Five top media companies announced last week that they have
formed the Advanced Television Copyright Coalition in an effort to protect their content
from unfair use by new media technologies -- especially the new personal-television
services from TiVo Inc. and Replay Networks Inc.
Coalition members Time Warner Inc., Discovery
Communications Inc., The Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and CBS Corp. said they want to
promote public-policy issues that support the growth of personal-television services --
some of which the media giants have invested in -- while protecting their rights as
New personal-television services are designed to store
broadcast- and cable-television programming on digital hard drives for later access by
In addition, they allow viewers to pause and replay live
television broadcasts. In some cases, the services replace televised ads with ads of their
own, charge monthly subscription fees and offer the ability to search for and store
content by category of interest as designated by viewers.
"If you're making a business out of reprocessing
and redelivering our product, you must do it with our permission," said Bert Carp,
attorney for the coalition. "Our focus here is on people who want to make a business,
not what consumers are doing in the home."
Carp added that coalition members are perfectly prepared to
negotiate copyright permission with the new media companies.
"I don't blame them for trying," Forrester
Research Inc. director of consumer-technology research Joe Butt said of the coalition,
"but you're into a real rat's nest when you try to separate this issue from
Today, consumers can tape television programming for their
own private viewing at home. "This looks like a line in the sand," Butt said.
"The media companies are saying, 'We've been screwed before, so let's
take a stand now.'"
Butt suggested that the copyright coalition is a valid
business move that may help the programmers to gain a better negotiation stance, but he
doubted that it has a legal leg to stand on.
TiVo declined to comment on the coalition, a spokesman
CBS spokesman Gil Schwartz said it was "an effort of
principle" that new media companies should follow the same copyright policies in
place for existing media. Schwartz declined to characterize the nature of talks with new
media technology companies over copyright issues.