June 10, 2003 10:44 AM PDT

ReplayTV puts ad skipping on pause

ReplayTV said Tuesday that its new digital video recording boxes won't include some of the features that have angered copyright holders.

The company said its upcoming ReplayTV 5500 boxes, which are expected to be released in August, will not contain the Send Show and Automatic Commercial Advance tools as the company tries to "address the concerns of copyright holders."

ReplayTV has come under fire from major TV networks and movie studios for offering the features, which let consumers play back TV shows without commercials or send the shows to others. Digital video recorders (DVRs) are similar to VCRs, but instead of storing shows on a tape, they are stored on a hard drive.

"It is our goal to try to resolve issues that emerge in the area of digital media networking and be a positive force in the industry," Michael Seedman, chairman of Digital Networks North America, which bought ReplayTV in April, said in a statement.

Two years ago, the major movie studios and TV networks filed a lawsuit against Sonicblue, which at the time owned ReplayTV. The resulting legal tangles were partly responsible for hobbling Sonicblue, which filed for bankruptcy in March. The company was aggressive in promoting commercial-skipping and show-sharing technologies. The lawsuit, which has been combined with a case involving ReplayTV owners, is still ongoing in federal court in Los Angeles.

A representative for ReplayTV's new owner said the company made a business decision not to offer the disputed features in future products after reviewing the matter, but current models will still have them.

ReplayTV said the new 5500 DVRs will come with version 5.0 of the company's software, which will offer new tools including the ability to identify recording conflicts and assign recording to another ReplayTV device, pause a movie on one set and continue watching it on another, and skip recording repeats of shows.

The company also said it will maintain offerings such as QuickSkip, which lets people fast-forward through programs in 30-second increments. In the future, it hopes to let consumers use their ReplayTV units to send non-copyrighted materials, such as home videos, across the Internet to other ReplayTV units and computers.

 

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