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Television Media

MPAA vs. Television 540

Today brings several articles on the MPAA's attempt to create a "broadcast flag" to kill home recording of broadcast television. Lunenburg writes "Apparently too impatient to implement the Broadcast Flag in digital media through legislative means, both Sen. Hollings and Rep. Tauzin have both sent letters to FCC Chairman Michael Powell urging him to mandate the implementation of the Broadcast Flag under FCC rules, according to the EFF's Consensus at Lawyerpoint blog." There's a CNet story about a presentation given by the MPAA to pro-business lobbying groups, and a MSNBC story about digital video recorders.
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MPAA vs. Television

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  • by wichtolosaurus ( 558778 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:39AM (#3936661) Homepage
    So the FCC won't let me be or let me be me, so let me see........
  • by fajoli ( 181454 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:41AM (#3936671)
    the MPAA will start distributing movies with only two minutes of actual story line and filling the remaining 88 minutes with explosions, noise, bad dialogue, and product placements to prevent the unauthorized distribution of its intellectual property.

  • Way to go! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by st0rmshad0w ( 412661 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:41AM (#3936678)
    As if there wasn't a fairly good chance that HDTV adoption was doomed before.

    • Unfortunately, the large majority of people will buy it, since it is just a "new TV". Also, it is extremely probable that the MPAA et. al. will quickly push for HDTV's (with their broadcast flags and encrypted signals etc.) to become the only option available to "consumers" (I hate that word!) interested in new TVs. Luckily I don't watch TV anymore, but the prospect and ideology still makes me sick to my stomach. Go read a book.


      • The problem is that TVs aren't something that people replace very often. I have three televisions in my house right now. One of them is 5 years old, and the other two are a lot older than that. I think one of them is even older than me. Just imagine the uproar that's going to happen when Granny can no longer watch Matlock. She's going to say "Spend how much on a new TV?!?" and start bitching at her congresscritters.
    • As if there wasn't a fairly good chance that HDTV adoption was doomed before.

      The funny thing is that Congress has not required all new television receivers to have DTV decoding capability. Of those "HDTV Televisions" being sold right now, most don't have a DTV decoder.

      In the 60's when the UHF TV bands came along, Congress required television makers to include UHF receivers in most all new TVs. But there has been no parallel for DTV.

      So if Congress can't even mandate DTV reception, how are they going to mandate the broadcast flag?

      (BTW, I'm not saying they should mandate DTV reception, but certainly things will be very interesting at analog turn-off in 2006 without it.)
      • Re:Way to go! (Score:3, Informative)

        by gorilla ( 36491 )
        very interesting at analog turn-off in 2006 without

        IF there is an analog turn off in 2006. By now, according to the original schedule, by now every commerical station should be dual broadcasting, and every TV sold should be DTV capable, to get 85% penetration by 2006. Current estimates say there will be 30% penetration by 2006, and I personally think those are optimistic. It took the UK from 1964 to 1985 to phase out 451 line television, and this was in an era when TV's were unreliable with short lifespans.

        In addition, the original reason for cancelling analog has gone. In the late 90's, spectrum was seen as a resource which you could sell almost without limit - Telecoms were on the up, and new uses were eating up more and more spectrum. Since then, telecoms haven't been doing so well, resulting in auctions in both the UK [] and US [] that have been disasters for the companies involved and the governments trying to sell the spectrum.

  • Ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kafka93 ( 243640 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:44AM (#3936694)
    It's just Macrovision for broadcast, basically; the MPAA notes that "legislation would be required", and that's because without it manufacturers or third parties will quickly develop means of circumventing the protection. Of course, whatever happens, there *will* be the means of recording any broadcast stream -- these people need to recognise that, if it's human-recognisable, it's machine-recordable. All that's achieved by these kind of nonsensical restictions is a) increased costs for the manufacturers, which lead to b) increased costs for the consumer, and c) a less satisfactory user experience. But that media will continue to be recorded, nobody should have any doubt.

    And besides, will anyone really stand for this? The idea of recordable media -- vcrs, in particular -- is very deeply ingrained, and most people probably consider it their "right" to record their television. And rightly so!

    It's incredible to me that so many presumably intelligent people waste so much effort on these draconian measures. Corporate greed is to blame, of course - but, with a little thought, it seems to me that many of these people could do better by *not* alienating the populace, and by finding some other, better way of making their money such that everyone could be happy. The MPAA and their kind are scared of technology that they don't really understand, and they're losing their grip on the industry. Tough luck. Legislation shouldn't be put in place which will serve big business at the expense of the consumer. Rather, big business needs to learn to evolve to the consumer's wishes, or it needs to die.
    • by Peyna ( 14792 )
      The idea of recordable media -- vcrs, in particular -- is very deeply ingrained, and most people probably consider it their "right" to record their television.

      I could see many big vcr / tape companies as well as Tivo and everyone else standing up against this bill. They stand to lose a lot of money otherwise. The MPAA needs to be more careful about whose shoes they step on, or they might end up stepping on someone with real big feet and steeled toe boots.
      • Re:Ugh (Score:2, Insightful)

        by aronc ( 258501 )
        I could see many big vcr / tape companies as well as Tivo and everyone else standing up against this bill. They stand to lose a lot of money otherwise.

        Which is exactly why they are [b]not[/b] trying to push a bill through. They are attempting to bypass that whole system by pressuring the FCC to make it regulatory. Clever. Evil, but clever.

    • Re:Ugh (Score:4, Informative)

      by Masem ( 1171 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:08AM (#3936871)
      And besides, will anyone really stand for this? The idea of recordable media -- vcrs, in particular -- is very deeply ingrained, and most people probably consider it their "right" to record their television. And rightly so!

      If you read through the articles carefully, no one, not MPAA/show producers nor Tech appear to be arguing against the one-time recording (time-shifting) of digital TV programming; it's the question of whether you can save that content to removable media, watch it on another TV in your house, send it to yourself at a remote location (even if authenicated/secured), or to share it on the Internet with a single friend/family member. Some of these seem like obvious fair use, some don't, and where the line has to be drawn is what is the major contention; MPAA appears to want the push the line to limiting recordings to a single, non-retainable format, possibly viewable only once, while other groups are arguing for less restrictive measures but still limiting full-fledged wide scale distribution as today's P2P networks allow.

      • Re:Ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:33AM (#3936995) Homepage Journal
        So let me ask you what is the difference between the following scenarios:

        I wanted to see the Sunday night special episode of Good Eats in Paradise, but couldn't because I was out of the house because of a prior committment.

        • Scenario 1, I program my VCR, it records the show, I watch it later at my leisure.
        • Scenario 2, I forgot to program my VCR, I call my brother and ask him to record it for me on his VCR, so that I can watch it later at my leisure.
        • Scenario 3, my brother has a Tivo, records it and lets me download it through our mutual broadband connections.

        Why can't the industry understand the similarity and reasonableness of these cases? Beyond that, if my brother wants to share it with the rest of the internet, why is this a problem? It was a broadcast show! Anyone could have recorded it! *IF* the show is available for sale on DVD/Video *THEN* it would be a clear violation of the copyright holder's rights over distribution to still be sharing the show. Aside from that, the only thing that sharing does "to" the copyright holder is allow more people to see the work. How is that bad?

        Let's try one more example: I'm a huge fan of Invader Zim, but Friday nights are a terrible time for me to stop my world to watch a TV show. So I generally try to download copies from the net and burn them to VCD (because my wife wants to watch them too, and we don't want to sit in front of the computer to do it). Unfortunately, most of the copies are really bad, but I do it anyway as a fan of the show. When and if these episodes become available on DVD, it will be my pleasure to go buy high-quality copies and discard the relevant VCDs.

        This is just like music sharing; I use it to judge what I want to buy, not to steal things I would otherwise buy. The quality of product on the internet is not as good as the quality of the product from the originator, in any case I've seen so far. If it's really good enough for me to want to buy it, I'll still want to buy it despite having "pirate" copies around.

        • Re:Ugh (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Gaijin42 ( 317411 )
          I follow you as far as 1 and 2, 3 is more iffy, since your brother still has a copy of his own.

          Would it be okay for me to record stuff to a VCR, and then copy tapes and distribute them via a catalog?

          • Re:Ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ottffssent ( 18387 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @12:57PM (#3938090)
            You're completely off-base here. This is the kind of thinking that has led to the frenzy of new laws in the past few years. If my brother records something and mails me a VHS cassette, we both get copies of a show. If he records it to vcd and mails me a CD, we both get copies of a show. If he records it and sends it over the internet, we both get copies of a show. If he watches it and telepathically broadcasts it to me, we both get copies of the show. USING THE INTERNET DOES NOT MAKE IT DIFFERENT!!!

            To respond to your other point: Yes, it should be okay for you to record stuff with a VCR and copy the tapes and distribute them via a catalog. The person who buys your VHS cassette could have recorded the show him/herself, so the effect on the original copyright holders is nil. Since they didn't, you are providing a service which you should be able to charge for.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:20AM (#3936928)
      I'm working my way through "A People's History of the United States" and find the current tactics of the RIAA and the MPAA very similar to those described throughout the book. The use of ostensibly neutral "laws" to further enhance the pocket books of monied interests.

      Prior to 1910 the law was used to protect the land owners and property owners, with numerous examples throughout the book of the courts upholding what were essentinally very unconstitutional laws favouring monied interests over blacks and poor whites (i.e. those without property) .

      With the RIAA and the MPAA we are seing similar sorts of laws proposed, only this time to protect the monied interests (those that "own" intellectual property) against those who don't.

      Why do the monied interests have the power to pass and uphold these laws? Because they control the legal systems - they are better able to afford lawyers, better able to lobby congress, better able to propogandize against those that hold alternate views.

      To me, this is all part of the tragedy of America these days.
    • by pmz ( 462998 )
      ...big business needs to learn to evolve to the consumer's wishes, or it needs to die.

      Yes, absolutely. When the legislative branch of the U.S. government begins thinking about how to artifically prop up a failing industry, that means something is so fundamentally wrong with that industry that legislation is almost always the worst solution to the problem. Whenever someone like the MPAA or RIAA begins begging for quick fixes from Congress, every single person in the House and Senate should have little alarms going off in their minds. Let's hope cynicism prevails and the media industry is sent home with a bruised ego.
    • Re:Ugh (Score:2, Informative)

      by count_dooku ( 448992 )
      And besides, will anyone really stand for this? The idea of recordable media -- vcrs, in particular -- is very deeply ingrained, and most people probably consider it their "right" to record their television. And rightly so!

      Yes, but the broadcast industry does not see it that way, and they have enough lobbying money to overturn fair use. Turner Entertainment's Jamie Kellner claims that by not watching commercials, you're stealing TV. Notice the word stealing.

      So when the broadcast industry and the motion picture industry claim they want to prevent copying (or stealing) digital content, they won't stop with the peer-to-peer file traders. They'll target time-shifting. The broadcast flags they are proposing could easily say "don't record this program." Because, after all, if you own a PVR, you'll skip over the commercials.

      Time Warner cable is debuting a set-top box with a PVR. But, there is no commercial skipping available. That's right, you can time-shift the West Wing, but you cannot hit the fast-forward button. There isn't one.

      Funny how that goes.


  • Sen Hollings (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MeNeXT ( 200840 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:46AM (#3936706)
    has forgotten who the PEOPLE are.

    • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <> on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:59AM (#3936811) Journal
      I'm afraid you are right. Senator Hollings has forgotten who people are, because he is only a refurbished automaton from the 'Pirates of the Caribbean.'

      When no one is in his office, 'he' quickly opens his chest plate and drinks some more oil. (You can see the Bush connection rather easily.)

      Senator Hollings and his rampage of bad legislation MUST be stopped. 'He' will let nothing stand in his way of his goal of Total Disneyfication of the entire world.

      'His' Achilles Heel?


      Throw pies at the Senator. That will interfere in his 'Small World Reasoning Center'. Only you can stop the madness.

  • Apparently too impatient to implement the Broadcast Flag in digital media through legislative means

    I'm glad companies no longer feel the need to respect the government, and they'd rather just pressure them into doing what they want fast. I find it amazing what people will do (government) when they don't understand things (technology), they just assume people like the FCC are right.
  • I don't get it.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tacokill ( 531275 )
    How, exactly, is a PVR any different from a VCR?

    Ok, lets say we give in to the removal of the ad-skipping feature. Now -- how is it different?

    • by phunhippy ( 86447 ) <> on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:49AM (#3936734) Journal
      How, exactly, is a PVR any different from a VCR?

      the PV and VC... the R is the same :)

    • by TGK ( 262438 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:53AM (#3936771) Homepage Journal
      A PVR records digitaly onto a hard drive. With a little work and way to much spare time you can modify one of these things such that this file can be coppied, burned to CD, distributed over P2P network etc.

      VCRs record (I think) in analog on a magnetic tape. Thus, repeated duplication always results in inferior quality. Furthermore, repeated viewing also results in inferior quality.

      The result is that any video stream recorded from a VCR has a finite shelf life (long, but finite). Where as anything recorded with a PVR could (hypotheticly) have an infinite shelf life (ok, remaining life of the Earth) and no real limit on the number of copies possible.
  • Inticing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by prof187 ( 235849 )
    Whenever someone comes out with new technology to prevent piracy, all it does is spur interest in trying to get by it. For instance, the "protected CDs" that could be gotten around with a marker. If they are serious about it, they need to implement the technology without letting the world know first, that way there will at least be a slow down before people realize it and get around it. It's always just a matter of time.
    • It would be very difficult to not let the world know first.
      1: You have to tell people that the system isn't standards complient or that a new version of the standard has comeout.
      2: Competition rules would require that information be freely available to manufacturers(but possibly cost something to implement)
      3: Somebody's going to leak the information anyhows.
  • by Capt_Troy ( 60831 ) <tfandango AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:49AM (#3936733) Homepage Journal
    At what point in time will the government and big business understand that watermarks and "broadcast flags" will not work? I can't imagine the ammount of money spent on technology that will (and has) failed in persuit of curtailing piracy...

    When will they figure out that P2P file sharing networks (not to mention IRC, which apparently they are oblivious to) won't be going away? They need to play the cards life has dealt them and figure out how to use these to their advantage or provide a system that is better and more aligned with their business (selling commercials). The world is about change, did all the radio stations get angry when they invented TV? No, they all became TV stations too!

    For example, if you assume all TV brodcasts are going to be pirated. Make it easier for the people downloading these shows by providing them for free on a website and keeping the commercials in the show. If you stream them then they cannot fast forward through commercials. So you basically provide all of your content on demand with commercials (more air time for advertisers thus more expensive commercials). Personally, I'd go watch Alias streamed (if it was a good 300k stream) with commercials rather than sifting around and waiting in queues on IRC or spending days trying to get it on gnutalla. And if we are worried about modem users, they can't download pirated TV anyway, files are too large.

    Just a thought.
  • Now that Real is open-source, wanna bet that the MPAA will "embrace and extend" it with it's own anti-piracy scheme???
  • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:51AM (#3936756) Homepage
    thats it, Im through, there is nothing worth watching anyway, so good-bye boob-tube, we had some good times in the past, twilight zone, Barney Miller, MASH, I love Lucy, Hogans Heros, Bugs Bunny and Road Runner, but today it is nothing but drivel like "When batchlorettes in Alaska go bad 3" Its not worth it anymore, and this just seals the deal.
    • Don't worry, there's plenty of other things to do besides watch TV. You can...

      Watch a movie at your local cinema. Oh no, sorry, we hate the MPAA, don't we.

      Watch DVDs. Erk, same problem.

      Listen to music. Nope, that's the RIAA. Not doing very well, are we?

      Use P2P software constantly. Isn't that supposed to be terrorism?

      Write open-source software. Sigh. No, because open-source is terrorism too.

      Send e-mails and read the internet. Unless you want to be monitored constantly.

      Play games on your PC. Unless we don't like the EULA. Or it's by Blizzard.

      Read a book. Do we hate publishers at the moment? No? Whee! We've found a means of entertainment!

      Boredom - the fate awaiting all who believe in freedom ^_^


    • See? This is the problem! You've gotten to watch those shows! I'm too young too have seen most of them. I've caught them occasionally, and they're wonderful! I want to watch all of MASH! Hogan's Heroes is hilarious! I Love Lucy is classic! I've seen maybe 10 episodes each of Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents! It's infuriating.

      Even today, there are a few good shows that stand out. I want to watch them too. The Simpsons is still a good show, and West Wing is amazing. My family used to [college got in the way] sit down every Wednesday to watch West Wing together. Sometimes we couldn't watch it, as we had a play to go to (yes! REAL theatre!). If we couldn't record it, there's not exactly a way to see it, is there? Except wait until it comes on in re-reruns. And if you miss it then? Too. Fucking. Bad.

      I do have a question though. My family doesn't have one, but what are the implications for TiVO users? Are they just going to be told, "Well. You're screwed." or what? Any returns or refunds? I mean, this would be like buying a CD-RW drive and then being told it can't be used to burn CDs, only to read them. It negates a major purpose of a device. We use the DVD player if we rent movies. We only use the VCR to play back things we've recorded on it anymore. No record = no playback = no purpose. Damn them all.

      This is just as bad as the pop-up ads in TV shows article on /. a few weeks ago.

      I'm disgusted. Later all.
  • I 've got an idea! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by af_robot ( 553885 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:51AM (#3936757)
    If they'll enforce broadcast flag under FCC rules, then it will create a good opportunity to ads-free recording: you just have to reverse firmware in your recorder to store programs WITH broadcast flag...So all ads will be skipped
    hehe :)
    • by jmorse ( 90107 )
      Actually, you can do that now with the V-Chip signal. That signal is broadcast during shows so that Tipper Gore types can set their TV up to block their kids from seeing evil things like TV news and keep them focused on the healthy stuff like Marilyn Manson and Barney. The signal is not broadcast during ads.

      You can try this at home if you have a V-Chip TV. Just set it to some prudish PMRC-level setting and try to watch something. The program will be blacked out but the ads will show just fine.
  • According to the Cnet [] article, they are going straight to the FCC because congress is log-jammed and about to adjurn for break. The senate [] is off from 8/5 - 9/2 and the house [] from 7/29 - 9/3. Then they both are planning to adjurn for the year on 10/4.

    They just know they introduced their bills way too late and don't want to wait.

  • by Argyle ( 25623 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:57AM (#3936795) Homepage Journal
    "There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statue or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."

    -Robert Heinlein, Life Line, 1939

  • Fine. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NetRanger ( 5584 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @09:57AM (#3936799) Homepage
    If I cannot control the equipment I bought with my own money, then I expect the content providers to pay for everyone's televisions. I think that's damn fair.

    Otherwise they need to stay the hell out of my equipment, because it belongs to me.

  • 47 USC 336(b)(4), Hollings justification for the broadcast flag:
    The [FCC] shall ... adopt such technical and other requirements as may be necessary or appropriate to assure the quality of the signal used to provide advanced television services, and may adopt regulations that stipulate the minimum number of hours per day that such signal must be transmitted....

    I don't think any judge would believe that this provides for mandating standards to avoid copyright infringement. A change of law would be necessary if Hollings does want such a mandate.

  • The US senate has passed a ruling in which every infant born must be implanted with no memory flag which will not let it remember any digital content.

    This ruling was passed after MPAA realized that there is a signal flow between eye and brain and storing that DATA in memory is a copyright violation.

    Sounds funny eh? It isnt. It stopped being funny long time ago.

    We consumers are theives, and pirates who want to destroy the economy.

    Thats what the fine print says. Period
  • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:06AM (#3936854) Homepage
    The absolute best solution to this kind of thing has been around for decades, works perfectly, doesn't cost a cent, and causes your day to suddenly seem a couple of hours longer:

    Sell your TV.

    Try, just try, life without a television. You'd be amazed how little you miss it, and how much other stuff you'll do instead. If you have a significant other, you'll have time to actually spend with that person, instead of sitting on your arse and not looking at each other. If you don't have an SO, you'll drastically increase your chances of finding one. If you're not looking, you'll at least have time to pursue other hobbies, like coding, or cooking, or bungee jumping, or whatever the heck else trips your trigger. Just try it. You may very well love it.

    We live in a capitalist society. If you don't like what the businesses are trying to do to you, then stop using their product. What the hell does a federally-mandted broadcast flag matter to you when you don't watch TV?

    • by acceleriter ( 231439 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:11AM (#3936886)
      Next, get rid of your internet connection. It will have the effects you describe, ten-fold, for lots of people here :).
    • Why be so drastic? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mblase ( 200735 )
      I like my TV, for one reason: it lets me watch movies I rent and own. I don't like broadcast television, because it's saturated with commercials and the selection just isn't there and the quality is spotty and I have to stick to someone else's schedule (I can't afford a TiVo). Plus my wife and daughter like their soaps.

      So I keep the TV, got a good pickup antenna for network broadcasts, and refuse to pay for cable. Yeah, there are shows on Sci-Fi and Cartoon Network I wish I could catch, but when it's a big deal I ask a friend or family member to tape 'em for me. And they generally do. And if they don't, I wait until I can buy or rent the DVD and watch the whole thing without commercials (or download them off of KaZaA while I'm waiting, if it's really that important me).

      Bottom line: I'd rather spend $40/month on two DVDs I really like and want to own, than on cable television piping hours upon hours of useless junk into my household.

    • So your solution is if you enjoy something and someone comes alaong at tries to capitalize or restrict on your enjoyment, just walk away and do nothing?

      Why should anyone give up television? It's great that you're being all "holier-than-thou" about TV, but many people do enjoy it.

      If that were the case, I'm assuming you don't listen to music anymore, watch movies anymore, play video games and surf the intern--- wait a second! Obviously you feel that content control is only applicable on things you don't care for.

      This kind of action should not be ignored. Every medium that "they" restrict will just lead to more power for "them". Selling your TV doesn't solve the problem, it just gives "them" the go-ahead to do this to something else.
      • I'm not the original poster -- I was preparing to post the same advice when I found someone already had.
        My claim is that television is much more like an addiction than like something that people enjoy and appreciate. Watching television isn't living your life. At best it's setting aside your life for an hour or four every day. At worst, it's vicariously living someone else's idea of what your life should be.
        You (pi radians) think you're fighting against content control. Broadcast television television isn't uncontroled content today. The lines between "content" and "advertisement" are already blurred, and I don't just mean product placement, I mean program sponsors gaining editorial control over scripts.
        You're getting duped if you think you have the freedom to watch a show without ads. You're accepting a straw-man definition of "freedom" so you'll keep watching what they want.

        Just walk away. Wait for the withdrawl to fade, and see if you miss it or not.

        And for what it's worth, the quote generator at the bottom of the page had this to say when I viewed the parent:
        Woolsey-Swanson Rule: People would rather live with a problem they cannot solve rather than accept a solution they cannot understand.
    • And the solution to removing the power from military regimes in the Middle East is to buy a bicycle. Sorry, but that just doesn't fly. The goal is to keep the things you like, not to change your life because somebody wants some boneheaded laws.
    • Sorry, I like sitting down and just get fed some story at times. Just have a beer and don't really work my brain much, at least not more than getting into the series/movie, particularly some sci-fi or cartoon stuff (Farscape, ST: Voyager, Futurama, Simpsons lately). There's too much and too little. Having no TV is too little. If you can do without, fine. I've been without one for 5 months, and it's been more than enough. Books and music and "Real Life(tm)" is fun enough, but judicious use of TV is a good thing, not a bad one.

    • Mad Libs! (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rayonic ( 462789 )
      The absolute best solution to this kind of thing has been around for decades, works perfectly, doesn't cost a cent, and causes your day to suddenly seem a couple of hours longer:

      Sell your books.

      Try, just try, life without books. You'd be amazed how little you miss them, and how much other stuff you'll do instead. If you have a significant other, you'll have time to actually spend with that person, instead of sitting on your arse and not looking at each other. If you don't have an SO, you'll drastically increase your chances of finding one. If you're not looking, you'll at least have time to pursue other hobbies, like coding, or cooking, or bungee jumping, or whatever the heck else trips your trigger. Just try it. You may very well love it.

      We live in a capitalist society. If you don't like what the businesses are trying to do to you, then stop using their product. What the hell does federally-mandted illiteracy matter to you when you don't read books?
    • Life without TV (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Animats ( 122034 )
      I've never owned a TV. I have a VHS player and a monitor, but nothing that can receive. I rent tapes, but haven't seen much broadcast TV in many years. It just doesn't do anything for me. Too many commercials. Occasionally I watch TV when in hotels, but get bored after an hour or so and go out.

      A friend gave me a Radio Shack 1" TV, which I last used on September 11, 2001. It's in a drawer with the flashlights, extra batteries, and other emergency supplies.

    • by dswensen ( 252552 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @01:51PM (#3938526) Homepage
      Though I don't advise anyone else to sell / do without their television (in my experience, people get very defensive and personal about it very quickly, as if you're attacking a member of their family), I have been without it for a few years now, and I don't miss it a bit.

      I used to be a big-time TV junkie. I thought I couldn't live without Star Trek, Simpsons, Homicide, whatever... to the point where I would pass on social engagements to watch the shows, fly into rages when the VCR didn't record the show correctly (or it was pre-empted), etc. etc... and then I just stopped watching it and found out that yes, I could live without it, pretty easily.

      I still do have it, for occasionally watching the movies that I own, or playing some Dreamcast when friends come over, but that's about it. But in the meantime, I've caught up on my reading, the house is quieter, the nights are longer (it's true) and I actually talk to my SO during meals again. Not a bad trade.

      Oddly enough, the biggest hassle I get from not watching television is from people who can't believe I don't. I've seen reactions ranging from shock and disbelief to anger and hostility. The thing I hear most often is "Oh, so you're one of those KILL YOUR TELEVISION people?" No, I just killed mine, you can let yours live if you want.
  • This is actually going to HURT them. If I can't record the show, then I'm not going to be able to watch it if I'm not around when its on. That means I'm less likely to get hooked on the show and less likely to buy it on DVD later, or buy any of the other collectible junk sold to support the show.

    If anything, I will boycott any show which won't let you record it out of spite and I think a lot more people may as well.
  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:13AM (#3936896) Journal
    (From my blog)

    I question the appropriateness and perhaps even legality (in an abstract theoretical sense) of a member of the legislative branch of the government urging a part of the executive branch to grab power it does not seem to have, because the legislative branch has not granted it. The legislator does not work by fiat, it's his job to legislate. Should he fail in that endeavor, as Hollings has up to this point, he should not go behind the scenes and try to get the executive branch to do his bidding anyhow.

    Congress should officially reprimand Hollings for this. (Not that I expect it...)
  • "We're here to defend intellectual property," said Jim DeLong, an economist at CEI. "If you want balance, go to another session."

    Does it appear to anyone else that that is pretty much the running theme for ANYTHING the MPAA has its fingers in? Its all or nothing with them. They rail about how they are losing like crazy, yet refuse to hear anything even remotely like a compromise.

    Well, I paid a heck of a lot of money for my home theater setup.. I guess if they manage to whack my TiVO (which I would assume they are also thinking about, as its pretty easy to dump the signal out to a decent recorder) then DirectTV is gonna lose my business. And probably a lot of OTHER peoples business as well.

    This looks to me like a pre-emptive strike at the HDTV standards that are going to come out.. after all, why WOULDNT you want to record something that is twice the clarity and fidelity of even the best DVD right now? They can control DVD's to a certain extent, but they will NOT be able to control this, they know it, and they are running scared before the fact.

    (Now.. if only we could get them to program something WORTH RECORDING in HDTV.. right now, I only get HBO (same old same old) and a couple of news channels.. and interminable re-runs of ER)


  • by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:29AM (#3936973) Homepage
    because people have the right to timeshift all of the tv they watch, not just the programming the broadcasters want. There is already caselaw substantiating this [].

    The MPAA tried shenanigans like this in '00 attacking [] suceededing in shutting it down.

    If PVRs were in every house instead of VCRs, there would be no chance of this getting by, but since this wont directly impact people for several years it will be too late to complain once the new generation of flag obeying goods arrives, and everyone will probably just accept that now, you have to PAY to record TV and watch it at a later date. Or this will kill the adoption of PVRs; once people realize that you cant record whatever you want with a flag-crippled PVR.
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:29AM (#3936975) Homepage Journal
    People like Hollings for non-re-election? Perhaps we need "The Geek Lobby Page" where information about key publicly elected officials is kept.

    When is Hollings up for re-election?

    Who is running against him?

    Are the opponents views any better?

    We all grumble, complain, and flame. We also say we're too small. But have we tried yet to use tried-and-true mainstream political techniques?
  • The FCC's contact information can be found at [].

    Remember, if you call or email, to be polite and explain to them why this proposed regulation will provide NO benefit to the citizenry.
  • Oh, please... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dthoma ( 593797 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @10:32AM (#3936989) Journal
    "the MPAA's attempt to create a "broadcast flag" to kill home recording of broadcast television."

    Assuming that the MPAA does succeed in getting this "broadcast flag" established, here's a quick timeline:

    September 2002:
    'Broadcast flag' added to all copyrighted transmissions.

    October 2002:
    Hack published on 19 different websites describing how to circumvent the 'Broadcast flag'.

  • Ppl won't stand for it, in this case it's more than just a "geek thing". Almost everyone uses a VCR to record a favorite show and PVRs are just the same (only digital). If the FCC makes this happen, ppl will just find another way [] to digitally record their shows.

    The industry has set a precident over the past ~20 years with the things like the VCR and more recently (~10 years), TV Decoders for computers and it's likely to get quickly shot down. I can say that I don't actually own a PVR or contribute to the OpenPVR project, but if this comes to fruition, I think we will see a huge increase in the number of Linux PVR solutions.
  • The link given for Senator Hollings in the original story is incorrect. A quick google search produced the correct link []. Hope this helps.
  • by heydan ( 112791 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @11:23AM (#3937389) Homepage
    The advertisers are missing the point. I only skip ads I don't like and it would not benefit anyone to force me to watch those. But when I see an ad flying by that I think would interest me, I do stop to watch it (sometimes repeatedly).

    So they should focus on delivering ads to me that are relevant and that I would want to watch instead of trying to think up ways to force me to watch ads that wouldn't interested me and wouldn't lead to any purchase by me.

    How can they tell what ads I like? The best way would be to watch my clicks (which TiVo does already, but in an aggregate/anonymous way) and just learn what tends to catch my eye. I wouldn't mind giving up that so-called privacy. Or they could ask me to fill out a survey indicating what I'm interested in.

    How can they deliver ads I like? They can have the PVR use otherwise idle time in the middle of the night to record and save ads just for me that it could later insert into programs I'm watching, clobbering the generic ads which came with the broadcast that I probably wouldn't want to see.

    The advertisers should see this as a big opportunity to send me ads that would interest me, that I'd enjoy, and that could lead to my making a purchase. But sitting around trying to think of ways to force me to watch ads that don't meet any of those criteria is just dumb and counterproductive.
  • Why involve the FCC? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fjord ( 99230 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @12:08PM (#3937731) Homepage Journal
    If the MPAA owns the copyright, then why don'tthey just tell the television stations that they can't air it without the bit set? Why push in FCC regulations when you can just require it anyway?
  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Tuesday July 23, 2002 @02:00PM (#3938593) Homepage
    I would like to congratulate all of you who write eloquent replies on Slashdot, however you need to write letters to your "elected officials".

    Myself, everytime I read an article on Slashdot which makes my blood boil and pertains to privacy, civil liberties, anti-consumer electronic devices, and/or bad technology legislation, I contact my legislators via email, fax, or snail mail.

    Your elected official needs and wants to hear from you on the issues! If they get a mere 10 letters, faxes, or emails on a topic it raises a "red" flag and forces them to look at the issue before unknowing upsetting their constituency.

    I urge you to contact these people and let them know what you think on a weekly basis. America is still "Government by the people, for the People."

    While you are at it, register to vote!

    Lastly, we always hear talk about buying legislation in the form of campaign contributions. Believe it or not, it doesn't cost all that much to buy legislation and once we all get in the habit of contacting our legislative officials and voting, we can donate money to a PAC, donate to campaigns and hire lobbyists. Then the Slashdotter will truly be running with the big dogs, but political involvement has to begin small.

    Here are some helpful websites to guide you:

    U.S. House of Representatives [] U.S. Senate [] Congressional News []

    I fear if we do not act and unite soon, that we will lose control of the Internet and consumer electronics in the name of Patriotism and anti-piracy.

"You stay here, Audrey -- this is between me and the vegetable!" -- Seymour, from _Little Shop Of Horrors_