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TVBrick offers international travelers way to stay tuned to home TV

A new product went on sale this month in France that promises to alleviate a little of the home sickness international travelers sometime feel, extend the broad reach of the Internet in a surprising way and raise concerns of broadcasters about copyright protection.

The TVBrick Home Server from Nexedi is intended to let international travelers watch local TV stations when they travel abroad. The Linux-based product connects to a broadband Internet connection in the home and lets users watch local TV programming on their PC when out of the country via a broadband Internet connection.

Currently the product works as intended in Japan and South Korea where typical Internet uploads achieve 256 kbps. At that rate, the TVBrick can provide international TV viewers with acceptable audio and 9-frames-per-second video. The company claims on its Web site that video performance will improve over the next couple of years.

For broadcasters, the sticky issue centers on copyright protection. According to the company’s frequently asked questions page on the Internet, the TVBrick is intended for use by a single family –much as a family might use a VCR to record and playback a show at a time that’s more convenient.

“Such use is only legal in two cases: If the user has a valid license on the reproduced works or if the reproduction is private and non-commercial (the latter being true in Europe and Japan only, with the exception of UK),” the company’s Web site said.

The site added: “It is not completely certain that the use of TVBrick is legal in countries of Common Law such as the USA or UK where the notion of fair use is quite versatile from one juridiction (sic) to another.”

Initially, the company sees Japanese living in Europe as its initial target market.

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