TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Steal This Show

Steal This Show

Monty Solomon (
Sun, 30 Jan 2005 03:15:47 -0500


ISAAC RICHARDS didn't think of himself as a rebel, or a shock to the
well-lubricated system of the television industry. He was merely
unhappy with the cable box provided by his local operator.

Dismayed by the sluggish channel-changing capability and the sparsely
informative program guide, he decided to build a better cable box from
scratch. Today, nearly three years since Mr. Richards, a 26-year-old
computer software programmer in Willoughby, Ohio, embarked on his
quest, hundreds of thousands of do-it-yourself television viewers are
using the free software program he wrote, MythTV, to turn desktop
personal computers into customized cable boxes, complete with the
ability to record shows, surf the Web and strip out unwanted

The members of the MythTV community, who now do not have to pay
monthly fees to rent set-top boxes or digital video recorders, have
plenty of more mischievous company in trying to outwit the television
industry. Millions of viewers are now watching illegal copies of
television programs -- even full seasons copied from popular DVD's --
that are flitting about the Internet, thanks to other new programs
that allow users to upload and download the large files quickly. And
entrepreneurial souls are busily concocting even newer applications,
including one that searches the Internet for illegal copies of any
television shows you may desire and automatically downloads them to
your computer.

These high-tech tricks address desires that have become standard in
an age of instant media gratification: the desire to watch what you
want, when and how you want it. And they're turning television --
traditionally beamed into homes at the convenience of the broadcast
and cable networks -- into something more flexible, highly portable
and commercial free.

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