Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from Henry Jenkins

Downloading Television, Legal or Otherwise

Salon’s tech reporter Farhad Marjoo recently posted a thoughtful discussion of the current state of television downloads. The center piece of the article is a discussion of a recent FCC decision which cleared the way for TiVo, the digital recorder…

  • August 17, 2004

Salon’s tech reporter Farhad Marjoo recently posted a thoughtful discussion of the current state of television downloads. The center piece of the article is a discussion of a recent FCC decision which cleared the way for TiVo, the digital recorder folks, to offer a new service-TiVoToGo-which allows one to transfer digitally recorded content from your TiVo machine across the internet to your PC or to another TiVo. The service comes with plenty of hardware to make it difficult for the content to be shared with family or friends, let alone the general public, but it does represent a real convenience for folks like me who travel and want to catch up with their favorite shows. What I also want is a simple way to tell my TiVo from the road to tape shows I discover, say, reading a newspaper or magazine on the flight.



From here, the story goes on to look at a variety of strategies being adopted to share television content on the Web-which is as legal or illegal as downloading any other copyrighted content.



Reading the article got me off on one of my pet pipe dreams-reruns on demand. We can get there legally or illegally. The article describes the illegal route-connect enough television fans up using BitTorrent and RSS-and let them rip, burn, and trade your content. Or create a simple system where I can pay per view to watch episodes of television series while they are still on the air and still relevant in the culture. Right now, television producers are making a lot of money bundling together episodes from past seasons onto DVD and selling them. It used to be taken for granted that no one would pay for content that had been offered for free. Wrong. It was also assumed that selling content would interfere with ratings for reruns or interest in syndication packages. The success of Sex and the City in syndication after years of access on DVD would seem to disprove this. The next step is to sell me the content immediately after it airs, so if word of mouth builds on a new series, fans can go back and catch up on the episodes they missed, rather than waiting for rerun season and probably forgetting about it. Personally, I’d also love to be able to cherry-pick series off Showtime and HBO without having to subscribe to the whole network. I might in the end give them more money rather than less but I’d be paying for the content I wanted to see. Give it to me in a cheap, easy, timely, and legal fashion and there’s no reason for illegal downloads.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look: exclusive early access to important stories, before they’re available to anyone else

    Insider Conversations: listen in on in-depth calls between our editors and today’s thought leaders

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.