The VCR has given way to TiVo, but consumers who have shelled out hundreds of dollars for digital video recorders could be out of luck in the near future.
Broadcasters are scheduled to begin delivering digital TV signals in 2006, giving consumers better picture and sound quality in their homes. However, Hollywood is threatening to withhold its movies unless cable companies are given the right to prohibit taping of shows. Since the new signals will deliver perfect copies to the home, the entertainment companies want to protect their content.
Electronics manufacturers believe this is an attempt to hijack their products, putting them at the mercy of movie studios while taking away the rights consumers have come to expect when using their VCRs, according to Michael Petricone, a member of the Home Recording Rights Coalition.
The biggest blow would be for consumers who have already purchased a TiVo or ReplayTV, two of the most popular digital video recorders. The devices can't handle digital signals, making them obsolete when DTV becomes the standard.