Philips’ Patent Would Kill the Right to Click Freely
“They will take my remote control away only when they pry it from my cold, dead hands. This thought followed my first reading of a patent application for a new kind of television set and digital video recorder recently filed by a unit of Royal Philips Electronics at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The design appears to threaten the inalienable right to channel-surf during commercials or fast-forward through ads in programs you’ve taped.
“A second, calmer reading of the patent application revealed that the proposed design would uphold the right to avoid commercials, but only for those who paid a fee. Those disinclined to pay would be prevented from changing channels during commercials. As a business proposition, the concept appears dead on arrival: what consumer would voluntarily buy a television designed to charge fees for using it?
“Philips’s pay-to-surf proposal may be the first of its kind, but we should expect to see other ideas that would not have appeared in days past, when advertising-based television thrived. Today, the digital video recorder is slowly, but surely, tunneling through the television industry’s foundation.
Randall Stross. Someone Has to Pay for TV. But Who? And How? The New York Times. May 7, 2006.
Barry Fox. Invention: The TV-Advert Enforcer. NewScientist.com. April 18, 2006.
U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Apparatus and Method for Preventing Switching From a Channel During An Advertisement Display (Applied for by Philips Intellectual Property & Standards). March 30, 2006.
CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the law, business, and technology of digital content. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.