Steal This Show

2 Feb ’05

The NYT has a story on file-sharing broadcast video, and the FCC’s broadcast flag rule – it’s a good overview of video downloading, the technology and the regulatory / industry responses to it.  Money quote from the industry:

"We have to try as an industry to get ahead of this and give the audience an attractive model before the illegal file-sharer providers meet their needs," said David F. Poltrack, CBS Television’s executive vice president for research and planning.

"The clock is ticking on this," he added.

This perhaps is my entry in the IT Understatement of the Year Awards.  And it’s only January.

The article also mentions Videora, a new app designed by a student at Carleton University in Ottawa that appears to integrate RSS and BitTorrent technology:

And the technology is getting easier to use by the day. Sajeeth Cherian, a 20-year-old communications engineering senior at Carleton University in Ottawa, decided there must be a better way to find BitTorrent files on the Web after listening to the constant gripes of his roommate about how much time he was spending searching for Japanese anime. Videora was his response. Plug in what shows you want to find, and it does all the work. He’s charging $22.95 for the software.

"I thought this was a big idea, a bigger idea than trying to shut my roommate up," Mr. Cherian said.

Although it can be used for piracy, Videora is legal, he said: "I’ve considered this. I wouldn’t want to get my pants sued off, and this has many legitimate uses."

However, Videora’s illegitimate uses threaten one of the most welcome bonanzas for the television industry in recent years. Television DVD’s, an afterthought in the DVD market just three years ago, were an estimated $2.3 billion-dollar business last year, according to a recent Merrill Lynch research report. They now represent nearly 15 percent of total DVD revenue, with profit margins between 40 and 50 percent.

Judging from the slick look of Sajeeth’s website (“Videora Holdings”?  Already he has a Holdings?) and those comments, he’s had legal advice.  I wonder who gave him the opinion?

In any event, what struck me in particular was the juxtaposition of the first and last sentences in that quote; once again, the YATSTEMIJBROOB phenomenon at work – Yet Another Twenty-Something Threatening the Entire Media Industry Just By Rolling Out Of Bed.  You can practically feel the industry’s pain – first with Bram Cohen (yes, he was in his mid 20’s when he developed BitTorrent), and now with this guy …

This is just another measure of course, of the disruptive power of technology.

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