Many fans of digital video recorders made by TiVo Inc. are beginning to fear that Hollywood studios will one day reach into their set-top boxes to restrict the way they record and store movies and programs.
Among the functions included in TiVo’s latest software upgrade is the ability to allow broadcasters to erase material recorded by TiVo’s 3.6 million users after a certain date. That ability was demonstrated recently when some TiVo customers complained on TiVo community sites that episodes of “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill” they recorded were “red-flagged” for deletion by the copyright holder.
Some users also were upset that they were prevented from transferring these red-flagged shows to a PC via the TiVoToGo service.
Elliot Sloan, a TiVo spokesman, called the red-flag incident a “glitch” and said it affected only a handful of customers. “It’s a non-story,” Sloan said.
Nonetheless, skeptics among TiVo users questioned why TiVo would own such a technology unless the company planned to one day use it.