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Faith-Based DVRs? Maybe, If Congress Has Its Way Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 December 2004
In a recent article by Eric Hellweg in Technology Review, the topic of new legislation is in front of the current U.S. “lame duck” Congress, addressing a number of piracy and media issues that relate to how audio/video enthusiasts record and use TV. According to the article, there are a handful of bills being considered right now that aim to make recording a movie in a theater and/or distributing it via peer-to-peer networks a felony. Since most reasonable home theater enthusiasts are willing to buy a DVD of a film through legal means, this might not be a landmark piece of legislation. However, there are other bills that go much further, including one that makes it illegal to fast-forward through parts of films or even to fast-forward through commercials on your TiVo or other DVR systems. In October 2004, Arizona Senator John McCain publicly voiced his opposition to this legislation and specifically mentioned the anti-commercial skipping feature: "Americans have been recording TV shows and fast-forwarding through commercials for 30 years," he said. "Do we really expect to throw people in jail in 2004 for behavior they've been engaged in for more than a quarter-century?"

Predictably, the RIAA and MPAA are in favor of many of these anti-piracy laws. Consumer groups and technology lobbyists stand on the other side of the battlefield, ready to go to the mat over your right to skip commercials.

AV enthusiasts who value their right to control the content on their home theater systems as they see fit are contacting their Congressional representatives, no matter if they live in “blue states” or “red states.” Some are worried that the same evangelical, right-wing groups that powered President Bush to a narrow victory in the recent election have plans to get their far-from-the-mainstream values injected into our music, movie and media directly by Congress. The FCC, under Michael Powell, has already started the movement with huge fines against Viacom, Clear Channel and others. However, Americans may have much more to fear, as Congress is looking at ways to get right into your DVR sitting harmlessly on top of your big screen.

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