Viacom's CBS, Disney's ABC, General Electric's NBC and other media companies filed a multi-million dollar suit against ReplayTV and its owner SonicBlue in late October. The companies took legal issue with ReplayTV for providing a feature that many viewers have been using on their VCRs since VCRs first hit the market.
The companies fear that advertisers will be unwilling to pay for advertising that Replay's AutoSkip feature can make invisible to viewers, thus possibly eliminating the source of payment for copyright owners. This raises the question of whether CBS, ABC and NBC will bring lawsuits against VCR manufacturers for the same reasons.
These companies are also concerned that Replay's latest model will allow users to share video over local area and wide area computer networks, not to mention the Internet. According to sources at SonicBlue, it is a personal transaction allowing users with ReplayTV 4000 recorders to share files. Video is not posted to the Internet or shared with unknown users.
Ironically, ReplayTV was awarded a Technological/Engineering Emmy Award for its digital video recorder technology by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), which includes some of the same people who are suing Replay.
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