New TiVo Box Comes With HD Copyright Woes

TiVo's new Series 3 player, the first of the company's DVRs to be able to capture and replay HD content (HD Notebook, Sept. 13, 2006), is also being cited by some reviewers as containing a potential HD albatross around its tech-neck because of the unit's lack of portability--that is, the inability to transfer HD content to devices other than the living room TV monitor. The Series 3 does not allow burning HD video to HD DVD or Blu-ray discs; all content must remain inside the TiVo box.

It appears the chief culprit that limits this consumer option once again is the lack of technology for effective copyright protection that meets the requirements of content providers like Hollywood, and MSOs, according to published reports.

Although pirates, no doubt, will produce their own copies of HD movies, along with the standard content they steal, copyright owners are particularly sensitive about the distribution of HD movies because they figure even a sub-par pirated HD disc may look as good or better than a film on standard DVD, especially when played back on an analog set. (Some older, non-HD TiVo boxes do permit content transfer to other devices such as computers and iPod-type units.)

While TiVo said it's working with CableLabs to get certification for moving HD content outside the box, it's seems unlikely it will find a workable solution that will satisfy Hollywood and the cable firms for perhaps several years.