - I'm sure there are plently of people selling pre-build MythTV boxes.
    • by cdmz1 ( 97535 )
      What a dumb comment. Some of us don't want to spend the time to tinker with that shit just to watch TV. Most of us TiVo owners know about Myth and Beyond - if we had the inclination to DIY we would have.

      What cracks me up is that Slashdot used to be "WE LOVE TiVo because its based on Linux, way to fight the man!!" to "Screw TiVo they are the MAN with the DRM, DIY with some 0.x release of MythTV! Way to Fight the MAN!"

    • by boomgopher ( 627124 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:51PM (#13623583) Journal
      That app works awesome on an old laptop I converted into a PVR - BeyondTV choked hard, and MythTV doesn't support my USB2 MPEG encoder.

    • I haven't heard anything about it for a while, but wasn't there supposed to be a Myth-friendly distro around? It would be great if a Myth distro existed with pre-loaded support for all the major capture cards. Then you'd be able to have your PVR up and running an hour.
    • Sure! Oh wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BLKMGK ( 34057 ) <> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:18PM (#13623845) Homepage Journal
      As soon as there are SAT and Cable decoders that can be put into my home PC turned Myth box that allow me to record premium content the way I can with my hacked DTIVO I'll do it - in a heartbeat. However right now the best thing Myth seems to offer is OTA HD. Or maybe I could buy multiple cable\SAT decoder boxes and lash them to the Myth box with IRDA dongles? Umm, no thanks.

      Myth is way cool, I LOVE the idea I really do. However it cannot give me what I *currently* have with the DTIVO being used in my home now. NO, *my* TIVO doesn't have this DRM code and *no* it won't have the code unless I allow it - and I'm not. I also do not see those FFWD commercials. I'm actually 2 revisions back with my DTIVO running software never meant for my box. (lol) I'll move to the 6.x code soon, really I will. But 7.2x can goto hell, I see no reason to run it and lots of reasons not to.

      In any case, until I can get what I want out of MythTV I'm not wasting my time building one. OTA broadcast stuff I gave up years ago and I refuse to go back. The day they can decode my digital cable directly or attach to my SAT dish directly (as can be done in other countries apparently) I'll switch but not until then. If my TIVO suddenly stops working because they have blocked my hacks then I'll happily return it and my DIRECT subscription too.

      P.S. Yes, I can do extraction, streaming, and other things on my box. [] The funny thing is that I'm far from bleeding edge with what I've done on my machine!
    • Systm has a show on MythTV [] in a variety of formats including Ogg Vorbis+Theora. The show is licensed to share under a Creative Commons license, as are the other episodes of Systm.

    • Yeah, I didn't belive the "noise" argument either. A lot of people reported this and many of them were in the same area. I think either the Fox guys were over protective, or they had some oddball equipment installed that accidentally tripped the flag.
      • Probably the latter. Think about it: If FOX doesn't let your TiVo record the show, then chances are you won't watch it. There is then no chance you will see their commercials. If FOX does let you record the show, then chances are you will watch it, and maybe see the commercials. Then FOX gets to take advantage of the stats that the TiVo sends back to, well, TiVo. In other words, even if you're skipping commercials, there's really no downside for FOX letting you record the thing, and there is a downside for
  • by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:22PM (#13623322)
    The growing concern by broadcasters and Hollywood puts TiVo in a spot. However, I think standing by their customers and taking this challenge head-on is a good approach. Their customers want the features they have grown accustomed to. I think it's in their best interest to fight for their customers here. Like digital music, TV is at the crossroads of a new way of viewing movies and shows. We can hope they stand at this juncture and say, "Look, Guys, this is not 1975. It's time to move into the new age here."
  • Hax0r it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lakee911 ( 792405 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:23PM (#13623329)
    It's only a matter of days before a hack will surface on how to bypass any anti-recording-flag. The underground TiVo community is huge and need not worry die hard TiVo fans. Will it prevent casual TV recording? Maybe. Will it hurt the TiVo company? Probably. Can we still record what ever we want? Sure! Jason
    • It's only a matter of days before a hack will surface on how to bypass any anti-recording-flag.

      It is also only a matter of time before content providers start suing and/or sending people to jail under the DMCA for doing this.

  • by Photon Ghoul ( 14932 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:23PM (#13623331)
    I was just on the verge of diving into the modernity and purchase/subscribe to a DVR. Tivo was one of the top choices - but forget it now. What other good choices are there, really? Besides spending a few grand on building my own.
    • by screevo ( 701820 ) <screevo AT screevo DOT com> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:33PM (#13623433) Homepage Journal
      Heres some links for good hardware to start with. E16856101111 [] - I actually use this very one. Comes with some excellent media center software, a remote control, built in stereo Hi-Fi unit (can operate independantly of the rest of the computer). Essentially, you end up with a DVR/Media Center/Hi Fi Stereo unit. E16856101233 [] - Intel-based version of above E16814127987 [] - Reccomended tuner to the above hardware. I use a cheapy ATI TV Wonder that I've had for a few years anyway

      You dont need a high power processor, a ton of RAM, or anything beyond the on-board video, unless you plan on doing things beyond DVRing. I have a bit of experience with this, so drop me a message if you want any furter info.
      • For that solution I'd recommend going with the semptron getting a barton core athlon XP would have a slight edge in performance, but for a DVR the semptron should be plenty fast, and can be had real cheap :) 512M ram, a 300-320 gig HD, and a DVD-burner and you've got a pretty nice PVR, throw a PSX style controller USB device and you've got a kick ass emulator station too ;) and the total hardware costs should be right around $500.

        but really many slashdotters will have a Pc of that generation lying around.
    • by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:47PM (#13623544)
      You don't need a few grand to build your own. I started building my own myth box 2 days ago. Got it pretty much fully working last night. I spent $130 on a Hauppauge PVR-350, which has a great quality TV in/out with hardware MPEG encoder/decoder. Since the PVR-350 is doing the tough work, it's a very light load on the CPU. I threw it on an extra P3-450, and live TV (simultaneos record and timeshifted playback) still leaves it about 75-80% idle time.

      So you can see the system requirements are very light. If you don't have any old hardware laying around, then even buying some new bottom-of-the-line stuff should do good with this card. Just off the top of my head, $100 each for CPU, motherboard and hard drive, $50 for memory, $30 each for case, CD/DVD drive and a cheap VGA card, plus $130 for the PVR-350, and you are only looking at $570. Actually, if you watch around, you can routinely find 200GB hard drive's for $40-$50 after rebate, so that puts you just over $ your time (whatever you value that at).

    • Besides spending a few grand on building my own. My rig was pretty cheap, easy to set up, it's small, and works great:

      Gateway 9000-series Laptop with TV-out USB2 PCMCIA Card $20
      WinTV USB2 MPEG encoder + remote $100 with rebate
      SageTV PVR Software $80
      USB2 external drive for storage $100
      Zap2IT subscription comes free with Sage

      So I spent less than $400 without even trying to save cash. I'm certain you can do it for a lot cheaper, especially if you go the MythTV route
  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:24PM (#13623347) Homepage Journal
    TiVo has caved into the content producers, and handed over control of the DRM process to them. The recent accidental flagging of content in this way proves it is out of TiVo's hands, and within the realm of control of the broadcaster. That makes it only a matter of time before broadcasters will begin to use this feature. If TiVo wants to retain loyal customers, they need to take back control: they should require digital authorization codes for DRM features and DRM the DRM so that only TiVo can authorize DRM restrictions on content. Unfortunatley, even then TiVo users will have to worry about whether TiVo will allow DRM on content only in reasonable situations, or if TiVo will cave into monetary or legal pressures and allow it on anything the broadcasters want.

    The end of TiVo's usefullness is approaching quickly. Probably time to get some more developers working on the open source alternatives.
  • Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Str8Dog ( 240982 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:29PM (#13623386) Homepage Journal
    Exactly why is TiVo adding this functionality? I cannot for the life of me figure it out. Is there a law somewhere that says they must? Or are they just afraid of the cost of a legal battle with the **AAs? Are the media companies so powerful now that they can impose thier will with just the treat of a lawsuit?
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by MarkGriz ( 520778 )
      "Exactly why is TiVo adding this functionality? I cannot for the life of me figure it out"

      It was a licensing requirement from Macrovision
      See here .html []
    • Yes. Notice that at this point, no one is getting sued for content downloading, they are getting sent collection letters. The only 3 content download cases that I am aware of are the 3 single mothers going to court. -Rick
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:14PM (#13623821)

      Exactly why is TiVo adding this functionality?

      Put yourself in Tivo's place. Do you listen to your individual customers who are worried about what the industry will do and refrain from potentially screwing them all over? Or do you instead get that huge sale from Comcast who is willing to sign a contract to use Tivo hardware in every set top box for the next five years, thus forcing most cable customers to become your customer? After all, since the content providers just want the DRM there and promise not to use it till it is too late for your customers and since most of your customers won't know/care that it has happened for years it won't lose you too many sales. Tivo is just playing it safe by partnering with the big boys rather than fighting them.

      Truthfully, this market has room for up to four distinct players: Content providers, hardware providers, software providers, and scheduling service providers. The big cable companies want to make sure they own all that space and will play dirty to do it. It is almost impossible to challenge them in the content space, since they are the only source of sufficient bandwidth in the last mile.

      Ideally, all four of those areas would be separate and interoperable and there would be competition for each. You could buy an X brand set top PVR, install OS Y, subscribe to scheduling service Z, and still be stuck getting your content from the existing cable company. Already there are companies like Tivo and RealTV making the hardware and software, projects like MythTV and companies like Elgato providing software, and services like TitanTV selling just the subscription. This is the Cable companies ruin, so they are trying hard to maintain power. Thus they make a deal with the number one player, give them a really sweet deal with a long term supplier contract for more money and boxes than they could hope to sell on their own in years, and make sure the stage is set for them to gut the PVR space, by providing their own, limited, but cheaper (by the exact amount they just raised everyone's cable bill) boxes. No one can compete with their bundling, and they have a government enforced monopoly on the last mile that cannot be taken away easily. The result is Tivos starting to suck and be included in cable company provided boxes, that kinda sorta do what the users want, for now.

      There are several possibly disruptive factors in their plans. One is cheap, fast internet that could cut them out of the loop and make them compete. Luckily for them, the cable companies and the content producers are mostly owned by the same corp. so there is little chance of that without a big indy video scene appearing. The second wildcard is Microsoft. Their media PS edition could completely screw them, but MS is planning for the long term. They will probably play nice and partner and add all the DRM they want, so long as it is MS DRM and locks everyone in to Windows for the foreseeable future. MS know some day it will all run thru the computer and that day they will subsume the cable companies. Until then they are content to build strength with their file format and OS lock in. The last wildcard is another Tivo. If someone can make a cheap enough device to do what Tivo does, that is easy to use and does not play ball with the cable companies, it could all come tumbling down. They are probably terrified of MythTV, since it cannot be bought out or bribed into the fold.

      At least that is my take on it. I could be wrong.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:29PM (#13623387) Homepage
    Tivo is great, and a few days of using it is the reason why I've been unable to watch TV without a PVR since. But for my own use, it's all about MythTV, and this story is exactly the reason. Pick whatever free PVR you want if you don't like Myth.

    And if you don't like any free PVR, and are going to say something like "Free PVR X is too difficult to set up" or "X has a crappy interface compared to Tivo", I'm going to agree. But consider that in five years your Tivo is going to have the same usability and fewer features, while the free PVR will get easier to set up and use, will have more features, and above all will still be Free.

    Tivo was all about taking control of your TV experience. The industry doesn't like that, and they are slowly going to take that control back. The Free PVRs, much like Free Software itself, is a way for you to keep that control.
    • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:41PM (#13623496)
      But consider that in five years your Tivo is going to have the same usability and fewer features, while the free PVR will get easier to set up and use, will have more features, and above all will still be Free.

      Well, believe me when I tell you -- the content providers will start going after the homebrew PVR market next. Whether it will be getting to the TV-in card manufacturers or to Congress -- they will do everything in their power to make sure that *they* control their content regardless of fair-use.

      So, in five years, when you claim Tivo will be worthless I expect the home-brew PVR software to be acceptable for a good many people to use but I also expect that there will be built-in hardware limitations that will only be circumvented by those with the ability to create their own hardware solutions that are flag free.

      Scary, I know -- welcome to Corporate America.
  • I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:31PM (#13623402) Journal
    I have watched and laughed as Tivo has bent over and taken everything from the industry. I am both a ReplayTV and MythTV owner. I don't understand why or how Tivo does what they do. If I bought a box with functionality X,Y,Z, and later Y is ammended in a way that causes some controversy (in a way I do not like), then I think Tivo has broken a contract.

    Throughout it all, my ReplayTV experience has gone un-touched, I still have commercial skipping and the like. The way Replay skirts the issue is that they change model numbers and can then change the feature set. My 4500 has commercial skip where the 5500 does not. How Tivo is legally able to change it on all models is beyond me.
    • My 4500 has commercial skip where the 5500 does not.

      Funny that they remove a popular feature - one of the most popular features of a DVR - and increase the model number at the same time.

    • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:03PM (#13623722)
      Because a Tivo generally does what people want it to do. Of all Tivo owners I know, and it's quite a few, I'm the only one who even follows it enough to know about this issue. Tivo still acts as an easy digital VCR with nice software and a generally reliable schedule. That's what most people are after.

      I don't know a single one in real life, as opposed to message boards, who give a flip about transfering shows to their PCs. Most don't even bother with PPV movies, which is what the expiration flag is intended for. It's just not that important. If they really, desperately want a season of a show, they buy the box set for $60 rather than spend who knows how long formatting and burning their own DVDs.

      That's the thing people who push the "roll your own" solutions forget: the TIME involved. They place no value on their time. I have the skill level to do a MythTV. Heck, I have the skill to WRITE a DVR solution, but I read accounts of installs, and I'd have to be on a steady diet of boilermakers and cheap crack to waste my time like that for something as trical as television.

      And if a network activates the flag to prevent recording of their show? Fuck 'em. Who cares? No Tivo owners will watch. The network is just hurting themselves.
  • There are some good reasons to upgrade to the new TiVo software even if it does not let you record content with the broadcast flag. The biggest reason for me is that now you can do the complete setup process without a telephone line. The entire setup from system reset can be done with wireless internet.

    I just bought a new TiVo and was upset that it shipped with the last software rather than the most recent. I had to take it to a neighbors house to have it use the phone line since I only have a cell pho

  • by ratajik ( 57826 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:31PM (#13623408) Homepage Journal
    I cancelled my TiVo subscription 4 days ago - I'm now using BeyondTV. I had the original model of the TiVo, and have been paying the monthly on it since TiVo first came out (yeah, I know, in hindsight I should have bought the lifetime subscription). I loved my TiVo - it really changed how I watched TV. But what I wanted in a DVR is something that records TV, keeps it until I tell it to get rid of it, etc.

    The TiVo rep argued with me that they had "resolved" the problems with shows getting deleted. I understand that it wasn't intentionally turned on, but the fact is the device now supports and allows broadcasts to muck around with this kind of thing. They offered to knock the monthly down 1/2, but I'm not interested any more.

    I don't like the direction the company is heading in, so I've switched. I'm not going back, unless there's a radically change in their direction - and even then I'm no likely to. I like having control over my DVR - dual headed, 1TB storage, DVD burner, can ADD shows to the machine (and get them off), and I can extend and expand that machine as I see fit.

    Long live BTV! :)

    • I cancelled my TiVo subscription 4 days ago ... (yeah, I know, in hindsight I should have bought the lifetime subscription).

      If you'd already paid for a lifetime subscription, then you're cancelling of it now would not have had the same impact on them.

      offered to knock the monthly down 1/2

      So, threaten to leave and get your subscriptions at 1/2 price. Hummm

  • by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:32PM (#13623412) Homepage Journal
    This should not be hard. All the hardware is present and you have a instant DVR that can do more than what Tivo did. Maybe even use a usb dvd drive to put movies on dvd and such.

    Sadly DirectTivo's probably are out of the picture for this.
  • by artifex2004 ( 766107 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:32PM (#13623417) Journal
    and later the company takes away some of that capability, do you have some legal basis for claiming false advertising, or reneging on contract, or something like that?

    I think this would be more of a question for people who paid for a lifetime subscription, but it also throws into the question the value of any future lifetime subscriptions, because if their contract allows them to start adding restrictions after the fact, is it really of much value?

    Perhaps a similar question could have been first pursued back when the company started venturing into adding advertising into the skip features, etc., as well.
    • In the UK, the Trade Descriptions Act means that, if you bought it within a year of them changing the terms, you can return it for a full refund. According to this act, a device must be `suitable for the purpose for which sold,' so if you state at purchase time that you want / need a particular feature, or the advertising states that it possesses it, and it turns out that it doesn't, you are eligible for a refund.
    • With Tivo's basic business model, you buy the Tivo as a way to connect to the Tivo service, and then pay a monthly fee to use that service. Under this model, what Tivo is doing is probaply okay in the same way that a cell phone company would be within the rights to change the terms of the service for peope who pay month-to-month or who have prepaid wireless.

      On the other hand, I have a lifetime subscription for my Tivo. My understanding of the arrangement is that I paid a flat fee for a certain type of servi
  • Most people I know who have one swear by their TiVos. I'm probably the rare Slashdotter that doesn't have one yet, but my reasons are very simple: I hate TV and the vast majority of the content available. I have a few shows that routinely take up my time, and they're on at shitty hours (damn you, [adult swim]!), but I can't justify buying a TiVo just to watch 3 or 4 shows in the middle of the afternoon rather than 1:00 AM.

    I'm wondering if most people don't feel the same way, considering the response to t

    • by hexix ( 9514 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @04:11PM (#13624319) Homepage
      Probably not. You need to realize that this is Slashdot where everyone, and myself included, bitch and moan about every event. A lot of people are threatening to get rid of their Tivos and invest 500 bucks, an entire week, and 1/4 of their living room to setup a MythTV box. These people are likely just using empty threats hoping to scare Tivo in to reversing the software update. Most likely, Tivo won't back off, and in a month all of this will be forgotten as long as the flag doesn't come up on regular tv shows for any other people.

      We've gone through this process with Tivo users before. The TivoToGo release took too long so there were claims of canceling their service and going to MythTV. Mac users still can't download shows from their tivo and watch them on their mac without going through a PC first, as far as I know. And through it all, the people who bitched and moaned are most likely still using Tivo.

      I own a Tivo. I use a mac. I hate DRM. I constantly think about how I should build a MythTV box, which shouldn't be too hard for me since I have a lot of linux experience. But I get home from work, plop on the couch, and tun on my TV to see if any good shows are waiting for me on the Tivo. There needs to be a serious and obvious interruption to my Tivo service to get me off my lazy ass so that I switch to something else.

      But as far as IPTV and the such, I think podcasts might do a lot to get people moving in that direction. If you don't believe me, download iTunes (or figure out how to use some other podcast software) and subscribe to Diggnation, Systm, Rocketboom, Dawn and Drew show, and This Week in Tech. People are really starting to make some cool stuff that is totally independent and free of DRM nastiness. The content is surprisingly good. The only real problems are wading through the thousands of crappy podcasts so that you can find the rare good one, and the bandwidth needs of podcasters who get popular. But podcasts have really shown people that anyone can make a show, and some of them might even be good. So now there should be a lot of creative thinkers figuring out how to make it easier to find shows and for shows to handle the bandwidth needs. Of course there will also be a lot of creative thinkers figuring out how they can DRM podcasts in hopes of making money.... sigh.
  • Any way yet to load your own software into TiVo while maintaining their subscription service? Seems to me that I recall hearing a few months ago that TiVo was supposed to be opening itself up to 3rd party add-ins. There must be an API set somewhere.
  • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @02:34PM (#13623437)
    I agree with the first post: DRM is the issue, not specifically TIVO.

    I remember when I got my first real computer, an Apple //e (I had a TRS-80 Color Computer before that, but I'm talking about my first usable computer). IIRC, games were $20-$30 a piece. Applewriter //e was $200. Programs were using heavy copy protection. I remember reading a lot of articles about it, and one point was that any disk that could be copy-protected could be broken. Even when IBM became bigger than Apple, for a while copy protection was big. I remember going in and using Don Lancaster's disassembly of Applewriter //e to figure out how to make my own copies of Applewriter //e so I could start modifying it on my own (and leave my precious, licensed copy safe and untouched). I stayed with Apple for a good while because it was fun, because I knew the monitor ROM closely, and because I could not afford to upgrade. Then I got a good deal on an Amiga. By the time I got back into the "mainline" again, Windows 95 was big.

    At that point almost no programs had copy protection. It had gone out of style because it cost more to keep ahead of the crackers than to just put it out and make what you could on honest customers. I remember in the material I read by Apple crackers, they pointed out that any disk the computer could run, copy protected or not, HAD to be able to be read by the boot loader, so at least the first sector had to be easily readable. From there on, a good cracker could figure it out one way or the other, as long as he took the time.

    We know that any form of DRM is breakable, not just through brute force, but by reverse engineering. Yes, there's the DMCA, but tha is not going to stop cracking programs from being easily found, just as pirated software was easy to find in the days of Apple //e and programs like Locksmith were all over the place -- usually as a pirated copy in the basement of a teen uber-geek who had hundreds of copied 5 1/4" disks.

    This is just a new market. Software publishers have gotten used to knowing there are unauthorized copies of their work, in perfect digital form, being traded among the public. This same idea scares the life out of RIAA and MPAA, but eventually they'll realize that it costs more, in the long run, to keep everything protected than to just release it as is and make what you can from the millions of honest customers. They've already started to change their positions on this. When Napster came out, there was no way they wanted ANY online distribution. ITunes changed that. The studio making the Harry Potter movies announced in a press release that large batches of Harry Potter III were released without any copy protection to see how it went, since protection was so expensive to incorporate and license.

    It'll take a long while, especially with Microsoft doing the Harold Hill routine (from "The Music Man") where they say, "Hey, all these people will still your stuff. You've got trouble, right here in River City," and, at the same time saying, "But I'll tell you how to fight that trouble. Just pay us tons of money and we'll make sure you don't lose tons of money. We'll protect it all!" Eventually, though, the added expense and work needed for protection and the paranoia of the MPAA and RIAA will start fading and we'll see something much more reasonable, just like we did in the evolution of software marketing.

    Add to that the growth of FOSS and people with guts, like the gov. in Mass., who are beginning to see the value in open formats and software that doesn't cost a ton of money, and eventually, after all the fears are shown groundless, we'll see the entire data and content market become commodity markets, just like the expensive long distance and cell phone markets have become.
    • We know that any form of DRM is breakable, not just through brute force, but by reverse engineering.

      Not quite. You can't easily break a hardware protection scheme unless you are willing to spend millions of dollars on hacking the hardware. If you use strong encryption that is well-implemented and uses hardware, it will not be possible to crack. Nobody has yet cracked DirecTV encryption, for instance. The new initiatives like TCPA should make DRM extremely secure.
    • I agree with the first post: DRM is the issue, not specifically TIVO.

      Then you should have posted your comments under that post. That is proper Slashdot Etiquette.

    • Even when IBM became bigger than Apple when exactly was that point reached? IBM has ALWAYS (imho) been bigger

      the difference between software duplication/use is that software requires SUPPORT- (which is the premise behind FOSS- support is where the corporate profit comes from) video and audio tracks do not-

      if I copy microsoft office, I get no support.

      I bought my damn copy, and I've needed to use support.
      if I copy a movie, I don't need support- it's not a great parallel..
  • I watch programs on Tivo because I don't want to watch on someone else's schedule.

    *casters, I'll stop watching your shows if you flag them so I can't record them.
    • Evil TIVO Guy: There's nothing to worry about. Nothing at all.

      Frightened Consumer: But does this mean I won't be able to record bad soft porn on the Playboy Channel?

      Evil TIVO Guy: There's nothing to worry about. Nothing at all.

      Frightened Consumer: The whole reason I pay you guys a subscription is so that I can record stuff off the TV. Now I see this thing flashing on my screen. I'm frightened.

      Evil TIVO Guy: Merely a technical glitch. There's nothing to worry about. Nothing at all.

      Frightened Consumer:
  • If noise can trip the Broadcast Flag, how about a box between the signal and the TiVo to "Clean Up The Signal"?

    Step 1 is knowing where in the signal the BF is.

    • Re:Filter that BF (Score:3, Informative)

      by LordKronos ( 470910 )
      As I understand it, this flag is part of the new macrovision system. Macrovision is done using the extra non visible part of the signal (where the closed captioning is...extra scan lines at the end of each frame). There have been tools out there for years that strip out this extra data from the signal (just saw one at CompUSA for $80).
  • If they do this, I can convince my wife to let me pick up the items to make my own Myth TV device - I have the spare machine, just need the capture card.

    Since I picked up the Tivo for her, she's fallen in love with it (always the first step). Now, if they get annoying, I have an excuse for more hardware in my house.
  • "This is like cell-phone jammers. What if you couldn't talk on your cell phone? "

    Then I would actually go to the movie theatre instead of waiting for the DVD. The inability to watch a movie in peace and quiet is the primary factor in dissuading me from going to the local multiplex. Still waiting for the management of said multiplexes to wake up to this fact.

    The ban on cellphone jammers in the U.S. needs to be lifted ASAP.
  • Almost makes you want to go back to using VCRs and tapes since you won't have to deal with this stuff there....
  • Who would have won if TiVo had simply said "No" to Macrovision's new terms. If they said, We'll risk losing people who can't watch your DRM content, but you'll lose millions of viewers and be hated by all of them.

    Who would have won?

  • Misspelling (Score:5, Funny)

    by SheeEttin ( 899897 ) <> on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:04PM (#13623726) Homepage
    We've touched on this topic in the past.

    They misspelled "dupe".
  • by gorbachev ( 512743 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:04PM (#13623733) Homepage
    "If customers can't do something with their TiVo that they could in the past, they will stop using it."

    Wouldn't that be a great day for the content owners.

    Nobody skipping ads any more, nobody storing broadcast shows into digital format ready to be whisked away to other devices at the user's whim, etc. Heavens, the users might actually be persuaded to license the right to record a show in some not too distant future! Let's do it!
  • DIY (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tktk ( 540564 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:07PM (#13623758)
    I know people are going to mention MythTV and other DIY solutions. But I was wondering, is there a project out to completely hack a Tivo into running MythTV? That way, if the worse case happens, Tivo owners with computer skills can just migrate to other software while still using the Tivo hardware.
  • The answer is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bullfish ( 858648 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @04:11PM (#13624322)
    The answer to the question asked is: (paraphrase) If you lost functionality on a device would you stop using it? The answer is: Of course. Why would you not? I especially would not buy the product. The same goes for expiring DVD's and CD's, drm radio etc

    These techniques will not lead to more sales. I would bet money on that.
  • by Brass Cannon ( 882254 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @04:23PM (#13624428)
    I use a MythTV box that a friend programmed for me. I love it but it is essentially a black box to me (literally) because I am not a programmer.

    I am trying to resolve what seems like a contradiction.

    1 - open source software is constantly (on Slashdot) said to be the way to go.

    2 - TiVo has an interface that appears to be an order of magnitude better than Myth

    This seems like a contradiction in my mind.

    If Myth is open source and so many people are improving it and making feature additions then how come the average fairly intelligent person (I am an engineer) can't, with a minimum of fuss, install the software, have it find the installed hardware and configure itself accordingly?

    Myth is great because it's independent & free of restrictions. It does not seem up to par on some things you would expect to do easily (watch a DVD, Archive to DVD, program on screen, for which I use the mythweb function almost exclusively). This is my first experience with open source and it seems like it's not yet ready for prime time.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter