Why Does TiVo Need Permission To Innovate?

from the bad-precedent... dept

A couple weeks ago, we had the story of the MPAA and the NFL trying to force TiVo to stop its plans to add new features to their devices that would let a user send a recorded program to another device. While we discussed why this was a ridiculous move by both the MPAA and the NFL, a reporter at the Washington Post is now going one step further and pointing out that the real travesty is the fact that TiVo suddenly needs to ask permission from the government to innovate. The ability of companies to continually innovate and reinvent markets based on free and open competition is what helps drive this economy. When companies need to ask permission to add innovative features, and that permission needs to go through other companies, we’re destroying our ability to innovate competitively. Instead, companies outside of this country will build new systems with features that consumers actually want, while systems here are held back by regulations that serve no other purpose than to protect an adjacent industry that refuses to change with the times. It’s the worst form of protectionism — since no one will even admit that it’s protectionism. And, like all attempts at protectionism, the end result will be much worse for those these rules supposedly protect.

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Comments on “Why Does TiVo Need Permission To Innovate?”

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Michael Martens says:

tvo innovation

Tvo’s innovation is not a product, it is process. The right to broadcast or copy NFL games or any other network TV without permission is prohibited because the broadcast is copyrighted. How is what the NFL is asking different than Microsoft creating special programs so its software can’t be copied? Should someone be allowed to make an unlimited numbered of copies (or 5 copies) of Windows XP, then sell them on the interent at a lower price than Microsoft or give the copies away for free?
The software industry has been very good about making it difficult to make unauthorized copies of its software. It has not put the same effort into preventing of coping products it doesn’t create i.e. music, video TV programs etc. In fact the software people seem to be working to simplify the copying of products it doesn’t create. Which to me is very two faced and saying that there is one set of rules for us and another set of rules for everyone else.

If TVO creats this innovation should everyone have the right to copy it and use it for free? Or should others have to pay TVO for the right to use its innovation?
If one elimiates copyright and patents then one totally stops major innovation because the creator could never profit from the invention.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: tvo innovation

Funny, in the time before patents and copyright, there still was innovation. In Switzerland from 1850 to 1907 and in the Netherlands from 1869 to 1912 there were no patents — and innovation thrived. The patent system can be just as stifling towards innovation.

The difference here and your description involving Microsoft is that this isn’t a situation where people are saying football must be protected, but they’re saying that TIVO must be the one to do the protecting, rather than Football itself.

So the analogy isn’t that Microsoft would need to create software that would prevent its OS from being offered, but that Dell and IBM and every computer maker would have to create that software on their own, and then submit it to Microsoft for approval — despite it not being their issue, but Microsofts.

Finally, the claim that “the creator could never profit from the invention” is simply false. It just means that the creator needs to be more creative about their business models. The fact that you can’t think of such a business model is your problem. If you read this site regularly, you would know that we’ve pointed to many business models that make perfect sense (and money) without having to rely on intellectual property laws. It’s a business question, not a legal one. Making it a legal one stymies innovation.

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