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TiVo Wins Permanent Injunction Against EchoStar 437

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the tuning-out dept.
ZenFodderBoy writes "It's official! Judge Folsom entered his ruling today granting TiVo nearly $90 million in damages, plus granting a permanent injunction calling for the disabling of nearly all of EchoStar's DVRs within the next 30 days. EchoStar's motion to stay the injunction pending appeal was denied. Additionally, the judge reserves the right to grant additional damages in the future, so treble damages may still be coming. Excellent news for TiVo!"
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TiVo Wins Permanent Injunction Against EchoStar

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  • Stock? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ekool (25857) on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:25AM (#15932844) Homepage
    What is this going to do to Tivo stock I wonder? ;)
    • Re:Stock? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ZephyrXero (750822) <zephyrxero.yahoo@com> on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:55AM (#15932921) Homepage Journal
      I'm more concerned about what this means for projects like MythTV...
      • Re:Stock? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KokorHekkus (986906) on Friday August 18, 2006 @04:08AM (#15932949)
        I'm more concerned about what this means for projects like MythTV...
        If MythTV or some other project gets targeted by stuff like this there will always be ways around it. Modularize the system enough to have the major apps hosted in the US (where the problem is). Host rest of prohibited modules where the rest of the world can enjoy them... different game, same tactics as the brightly conceived crypto export regulations

        Of course this would be a setback for the projects but it wouldn't be enough to kill them.
        • Yes, but it could cause a few distros not to even officially support it anymore. I could easily see Ubuntu dropping it b/c of this...

          Plus it's really gonna screw over guys like this [engadget.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:27AM (#15932848)
    "Excellent news for TiVo!" Bad news for consumers.
    • by ImTheDarkcyde (759406) <ImTheDarkcyde@hotmail.com> on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:42AM (#15932889) Journal
      definately, do you have any idea i spent on that DVR?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gregg M (2076)
      "Excellent news for TiVo!" Bad news for consumers.

      Actually I think this is good news for everyone. I have a Dish 625 PVR and I love it. I've always heard how great Tivo was. It's great not just because of the superiority of hard drive recording but it was great because of the Tivo software. The Dish PVRs aren't that bad but I have a feeling that Dish Tivos would be fantastic.

      The great thing about the Dish PVRs is they record the mpeg2 stream. They don't have to lose quality in the conversion of analo

      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday August 18, 2006 @08:31AM (#15933730) Homepage Journal

        Well, you may think it's great news that your 625 will be disabled within a month, I, personally, am not looking forward to it.

        In all honesty, the DVR feature is the only thing that's made TV service usable as far as I'm concerned. Barely anything we watch is live, and pretty much everything we record is recorded at times we're not around. Speculation that "EchoStar might buy TiVo" strikes me as premature, and doesn't exactly help during the period our bought and paid for hardware ceases to support advertised critical functionality.

        And, personally, I'm having difficulty accepting anything that's in the 625 should be patentable. Once you've thinking in terms of a device that automatically stores programs selected from a TV schedule, pretty much everything else the 625 does follows. But whether it is or it isn't, I'm pissed about the consequences of this. Choices have just been limited. People who have bought service and signed into 18 month contracts are being screwed. Whether it's EchoStar or a combination of TiVo and the current patent system that's to blame, this isn't fair, and we are all worse off for it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by HTH NE1 (675604)
        The great thing about the Dish PVRs is they record the mpeg2 stream. They don't have to lose quality in the conversion of analog to digital.

        Assuming of course you are happy with the amount of compression the digital satellite company places on the stream. I know I looked at getting a DirecTiVo box which also recorded the digital stream. They made the mistake of showing Boomerang on the floor display: jaggy artifacts all along every high-contrast line in the animation. Apparently someone thought they cou
    • by jkrise (535370) on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:21AM (#15933456) Journal
      Why is it that the customer has to suffer? A while ago, when Microsoft lost a patent dispute, they urged customers to apply a Service Pack for Office, and stop using the version that got shipped on purchase!

      What fault is it of the customer, if the vendor from who he purchsaed some product / service is found guilty of patent abuse? If Echostar has abused TiVo's patents and sold a few millions of their products... I think a more equitable judgement ought to be along the lines... like, Echostar to pay TiVo the requisite license money so that existing customers may continue to use their products and services uninterrupted.

      A patent should not imply that one single company has exclusive rights to implement, sell and support products based out of the said patent. The true purpose of patents is in fact, to spur innovation... not to build monopolies. Echostar might be directed NOT TO sell future products in violation of patents... it appears UNJUST that existing customers suffer a loss of functionality because of this. What if a patent violation happened in a medicinal drug? Patients must vomit already ingested medicines and die?
      • by Eric S. Smith (162) on Friday August 18, 2006 @08:35AM (#15933752) Homepage
        A patent should not imply that one single company has exclusive rights to implement, sell and support products based out of the said patent.

        Patents don't imply that, they are that. But I agree that you're quite right about the injustice of the injunction, and about the most obvious way of settling the matter without injuring third parties.

        In the software realm, if, to pick an example close to the hearts of many in the legal profession, WordPerfect were suddenly found to have violated a patent, would it be appropriate to disable all copies of WordPerfect and force users to purchase another product, just so that they could read from and write to their existing files? And how could such users determine that the product they'd been forced to buy wouldn't in turn have a self-destruct injunction filed against it next month?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by udecker (251844)
        The true purpose of patents is in fact, to spur innovation... not to build monopolies.

        Actually, a monopoly spurs innovation by doing exactly that - granting a temporary monopoly on the patented idea. This is what encourages individuals and companies to invest the time and manpower to create something new: they get to reap ALL of the benefit for a period of time until the idea becomes part of the public domain. This is how it is supposed to work.

        I do agree, however, that EchoStar should've been forced to p
      • by acklenx (646834) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:28AM (#15934023) Homepage
        The true purpose of patents is in fact, to spur innovation... not to build monopolies.
        While true that the purpose is innovation, they very single and solitary way that patents foster such innovation is through [time] limited monopolies on that specific innovation. And I have no problem with that as long as what you've been awarded patent is worthy (truly novel and new).
        I think a more equitable judgement ought to be along the lines... like, Echostar to pay TiVo the requisite license money...
        This can still happen. And it's very likely to happen as well, but under the free market principal of "Tivo owns the rights and can set their price, others including Echostar can pay that price if they think it's worth it. If Echostar doesn't agree to that price, so be it... unless Tivo decides that it would rather lower the price to keep from losing easy money...". This, I believe, is the way the system was designed to work. (I just don't know that Tivo should have the patent in the first place).
        What if a patent violation happened in a medicinal drug? Patients must vomit already ingested medicines and die?
        No, and you don't have to unwatch any shows that you watched delayed either. You just can't continue to do so (no more refills on you Rx).
      • by aeryn_sunn (243533) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:44AM (#15934139)
        Actually, the judgment is not so stupid but has a valid point. Echostar lost the trial and Tivo was awarded damages (we know this)... Echostar does not want to pay, for obvious reasons, and thinks it can either get the verdict overturned on appeal or perhaps get the patents invalidated, but in the meantime Echostar would like to still engage in patent infringement (remember, the jury found that Echostar was guilty)... As Patent law permits, Tivo filed an injuction to stop Echostar's patent infringement,which was reasonably granted... reasonably because Echostar could not convince the court to allow them to continue to infringe the patent while awaiting appeal, which could take years...

        The injunction gives bite to the verdict... now Echostar has to either pay up what the verdict says...or work on a settlement agreement... of course, it still can and will appeal, but in the meantime, it cannot continue to infringe Tivo's patent... else, without an injuction option, a guilty verdict in any patent infringement trial would be meaningless if the infringer could continue to well, infringe...

        neither the medicinal drug nor another poster's Wordperfect scenarios are pertinent analogies... medicine already ingested is obviously not the same as a service provided by a company... the drug company has no more rights in the sold drugs... if anything, an injunction would prohibit such an infringer from producing and selling any more drugs, but of course, whether a court would order an injunction against a drug company producing a drug, a court would consider other factors in that type of scenario, such as whether the drug is taken for life/health threatening reasons (a cancer drug vs. an erection drug)...and whether there are alternative sources for similar drugs (the actual patent holder produces the drug)...

        remember, Echostar's dvr is a service...the customer does not own the dvr software, Echostar does... so the injuction prevents them from continuing their patent infringing service... customers may suffer (although, what do they really suffer? nothing life/health threatening, unless missing Laguna Beach or another retarded episode of The Hills would create mind crushing depression leading to a surge of bulemia among silly girls), but that is Echostar's fault, not Tivo's...

        So, the judgment is not stupid...its a tool to enforce the verdict and stop a convicted infringer from continuing their illegal activity
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SonicBurst (546373)
          remember, Echostar's dvr is a service...the customer does not own the dvr software, Echostar does

          This is not true in a lot of cases. I for one own my echostar dvr and don't pay a monthly service fee for it. Also, most people (unless they got the dvr for free at initial order time) paid for the hardware as well, even if they do pay a monthly service fee. Seems to me that Echostar could just drop the monthly dvr service fee and they would be in compliance, provided they didn't ship any more dvr units. Tha
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by corbettw (214229)
        As someone else pointed out, patents are exactly the opposite of what you seem to think they are. In fact, when patents were debated in the late 18th century, they were referred to as "monopolies" more than "patents". So, yes, patents do grant monopolies, that is their sole purpose and function.

        As for the consumers, their best recourse is to sue the company that made the product they bought that has been found to violate patents to get their money back if the product doesn't work anymore. A class action law
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by intrico (100334)
      Being an "editorial factory" is the whole point of this discussion-based site. The whole point is to discuss and opinionate on the articles, not just restate them objectively. If discussion and opinionating wasn't the point, they would probably just link to the articles and not provide any opportunity to post replies.
    • by raitchison (734047) <robert@aitchison.org> on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:16AM (#15934822) Homepage Journal

      Eh, I'm a happy customer of both Dish Network and TiVo and definitely think this is a good thing, including for consumers and even Dish Network customers.

      I chose to pair a SA (Stand Alone) TiVo over a DishPVR for a multitude of reasons:

      1. Portability, I don't have to toss it in the trash if I switch providers
      2. Heard lots and lots of horror stories about the reliability and stablity of the DishPVRs
      3. Better features in a TiVo

      Of course I lose out too, most notably with occasional channel change mishaps that cause the wrong channel to be recorded as well as the lack of ability to record the digital stream right off the satellite.

      Now I have two TiVos

      I've been following this case for a while, TiVo pproached Echostar seeking to license TiVo's technology. They even left a demo unit with them (which Echostar "lost"), then Echostar amazingly came out with new DishPVRs that were cheap knockoffs of the TiVo.

      If there was ever a case of blatant patent infiringement this is it, umlike the NTP/RIM debacle where a patent troll was exploiting an obviously BS patent where they didn't even make a product, in this case Echostar ripped off TiVos technology in order to compete with them.

      We mustn't confuse patent reform with patent abolition, though obviously some people (certianly some /. users) believe patents should be abolished. If every company that came up with an idea could get is usurped by someone else it would only be the evil megacorps of the world that could succeed, the little guys would get destoyed before they could get a foothold in the market.

  • Thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:32AM (#15932863)
    Thanks for posting some links to the background of this story and for the detailed introduction and background that you added to your entry and for not just linking to another blog entry elsewhere on the...

    Oh wait.
    • by updatelee (244571)
      slashdot doesnt write news, they just link to other people writing the news.

      every day I read topics on slashdot that I heard earlier that day on cbc, or npr, or the bbc.

      slashdot used to be a great site for the latest and greatest breaking news, not its just reruns for everyone else.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by uvajed_ekil (914487)
        I understand what you are saying: yes, most /. content essentially amounts to links to outside information. But here we have a very nice collection of news that matters to us (or me, at least). Last time I checked (er, I'm just guessing), /. doesn't have a staff of paid investigative reporters who travel the world, so why would you expect more than a bunch of carefully selected links? The significant commentary and expansions come in the comments after something is posted, when we can all contribute.

        This

    • by Duncan3 (10537)
      Wait, you actually still think they are trying...

      What finally did it? The dupes? The cut&paste? The complete misreprentation of nearly every news item? That they link to a page with 50 ads that cut&paste the news release instead of the news release?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:41AM (#15932888)
    He who lives by the submarine patent claim dies by the submarine patent claim...

    Tivo's time will come.
    • by Secrity (742221) on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:21AM (#15933454)
      The Barton time warp patent is not a submarine patent. Tivo did not hide the existance of the patent and Tivo claims that they informed Echostar of the pending patents when they first pitched the Tivo to Echostar. It appears to me that Echostar stole Tivo's idea when they showed the prototype Tivo to Echostar. Whether this judgement and Tivo's patents can stand the test of time is an unknown right now. Tivo's most important patents are for the ability to simultaneously record and play back a video stream and for not using the CPU to do the encoding / decoding. Tivo had operating prototypes at the time that they applied for the patent. Although it doesn't really matter because software patents are enforceable in the US, it appears that these Tivo patents are not purely software related, nor are they simply abstract ideas; they involved the use of specialized hardware. I am not sure whether these technologies were obvious or novel at the time that the patent was applied for.
      • by blakestah (91866) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:28AM (#15933486) Homepage
        The patents were neither obvious or easy at the time of the patent application. Hardware was so slow back then that video encoding and playback from hard drives were difficult. Today, everything is 10 times faster, so it is easy to think of it as trivial. But you need to think of it in terms of what was available in 1997.

        That brings up somewhat obvious questions about the applicability and utility of our patent system. TiVO patented something in 1997 that was novel and non-obvious. However, it would have been both obvious and easy 5 years later. So, they get 17 years of monopoly for being ahead of their time.

        I dig it though, I have friends who work there, and they could use the money...
        • by Secrity (742221) on Friday August 18, 2006 @08:12AM (#15933640)
          The technology behind most useful patents becomes obvious and easy five years after being patented. Part of it is normal advancement of technology, much of it is because the patent system requires that the technology be disclosed to the public, and in many cases it is because products using the technology become readily available on the market. It is sort of like good magic - the trick is a mystery until somebody puts up a webpage telling how the trick is done.
  • by nighty5 (615965) on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:44AM (#15932895)
    Disabling all those PVRs is I guess one way to see justice, but in the end it seems that the customers will wear the brunt of the impact.

    There isn't much information on this finding, but I'd take a guess and say that customers that have signed up for EchoStar's service may be in for a rude shock when their PVR stops working.

    I'm up for rooting for Tivo but I guess this is business, and if Tivo couldn't find a way to sell their products to the broadcast vendors without going to litigation it makes for a difficult times.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sdnoob (917382)
      the only real winner here might just be directv, if tivo holds out and refuses to license their questionable patent to echostar. without dvr, many of their customers will switch to directv.

      i wouldn't even be surprised if directv helped fund tivo's legal battle, considering the mess echostar (directv's only american satellite competitor) is in now. their existance could very well be up in the air now.

      enough consumer backlash and negative pr and echostar will be ripe for a takeover again. we are four years re
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by schnell (163007)

        the only real winner here might just be directv, if tivo holds out and refuses to license their questionable patent to echostar. without dvr, many of their customers will switch to directv.

        Ahh, you're thinking of the old TiVo/DirecTV alliance. But beginning last year, DirecTV ditched TiVo in favor of selling its own PVRs [pvrblog.com]. DTV customers who got one of the older TiVo-based systems still get to keep theirs, but all new DTV customers get home-grown PVRs. I would think they might be next on the list of lawsuit

  • Quick ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by theboy24 (687962)
    I apologize for not being in the know, but does this mean that DirecTv's dvr service is now worthless?
    • Re:Quick ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by tonyquan (758115) on Friday August 18, 2006 @06:03AM (#15933235)
      DirecTV is actually a TiVo licensee. Up until recently, all DirecTV DVRs actually ran TiVo software. Three months ago, TiVo signed a deal with DirecTV to extend the licensing arrangement until 2009. TiVo will continue to service the ~2 million DirecTV DVRs based on TiVo software, and both parties specifically agreed not to sue each other over patents as happened with Dish Network/Echostar.

      http://www.tivo.com/cms_static/press_85.html [tivo.com]

  • by sessamoid (165542) on Friday August 18, 2006 @03:51AM (#15932912)
  • by Julius X (14690) on Friday August 18, 2006 @04:08AM (#15932947) Homepage
    Disclaimer: I work for Echostar.

      I'm just a Technical Support Representative, but I've been reading about this case long before I worked there.

    The initial ruling, I applauded. Yes, Echostar screwed up with Tivo. Yes, I think they should have to pay for that mistake, in monetary terms. Tivo earned at least that much.

    However - DVR functionality at this point is just about commonplace - Dish/Echostar's DVRs perform the same functions that Tivo, and 50 other competing products do, and to tell Echostar that it can no longer compete in this now-established market is tantamount to handing the company over to a Firing Squad.

    Nevermind the fact that there are now millions of Dish Network customers that are using DVR recievers, that will find out about this case, find that they've lost the functionality that they have been paying for every month - and place the blame squarely on - guess who? - Tivo.

    Now, I like Tivo - and I hope they succeed, and again, I'm more than happy to see them monetarily compensated for the situation. But this is not punishing Echostar/Dish - this is only punishing the consumers who have bought those devices and who use them every day, and continue to do so.

    On a personal note - this lawsuit will make my life a living hell, becuase those millions of customers will be calling me to explain why they can no longer use the functionality that they signed up for. The first time I recieve a phonecall asking why our DVR service has disappeared and why they cannot use the hard drive on the device they paid for, is the day that I turn in my resignation.
    • Wow, I am impressed that you had the guts and decency to post an article about your employers that doesn't entirely defend them without restorting to anonymity.
      I sympathise with your impending doom, because I dont reckon they will blame anyone other than the person at the end of the phone.

      Once again though I am reminded about why I use slashdot - there is always someone academically knowledgable (for the smart stuff) or with insider knowledge that can add so much to a story.
    • Echostar played fast and loose with Tivo's IP. It's great that you seem to think Tivo is owed money, but it's Echostar that decided it was worth the risk. Echostar's customers don't have Echostar DVRs because Echostar thought they could get away with something and didn't. I don't see how Tivo takes the fall for that.
      • The trial judge did not award treble damages to Tivo because Echostar sought outside counsel that, as it turned out, incorrectly told them that their DVR would not be infringing on Tivo's right. There was no "playing fast and loose" here. Echostar did exactly what any company should do, but still got burned in the process.
    • Echostar willfully infringed Tivo's patent. Doing it millions of times doesn't make it more aceptable. To the contrary. Echostar will now license (on less favorable terms) the technology from Tivo. They will do this because if they don't, their customers will sue them. So they can either go through a bankruptcy proceeding or pay their way out of a mess entirely of their own making. The consumers are at risk because Echostar placed them there. (Anyone remember when Kodak made instant film cameras?) Tough tit
    • by laird (2705) <lairdp&gmail,com> on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:13AM (#15933928) Journal
      The ruling didn't say that Echostar had to kill all of their DVR's. The ruling said that Echostar had 30 days to negotiate a licensing arrangement with TiVo. TiVo has some great leverage in the negotiations, but that's because Echostar refused to negotiate previously, preferring to play "hard ball" in court, and lost.

      This is, by the way, how basic patents work. There's no "it's popular, so you don't have to pay to license the patent" rule. For example, Motorolla has a patent on putting a heat sink on a transistor, and every other electronics company pays them for it. There's an engineer that has the patent on on-screen programmable VCR's, and he gets paid for every single VCR manufactured. The way the world works, that engineer doesn't have a monopoly on on-screen programmable VCR's, but every VCR manufacturer has to negotiate a license before they can (legally) ship their product.

      This won't affect Echostar customers, or technical support representatives, unless Echostar decides that they'd rather screw their customers than cut a deal with TiVo. At that point, resigning is a reasonable course of action.
    • However - DVR functionality at this point is just about commonplace - Dish/Echostar's DVRs perform the same functions that Tivo, and 50 other competing products do, and to tell Echostar that it can no longer compete in this now-established market is tantamount to handing the company over to a Firing Squad.

      I would agree with that argument if TiVo hadn't been attempting to resolve patent issues with Echostar for several years. E* can hardly claim ignorance on this issue. They can't now say, "Well we i

  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Friday August 18, 2006 @04:33AM (#15933010) Journal
    Here in Canada Bell ExpressVu is essentialy the Dish Network Canada. In fact, I believe that was the original name before it was changed. As such, they rely on Dishnet for all their receiver technolgy including receiver software, as I understand it. I wonder how this will affect ExpressVu customers given that I have a Dishnet 510 PVR, branded as an ExpressVu model 5900, if at all. I guess in the long run the solution is going to involve a lot of money from Dishnet changing hands to Tivo. There is no way that Dishnet will let the situation stand and perhaps they're about to get their ass handed to them much like RIM with the Blackberry.
  • by Heembo (916647) on Friday August 18, 2006 @04:35AM (#15933018) Journal
    I miss consulting for Echostar! All the managers were cowboy hat wearing good ol' boys from Colorado City. It was the most hilarious and fun group of people to ever work with! To bad our product didn't really work (to much Java way to early) but damn they paid well and let us all chew tabacee' at work! Those were the days... *sigh*
  • The Point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sahrss (565657) <sahrs&yahoo,com> on Friday August 18, 2006 @04:35AM (#15933019)
    Isn't anyone else bothered by the fact that all of these customers who BOUGHT this item, can now have it disabled remotely? That's what makes this story interesting to me. Remind me to never buy something that can be taken from me...remotely.
    • by Chaffar (670874)

      Well the correct thing to do would be to let those that have ALREADY subscribed to the service to benefit from it until it expires (or go for another 6 months-year), and just tell new potential customers that "the service has been disabled due to the sh*tty patent laws our country currently has".

      But that would be in the consumers' interest, and the right thing to do. We here at Megacorp prefer to screw people over as hard as we can before you run out of cash since HyperCorp will soon leech you of your disp

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by evilviper (135110)

      Remind me to never buy something that can be taken from me...remotely.

      I could have told you that years ago. That's the main reason I put together my own DVR about 4 years ago, rather than buying (and hacking) a Tivo or ReplayTV unit.

      It has worked out more wonderfully than I could have imagined. The 1 week of taming Linux TV-tuner modules looks so insignificant in hindsight, and is really a one-time thing, as I've set-up DVRs for others in under an hour (each).

      No messy, stupid tricks or hacks needed to get

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by modeless (978411)
      Then make sure to stop using your cable box, your cell phone, your game console connected to an online service, and your PC running Windows.

      To me the scariest of those is Windows. Microsoft has total control at a moment's notice of the large percentage of machines worldwide with automatic updates enabled, and the rest could be compromised with a trojan in a manually-installable critical update. Can you imagine the chaos if world's Windows machines erased their hard drives tomorrow? Not that Microsoft wo
      • Then make sure to stop using your cable box, your cell phone, your game console connected to an online service, and your PC running Windows.

        Of everything on your list, the only thing that I actually have is a cell phone. My game console is a Mame arcade machine. All four of my PC's run Linux. And I don't watch TV at all, and haven't for years.

        I am quite content with what I have.

        Somehow, I don't think I'm unique, especially among the Slashdot crowd...
    • That really depends what is being disabled. Any type of service provider can disable you remotely. Any utilities company (i.e. your isp or phone company) can disable your service at a key press. That is because to access the service, you have to go through them. Of course, stuff like electricity or water may require sending out a man to turn the knob, but still doesn't have to go through you.

      If anything, I think the only thing they can disable is the scheduling ability through its interactive menu (which is
  • by edward.virtually@pob (6854) on Friday August 18, 2006 @04:37AM (#15933024)
    It is a sad day for competition and software development. TiVo's patent is another example of why patents suck. Subtracting the amount of time passed in the media stream during the real time it takes someone to press the play button is obvious, and in fact also reportedly [pvrblog.com] appears in XP Media Center Edition. Obvious things are not patentable, yet TiVo has their patent and is using it to destroy competition. If I were someone who owned one of the EchoStars that will be disabled in the next 60 days, I'd be pretty pissed off.
  • by Douglas Goodall (992917) on Friday August 18, 2006 @05:08AM (#15933109) Homepage
    I paid extra for receivers with PVR/DVR capability. I pay the DVR surcharge each month for each receiver I have activated that has a DVR. I have 180HRS of recorded programs on my DVR I still want to watch. It looks to me like instead of a deal between Tivo and Dish to make things ok, the Dish customers are going to get royally screwed in this case. We paid, took our time to collect programs to watch, and they are about to be taken away unexpectedly. How about a class action suit on behalf of the Dish customers that are about to lose out? dwg
    • by Phreakiture (547094) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:24AM (#15933998) Homepage

      This would not be a first time for Dish.

      The Dish Network management knows how to use their customers as leverage. Every time there is a contract dispute between a program provider and Dish, they make sure that it is clear to the customer how to contact that program provider and pitch a bitch.

      I would be surprised if a similar tactic didn't get applied here.

  • OK, so I have a Dish PVR, so does everyone else I know, others have MythTV, never met anyone with a Tivo *shrugs* maybe becasue they cost a fortune (all going to lawyers) and doesnt come with any TV programming?

    It's the only way I'd watch any TV ever. Without that.. well, there is just never anything on when I'm around to watch it, so I'd just have to cancel the service entirely.

    So... Where is the site with the hack to make the functionality never go away?

    I give it 24 hours, 72 tops...

    -
  • TFA didn't really tell me anything about what's happening here... but, can't EchoStar legally license the technology from TiVo? I mean, if TiVo wanted them to, of course. Seems to me if I were EchoStar I would really try to do that, rather than piss off tons of customers.

    And while I do feel for those customers who are about to lose those services, what else can you do? They don't deserve to be punished, but to let them continue to use something sold to them illegally wouldn't be right either.

    Perhaps the
  • by speedlaw (878924) on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:58AM (#15933578) Homepage
    All Echostar users should go to the setup menu now and "disable automatic updates". It's a pity that updates, which used to mean improvements, can now mean less functionality. Go to your box(es) now, and disable all update check boxes !
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:23AM (#15934878) Homepage Journal

    The key point that Echostar users are about to have pounded into their heads, is that the DVR is a service, rather than a product. This is subtle enough that most users probably haven't realized -- yet (they're about to). A product can't be easily taken back (imagine Dell saying "oops, we're repoing your computer because we made a mistake"), but service can be denied.

    I don't know how Echostar's stuff is marketed/transacted, but in the case of my Tivo, I payed a lot of money up front to buy a box and a "lifetime subscription" and I haven't paid a dime since then. In day-to-day use, the device appears to be a product from my point of view, and it's easy to lose sight of the fact that I'm still calling into a server every day -- a server that is vital to ability of the device to be practical.

    It's interesting that so many things are like this. Just about everything that includes DRM, for example. I wonder how Apple iTunes Music Store customers are going to feel when the realization finally hits them that all they money they spent on music, wasn't spent buying music. It was spent buying Yes responses from an authorization server.

    My next DVR will be a MythTV box. A device that you own can't be taken from you easily. Furthermore, it primary acts in the interest of the user rather than another party. For example, I know that MythTV, unlike Tivo's software, will never go to extra trouble to show me an advertisement on the main menu. And while I can lose access to a particular server that offers TV listing information (DVRs will always need at least some sort of service provided by someone), I'll never be at any specific party's mercy.

  • by leob (154345) on Friday August 18, 2006 @12:53PM (#15935644)

Overdrawn? But I still have checks left!

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