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"TiVo is God's Machine"

Via Slashdot, FCC chairman Michael Powell calls TiVo "God's Machine":

"My favorite product that I got for Christmas is TiVo," FCC chairman Michael Powell said during a question and answer session at the International Consumer Electronics Show. "TiVo is God's machine."

If Powell's enthusiasm for digital recordings of TV broadcasts are reflected in FCC rulings, the entertainment industry could find it difficult to push in Washington its agenda for technical restrictions on making and sharing such recordings.

Powell said he intended to use the TiVo machine to record TV shows to play on other television sets in his home, and even suggested that he might share recordings with his sister if she were to miss a favorite show.

"I'd like to move it to other TVs," he said of his digitally recorded programming. A number of products already allow that.

A TiVo competitor, SONICblue, has been sued by top motion picture studios and some television networks over a ReplayTV device that enables users to share digitally recorded shows over the Internet with a limited group of fellow ReplayTV owners.

If Michael Powell gets the religion on why freedom of recording and playback is important, we could all win. It's one thing to work at a government agency and listen sympathetically as Jack "Boom Boom" Valenti talks about how he fought for civil rights with Lyndon Johnson and how his industry will be destroyed by the Internet. It's another to go home and realize that while all you want to do is to use your DVR like a VCR -- watch shows at another time, or in another room of the house -- that's precisely the sort of legal and reasonable activity Valenti's film industry and their counterparts in the television business want to stop.

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