There’s been more commentary on the IceTV case which I mentioned the other day (summary: television channel sues start-up providing TV programming data [ie, timetables of what time your shows are on] for personal video recorders, alleging copyright infringement of said program data). So if you are interested, go check out:

  1. Pete Black’s original post
  2. Joshua Gans
  3. Me
  4. The Age story
  5. Techdirt’s commentary
  6. IPKat (the commentary most sympathetic to Nine’s action).

The IPKat notes that ‘while Channel 9 might be preventing the development of a secondary market in such technology, unlike the ECJ’s Magill case, there is a good reason inherent in the nature of broadcasting for keeping this information back’. That’s easy to say in a country where PVR systems are relatively well established. But I think it ignores the context.

It is now late 2006. TiVo, the famous digital video recorder (DVR, or PVR) that allows you to tape and watch shows at a time of your choice, had its IPO back in 1999. By 2003, TiVos were so known that the device formed an integral part of a Sex and the City Episode (Miranda gets TiVo, gets very excited; Season Six). In 2000, a TiVo service launched in the UK (although it later stopped, and the market was effectively taken over by other players).

Australia does not, at this stage, have a compelling PVR service [and by that, I mean PVR with all the programming data and information to make it simple to record what you like, when you like, without worrying] offered by any large commercial player. Yes, if you are technically literate, it is relatively simple to buy a PVR and tinker with it; IceTV have made this process simpler. There is Foxtel IQ, but the data doesn’t cover all available channels (as I understand it, correct me if I’m wrong).

At least one reason for the slow takeoff is the problem of programming data – getting it, and the copyright issues. Welcome to the country where the television channels are so powerful, and so well protected by law, that consumers simply won’t get the latest technologies if they interfere with that well-protected market. And don’t even get me started on the other way media laws and licensing protect these big, powerful players.

[This opinion, by the way, is based on the facts as I understand them from following the debate over time as reflected in newspapers. Hey, if I’m wrong about any of these facts, please email me. I’d love to be corrected]