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TV Envy

SAN FRANCISCO — Silicon Valley has TV envy. The same digerati who deride the old school TV business would really like to be part of an old school TV business, or at least just like one.

Maybe it’s locational. The Bay Area’s beautiful and has major local software celebrities. But “L.A.” rolls off the tongue like a sigh and has the Jolie- Pitts.

L.A. also now has the gold. It’s in a suburb called “Burbank,” where TV content rights live. They live there because that’s where TV content and movies come from, and why Brad and Angie are up the hill. It’s also why Barry Diller, and in a slightly more psychedelic way, Alki David, are trying to convince federal judges to let them resell TV content as if it were their own, without licensing the rights. Because it’s worth a lot of money—like gold.

Gold’s, what $1,350. an ounce? TV’s what, $133,333 per second during the 2014 Super Bowl? Gold? (<_>_>) TV. Hmmm. Tough one.

Except that while gold travels in tightly controlled networks and is of a solid nature that when taken is considered stolen, TV content is of a nonphysical nature and is distributed literally everywhere, in a way that nearly anyone can capture and reproduce. The ease of sharing and redistributing TV content so obscures what constitutes its theft that a media law degree is now worth its weight in TV seconds.

TV and movie makers have locked down the legal rights of their stuff as a result. This creates a relatively high hurdle for the profusion of nouveau distributors and software-based content enhancers, who respond by pressing for free access and usage while simultaneously courting the industry from whom they want to steal to adopt and deploy their technology.

That’s why “TV everywhere” may not include your favorite show. Détente between new and old media is the only way it will.