Sharing TV programmes legally - could it be a killer app?
In the ongoing battle between the MPAA and companies looking to provide digital content over the Internet, the FCC has just given approval to thirteen different systems that would allow distribution of digital television content over the Internet. Some of the companies involved are TiVo, Microsoft Corp., Sony Corp., and RealNetworks Inc. More detail is on the Reuters website.
The use of PC based PVRs which allow TV to be recorded on a PC e.g , and boxes like Sky+ and TiVo is increasing. Software like SnapStreams Beyond TV3 even allows you to stream content so you can watch TV on a laptop using Wi-Fi for example. If the digital rights management issues can be solved, for example as in this FCC ruling that you can share the content with 9 other people, then the need for faster broadband will become a lot more compelling. Sharing TV shows at 256kbps or even 400kbps using a home broadband connection would take forever, since 2Mbps is about the minimum standard for watching on a TV. In fact it would take around 8 hours to upload to a friend just 1 hour of TV recorded at 2Mbps.
The biggest hurdles to doing all of this though are likely to be legal, the movie studies and TV companies if sticking to their traditional ways of measuring audiences would prefer we watch material at the time of transmission. Peer to Peer networking obviously does allow sharing of video content currently, but the vast majority is likely to be breaking copyright laws.