November 11, 2004 4:00 AM PST
TiVo hacks flourish
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change depending on the hacks' popularity and capabilities.
"The most sensitive thing would be the copy protection that TiVo is bringing to market with upcoming products," said Rob Sanderson, a media and communications analyst with American Technology Research in San Francisco. "That's going to allow TiVo users to move content around to other devices aside from the TiVo box, like the PC or the notebook computer, and this is a very sensitive thing to the content owners. When you start moving movies or TV programs to devices that connect to public networks, you get a lot of people worried."
TiVo hacks--along with some company competitors--already do just that. Cassel's MFS_FTP extension, available since February 2003, lets people transfer programs from the TiVo box to the PC and back again.
TiVo's proposed technology to transfer files to the PC won the backing of the Federal Communications Commission in August over the protests of Hollywood, the National Football League and others concerned about such capabilities leading to widespread unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials.
But TiVo managed to persuade the FCC that its copy protections would adequately ward off a piracy free-for-all.
TiVo hackers scoff at the idea that the company's copy protections will slow them down.
"TiVos encrypt video by default and signature check the kernel to prevent any modifications," Cassel said. "Those have to be bypassed to do anything. The TiVoToGo controls won't be any harder to circumvent."
EtiVo, another TiVo hack making the rounds among high-tech couch potatoes, allows the archiving of TiVo-captured content at smaller file sizes.
More hacks are on the way. HDNet's Cuban suggested a few potential TiVo-related applications in a recent Web log posting.
For Cuban, who last month posted a TV technology wish list of sorts on his blog, the current TiVo hacks don't go far enough.
EtiVo "does everything on what you have already downloaded," Cuban said. "The key to these things working is that you have access to everything that is out there before you download it. I want access to everything that Comcast or Charter is out there securing and offering on VOD (video on demand)."
CNET News.com's Richard Shim contributed to this report.
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