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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for Dec. 26, 2001

Lawsuit Filed by TV Networks and Movie Studios Against Maker of Advanced DVR - SONICblue has begun shipping their advanced digital video recorder in spite of a lawsuit with which the movie studios and networks wish to undo the l984 Betamax decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that consumers could record TV programs for time-shifting purposes. The reason the new ReplayTV 4000 has incurred such wrath is that it goes beyond the original hard-drive PVR (Personal Video Recorder) idea of programming and time-shifting programs off satellite dish, cable or local antenna. The unit is connected to a cable or DSL modem with broadband capabilities, and via Ethernet to all computers in the home. This allows the user to send via the Net non-protected TV shows, as well share personal videos and digital still photos with friends and family who also own Replays - making it more than just a personal recorder. Macrovision copy protection is supported by the Replay DVR. Commercials in shows are not deleted, but may be easily skipped over during playback. SONICblue had recently won an Emmy for their advancement of television, but it appears now that they may have advanced it too much!

Proposed Bill Threatens To Build Copy Protection Into Hardware Rather Than Software - Walt Disney Company and members of the MPAA are backing a new bill in the Senate labeled the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act or SSSCA. The idea is to build digital rights management into the digital hardware and back it up with criminal penalties for what it defines as illegal use. If made law, the new bill would allow Net-connected devices to be sold only if they had SSSCA installed, which would track the behavior of users to monitor their activities in case they violated any copyrights. The exact technology has not been settled on - an industry-wide coalition has been given a year to come up with a proposal. Such digital rights management could eventually be extended from video and computers to photocopy machines, digital cameras, and even audio equipment. Here again is another attempt to overturn the Sony Betamax decision of l984, as mentioned above. Doubly ironic since Disney was the litigator in that fight against the new video recorder; the decision was against them but in the end the fantastic growth of consumer video recording proved super-profitable to the whole film industry, including Disney themselves! The text of the Senate bill can be seen at:

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