June 13 2006

When Big Business Fears Technology

Every time a new piece of technology comes along, it seems big business views it as the most evil contraption ever, devised by Satan himself! That is, until they figure out how to make some money on it themselves. It would seem that Major League Baseball is upset with Sling Media over their invention, the Sling Box.

For those of you not familiar with it, you attach the Sling Box to your cable/satellite receiver/DVR and so on. You then can access the Sling Box via the internet from anywhere in the world and watch what is on your TV currently, or what is saved on the DVR. It’s a brilliant idea and is known as “place shifting”.

Well, MLB doesn’t like place shifting. As the MLB group see’s it, you are violating your subscriber agreement by watching their programming in a location it was not originally intended for, cutting in to the local cable companies agreement. From the linked article:

At the heart of the issue is that Sling Media, Orb Networks and similar companies cut out cable and satellite operators who pay great sums for transmission rights in their areas, according to Kliavkoff. Baseball sells transmission rights to specific geographical locations. So, a cable subscriber in San Francisco who watches a Giants baseball game from his or her laptop during a visit to Chicago is stealing from the Chicago cable operator who paid to transmit MLB games in that city.

Ok, look, I paid my subscription fee, I am to be penalized because I can’t be home at the time the program airs, so I’m not allowed to enjoy what I have already paid for? I think not. How is this any different from “time shifting” a program so I can enjoy it at another time? And that is something the Supreme Court has ruled on decades ago. It is my right, as a legal subscriber, to enjoy the programming I paid for anyway I choose so long as it is for my private use. If I want to log-in to my Sling Box while I am away on business to watch my TV in my house on the subscription I paid for, that is my right.

For some reason big business always chooses to fear and attack a new technology right away. Too bad. This is a situation that falls clearly under the Beat Max ruling and they will not get very far with it. Get over it.

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