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RecordTV.com to sell assets

The Web VCR service puts its assets up for sale shortly after settling a legal battle with major movie and TV studios. 

Web VCR service RecordTV.com said Wednesday that it is selling its assets as a result of legal and financial troubles.

The Los Angeles-based company, which briefly offered consumers the ability to record TV shows and play them back online, said it plans to sell its intellectual property, including trademarks, domain names and technologies.

The announcement provides the latest cautionary tale for companies seeking to marry television and the Internet, a troubled relationship that has led to numerous legal tangles. Although RecordTV hoped to avoid courtroom battles, the company soon followed the path of Canadian start-up iCraveTV.com, which aimed to put live broadcast TV on the Web in 1999. iCraveTV was hit with massive lawsuits from U.S. and Canadian broadcasters. As a result, its efforts fell into ruins.

Last month, RecordTV settled a lawsuit with the Motion Picture Association of America that charged the company with copyright violations for recording movies and streaming them online without permission. RecordTV agreed to pay $50,000 and said it would not record or showcase any of the works owned by the big studios without first gaining permission.

"We were kind of in a catch-22," said RecordTV Chief Executive David Simon. "We couldn't raise funding because of the legal issues...but we couldn't also fight the lawsuit without raising funding."

Founded in November 1999, RecordTV set out to create a Web-based VCR through its technologies, dubbed One-Click Recording and Useit. One-Click Recording let people record content from local TV and basic cable programs and stream it via their computers; Useit is a digital rights management technology that prevents unauthorized copying and downloading.

Since its inception, the company has been plagued with controversy, drawing backlash from major movie and TV studios.

"We gave up and couldn't keep fighting," Simon said. "Maybe one of the movie studios itself who own the content and has the ability to do it and the rights to do it can do something with (our technologies)...but at this point, I guess I've got to give up the ghost."