May 30 2007

Various Technology Bits

Apple has released a new version of iTunes today. iTunes Plus is the DRM free, higher bit rate music from EMI. Other publishers will be joining in sometime in the future. This is a HUGE win for the end user. You can now use the files with the music player program of YOUR choice, the MP3 player of YOUR choice. This is a huge day in the history of downloadable media, and a victory for you, the consumer.


But at the same time, Major League Baseball is taking another swing at Sling Media’s Slingbox. In this story from CNET, MLB is supposedly mulling a lawsuit against Sling for violating their broadcast rights. Here are the two important paragraphs:

“Of course, what they are doing is not legal,” MLB general counsel Michael Mellis told the publication. “We and other leagues have formed a group to study the issue and plan our response. A lot depends on ongoing discussions. Plus, there’s no guarantee that Slingbox will be around next year. It’s a start-up.”

In response, Sling Media told CNET that allowing anyone besides the owner to access a Slingbox is a violation of the device’s end-user licensing agreement, and that if anything, the ability to watch one’s home team play when out of town or at the office, “creates a much tighter bond” between a fan and his or her baseball team and local broadcasting team.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Slingbox, it allows you to watch YOUR TV on YOUR computer from anywhere in the world with a high speed net connection. It is not of a quality for broadcasting, it is just a way for you to watch your own, legally purchased, programming in a manner of your choosing. It is, in my eyes, no different than recording a game to watch at a different time of day.

What if I am out of town on business and I record an MLB game a week later when I’m home? Would this not fall under the same argument from the MLB? I am time shifting the broadcast, but it is still for my personal use, the same as the Slingbox.

This is another example of big business not understanding a new technology, and instead of being thrilled people are watching their product at all, they have to whine about it. I personally don’t think MLB has a leg to stand on, but then again, I am not a lawyer.

And for the record, yes, I own a Slingbox, and I love it!

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