The Alviso, Calif.-based company, which sells a, had applied for government authorization so its customers could receive digital broadcasts and share them with up to 10 other TiVo units that share the same customer account. TiVo's forthcoming "Digital Output Protection Technology" is designed to prevent the files from being distributed more widely.
The Motion Picture Association of America and the National Football League had lobbied the FCC to say the planned security system did not follow the so-called "broadcast flag" requirements the government. TiVo's copy-protection technology was "promising" but does not provide copyright holders with sufficient ability to control how their works are shared, the MPAA told regulators.
Under the broadcast flag rules, starting in mid-2005 it will become illegal to sell or distribute any product that can receive certain digital TV streams--unless it includes government-approved copy protection.
But the government ended up granting TiVo the regulatory reprieve. The FCC said at its meeting Wednesday that TiVo's security system will be "appropriate for use" when receiving digital TV signals broadcast over the airwaves.
FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin voted to authorize TiVo but said he would have preferred imposing "proximity controls" on consumers. "I am concerned that Tivo's technology does not include sufficient constraints," he said. "All of the other technologies requesting approval from us have adopted proximity controls or similar mechanisms to limit content redistribution outside the home at this time."
The FCC also authorized about a dozen other technologies as meeting broadcast flag standards, including Sony's "Magic Gate" recording technology, Philips Electronics and Hewlett-Packard's Vidi Recordable DVD Protection System, and Microsoft's Windows Media Digital Rights Management.
"TiVo has always tried to maintain an appropriate balance between consumer interests and the rights of content providers," TiVo CEO Mike Ramsay said in a statement. "We look forward to working with the industry to develop new technologies that provide a great entertainment experience for consumers while protecting the rights of content providers."