February 10, 2006
Uh, Sony vs. Universal Studios Much?

Gizmodo reports that HBO is trying to use a Broadcast flag to make its shows unrecordable by DVRs and conventional VHS tapes. From Ars Technica:

[In] a recent FCC filing [HBO] argues that its video-on-demand programming-and all "Subscription Video On Demand" services-should fall into the category of "Copy Never." In a broadcast-flagged world, that translate into consumers not being able to record on-demand broadcasts by HBO. No TiVo, no VCR, no video capturing on your PC, no nada.

It's too bad the courts have slapped down the broadcast flag before. Sony vs. Universal Studios (colloquially known as the Betamax case) established a precedent that timeshifting content did not infringe on a broadcaster's copyright, even if the technologies used to timeshift could be used for copyright infringing purposes. That's going to be a pretty high hurdle for HBO and strong-DRM advocates to clear, given that it's been settled law for over 21 years.