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Endangered Devices and How We Can Save Them
Wendy Seltzer, Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Jason Schultz, Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Date: Tuesday, March 15
Time: 1:45pm - 2:30pm
Location: California Ballroom B

FCC Chairman Michael Powell calls TiVo "God's machine." Countless devotees have declared that "You can take my TiVo when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!" But suppose none of us had ever been given the opportunity to use a TiVo? Or, for that matter, an iPod? Suppose instead that Hollywood's lobbyists and legislators had hunted down, hobbled, or "killed" these innovative devices in infancy or adolescence, to ensure that they wouldn't grow up to threaten the status quo?

That's the strategy the entertainment industry is employing to assert control over the next generation of TiVos and iPods. Using law, lobbying, and inter-industry "cooperation," entertainment companies are working hard to make sure that only industry-approved devices and technologies will be successful.

But their strategy doesn't just kill off lots of clever devices--it spoils the environment for technological innovation. If the movie studios had succeeded in blocking the VCR, television "time-shifting" would never have taken off; neither would the flourishing home rental market or the gadgets around it. In an open environment, creativity blossoms. When inventors have to ask permission before bringing new technologies to market, everybody loses.

Rather than sit back and watch as promising new technologies are killed off at the entertainment industry's behest, EFF has developed an "endangered devices list" so that activists can help us work to preserve them. We'll explore both the threats to innovation and the steps we can take to stop the threats and save the gizmos.

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