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FCC awards small win to TiVo sharers, MPAA slips safety catch

Let slip the dogs of law...

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided Wednesday that small clusters of TiVo subscribers may exchange content files over the Internet without causing the total collapse of the entertainment pigopoly, Reuters reports.

According to the wire service, the FCC has certified a proposed DRM scheme for TiVoToGo, which currently is vaporware, but if launched, would enable one user to send broadcast digital TV to a maximum of nine peers registered on the same account, regardless of their location.

If implemented, this would allow subscribers to play content on more than one device in their home, to take it on the road via a laptop, and possibly to share it with a few friends and family members remotely.

The FCC determined that TiVo's proposed DRM scheme is adequate to prevent large-scale Internet piracy.

The Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) and the National Football League (NFL) begged to differ. They are expected to fight the FCC decision. The MPAA is not persuaded that TiVoToGo can perpetuate its total, iron-fisted control over every pixel of Hollywood content, and the NFL is concerned that sport contests might be sent via the Internet to regions that it has blacked out for broadcast.

"TiVo has always tried to maintain an appropriate balance between consumer interests and the rights of content providers," TiVo CEO Mike Ramsay insisted.

However, since TiVoToGo has not yet materialized, it is difficult to predict what features will ultimately be involved; and the threat of lawsuits from such well-heeled organizations as the MPAA and NFL may well influence how functional it will turn out to be, if and when it is finally launched. ®

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