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The Public Knowledge Interview: Set Top Boxes at CES

January 20, 2010 Broadband , HDTV , Innovation , Network Neutrality , Plug and Play

As you may have noticed, Public Knowledge spent some time at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. While we wandered the floor with the best of them, we also found time to talk with some of the people who are trying to bring Internet video to your TV.

Syabas (Popbox)

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Browsers vs. Widgets: The Battle to Bring Internet Video to Your TV

January 14, 2010 Broadband , Competition , Fair Use , HDTV , Network Neutrality

I spent a lot of time at CES talking to companies that are trying to bring Internet video to your TV. Looking back, two types of companies emerged: Browser companies and Widget companies.

Browsers vs. Widgets

Browser companies are companies who see no difference between accessing video on a traditional computer monitor and accessing it on a TV. As far as they are concerned, if you are using a computer to access content on the Internet it should not matter if you are watching it on a screen classified as a monitor or a screen classified as a TV (or, for that matter, how far away you are sitting from the screen). This allows Browser companies to make all the video on the web available to users.

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Promoting Innovation in Video Devices

December 18, 2009 Broadband , Competition , FCC , HDTV , Innovation

Public Knowledge has long argued that the market for "video devices"–things like set-top boxes and DVRs that you attach to your cable or satellite provider's network–is not as competitive as it should be. In fact, it's not as competitive as the law requires: back in the 1990s, Congress directed the FCC to adopt regulations promoting common standards of interoperability to make the market for these video devices as competitive as the market for other high-tech equipment. As a result of this lack of competition, consumers end up paying high prices for limited devices.

There are many reasons for this lack of competition.

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MPAA: Still No Reason to Break TVs, DVD Copy Protection Does Not Stop Copying

December 11, 2009 Analog Hole , DRM , Fair Use , HDTV , Plug and Play

As devotees of our hit video series Five Minutes with Harold Feld (or as the cool kids call it “5MWHF”) will no doubt recall, on the eve of Thanksgiving MPAA dropped a lengthy filing into the Selectable Output Control (SOC) docket. Among other things, it called Harold a liar. Harold immediately took five minutes to tell MPAA to chillax, and yesterday we filed our official response with the FCC. Although I urge you to read our full reply (I promise it is much shorter than the MPAA’s), if you are in a rush here is the short version. Our response basically made three points.

**Most of MPAA’s Filing is Unrelated to SOC.

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Warner Brothers to FCC: When We Say SOC Is Necessary, We Mean Not Necessary

November 4, 2009 Analog Hole , Fair Use , FCC , HDTV , Plug and Play

As the Selectable Output Control (SOC) battle continues here in Washington, Public Knowledge just sent a letter to the FCC pointing out that movie studios are doing some of the best work to show why SOC just doesn’t make sense.

As you may recall, the entire point of SOC is to allow movie studios to release movies via Video on Demand (VoD) prior to the DVD release. The MPAA claims that without SOC protection, the VoD releases (which, unlike DVDs, are not protected and therefore theoretically easier to copy) would immediately be used to make perfect copies available to pirates. These perfect copies would destroy the market for DVDs, and ultimately destroy Hollywood. SOC protection would allow studios to protect VoD distribution and therefore save Hollywood.

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