Earlier this week I wrote at PVC of my belief that 2009 can be a big year for independent video producers. Two things have to happen for my dream to come true.
- The transition to DTV has to be completed on time, and the auction of the 700 MHz bandwidth has to be open to newcomers like Apple and Google – WiFi everywhere, WiFi for all!
- Net neutrality has to be maintained. Small video producers need equal access to the network.
The post coincided with the FCC hearing at Harvard Law School. Briefly stated, Comcast was being accused of limiting the bandwidth available to BitTorrent users on its broadband network. I’m all for net neutrality, but rising to the defense of weasels pirating content via BitTorrent makes me uneasy. Yet, for the greater good that’s where I came down. Comcast has no right to determine whose bits get moved along faster. Nobody signed up for that.
Now here’s what I don’t get. If Comcast wanted to get the BitTorrent weasels off its network, why not just start charging for uploads. Every plan comes with a couple of hundred megabytes upload allowance. Go over that allowance, and you get whacked. P2P networks like BitTorrent require users to make content on their machines available to others on the network. Once that starts costing money, people will begin opting out.
Instead Comcast ticked off the Republican chairman of the FCC. Considering the FCC has been big media’s rubber stamp since the Reagan era, that’s just Comcastic!
Some good background:
One of the more innovative P2P services is shutting down as of January 30. Tubes was aimed at people looking to move big files around.
Anyone you permit can access anything in the tube right on their desktop just by downloading Tubes and accepting your invitation. With the proper permission level (which you control) they can also contribute to your tube and tubeSite. For instance, if they add or edit files in the tube on their desktop those changes automatically replicate everywhere — back to your desktop, the desktops of all the other members of that tube and to the tubeSite on the web. Tubes eliminates the need to resend or upload files making it super easy to collaborate with anyone anywhere.
It would have been a useful tool… had it ever been available on OS X. My creative team and I simply spent too much of our working lives on Macs for Tubes to have added much value to our workflow.
Certainly the lack of a Mac client wasn’t all that did in Tubes. Breaking into the P2P and collaboration space in 2007 was no small feat.
It will be interesting to see where the technology lands, and whether the service will be relaunched with a new business model and focus.
Now things get really interesting. TiVo’s announcement to extend TiVo ToGo to iPod and PSP transfers is exciting enough, but imagine if the commercials could be zapped along the way. It’s probably something that can be done fairly easily in software. Broadcast television signals include closed captions. There’s always a break in the captions when the system goes to commericals. The trick is figuring our which new caption pulse represents the restart of the show and not just another commerical.
And TiVo’s answer to DRM:
To discourage abuse or unlawful use of this feature, TiVo intends to employ “watermark” technologies on programs transferred to a portable device using the TiVo ToGo feature that would enable tracking of the account from which a transferred program originated.
I like it. Don’t put the stuff on BitTorrent and you have nothing to worry about. Of course Apple won’t be thrilled. Those $1.99 episodes of Lost start looking expensive. When the feature ships I will probably switch from my cable company-supplied DVR (with not as good as TiVo functionality to begin with) to the standalone TiVo product.