Rent My DVR, Innovative or Illicit?

Dave Zatz —  September 27, 2005

Rent My DVREarlier this year Micke Langberg launched Rent my DVR, an online marketplace to buy and sell television programming. By scanning a web listing of television shows, one chooses what they’d like to receive. If a request is filled, the show can be downloaded for about 25 cents through a custom “P2P” application. Conversely, a person can scan open television show requests and agree to provide them. The provider receives payment of also about 25 cents upon delivery of a show. Langberg, based in Sweden, is vague on the technical details such as networking protocols used and the source of guide data.

When asked about the legality of his product, Langberg responded, “I can’t see that there should be any legal concerns related to our service, since it is exactly the same thing as asking your neighbor to record a TV show for you.” While he was adamant that BitTorrent plays no part in the equation, I can’t help but wonder where shows originate.

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5 responses to Rent My DVR, Innovative or Illicit?

  1. hahahaha.. I LOVE IT!!! Stick it to those mega-media corporate bastards. Realistically, I can’t see the courts siding with “Rent My DVR” as it permits re-transmitting the original broadcast.

  2. There was something like this a couple of years back – only they recorded the shows for you, it wasn’t facilitating trades like this one. And they got *stomped* and closed.

    ‘Fair Use’ isn’t absolute. Time shifting is OK, but many content vendors have said they do not believe recording for others is fair use, and the courts have not, to my knowledge, said it is either. Also, when the courts allowed time shifting, they didn’t mean archiving permanently either.

    I can’t see this site operating for too long.

  3. However, how are the legal limitations in Sweden. Is it possible that what would not be Fair Use in the USA, would be considered Fair Use in Sweden?

    This could be interesting. And if online gaming sites can set up offshore to circumvent US restrictions, why can’t offshore content distributors?

  4. If it is determined to be a legal violation of copyright in the US, the US is a signatory of the Berne Convention, as are most nations at this point. So other signatories are required to protect US copyright (and the US their copyrights). So I suppose the US could call on the legal system in Sweden to enforce the US copyrights.

  5. I tried it today with “Veronica Mars”, and it’s just a bittorrent client …
    2 minutes after the show appeared on the torrent networks, the rentmyDVR client started downloading.
    Analyzing the TCP/IP traffic clearly showed it was using the bittorrent protocol. (Including the fact that your pc is also uploading to a bunch of people …)
    Clever guy, though, earning some money with such a simple trick !

    Maybe if I’m REALLY busy and can’t spear the 2 minutes to pick up the torrent myself, he can have my 20 cents. (But then again, if I’m that busy, how onearth am I goning to find the time to watch the show ! )