TiVo is getting some press attention today for expanding the ability of their TiVoToGo offering so people will be able to move TiVo shows to things like the video iPod or the PSP. Of course, what the Associated Press article on this makes clear is that there was a tradeoff by TiVo to get this done: more stringent copy protection technology. TiVo has admitted in the past that it had to do some horse trading with the entertainment industry to even allow TiVoToGo to exist -- but all that really created was a seriously crippled service that wasn't too interesting for most users, especially when they knew they could get unencumbered TV shows elsewhere. That's even more true today, and with people more distrustful than ever of copy protection, why would people want to buy into this offering? Companies need to realize that copy protection isn't a "trade off." It's a limitation. It's taking away the ability to do what users want with content, thereby making it less valuable to them. The TV industry has a huge opportunity to embrace more open file sharing of television shows in a way that benefits them. They can release shows in open formats with commercials, and encourage file sharing. They get more viewers and more loyal viewers -- and that can be used to sell more ads. Instead, they force the content to be locked down so tightly that no one even bothers with the official offerings.
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