It would appear that perseverance can pay off when it comes to the federal government. After more than
two years of work, Netflix has managed to get a little clause in the Video Privacy Protection Act changed, allowing them to allow you to share your own rental history with your friends. Currently the VPPA disallows any rental service from sharing your rental history without your specific WRITTEN consent.
Obviously Netflix, and other streaming services, are interested in allowing you to advertise for them... I mean share your rental history... on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Myspace. The altered bill will allow just that. First, the written consent has been altered, allowing an individual to provide consent over the Internet - no more writing a letter. Second, the consent can be granted for a period of time, instead of on a one-to-one basis. Clearly there are provisions for revoking permission, individually or bulk, but the standard permission will expire every two years.
The original law, passed in 1998, is an unusual situation in US law. It is one of the most thorough privacy laws ever passed, which accounts for the reason Netflix had so much trouble getting around it. The reason for its intensity is legendary and extremely weird. Judge Robert Bork was going through the process of Senate confirmations to join the Supreme Court, when a reporter retrieved and published the judge's rental history.
Judge Bork was not confirmed, but not likely because of his rental history. It was fairly normal for the time, with Alfred Hitchcock movies seeming to be his favorites. What it did, however, was scare the Senate enough to pass a sweeping law to protect mostly themselves. What the law, and the Senate, never expected was the Internet, at least in the state it is today. How could a group of people who are so disconnected from reality predict something no one else could see, either, right? Well, at least they are capable of learning.
So, will you be attaching your Netflix to your Facebook? Let us know in the comments.
Just a couple weeks ago we talked about Nintendo's Satoru Iwata apologizing for the
lack of advertised features that launched with the Wii U. Most users have had to endure a 5GB firmware update upon opening up the box of the new console, which has been a downer for some. Plus, until this week, one of the biggest and most-hyped features, TVii, was unavailable. However, fortunately, Nintendo has been working hard to bring us all the things they promised, and on December 20th they finally delivered us their entertainment app.
TVii, which allows users to enjoy a second-screen experience via their GamePad, plus loads of other entertainment options, was one of the main selling points during their E3 presentation and I'm glad to see it finally hit consoles, as it's nice to see Nintendo come out with their own take on replacing your living room cable box. Plus, all of the sponsored content in TVii has extensive second-screen features, like displaying cast information, sports stats and more. The GamePad is also able to act as a universal remote of sorts, letting users change channels and adjust the volume. Plus, you can choose to either watch shows that are live right now via your satellite or cable provider, or you can quickly switch over to something on Amazon Instant Video or Hulu Plus. Netflix, while available on the Wii U, will not be included into the TVii side of things until early next year and it should also be noted that those with TiVo will not have any support until 2013 as well.
Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo North America's president and COO was excited about TVii finally making its way to the Wii U.
After Dec. 20, you'll never look at your TV the same way again. Wii U owners have already experienced the transformative effect that the GamePad has on game play and social interaction. Nintendo TVii shows how the integrated second screen of the GamePad can also transform and enhance the TV viewing experience. Welcome to the new world of TVii.
With 400,000 units moved in the first week and retailers struggling to keep them in stock over the holiday season, perhaps this addition will be the insurance marker to convince potential customers to pick up the new console. For those who don't know, TVii is a completely free update for the Wii U and both versions of the console that's for sale are compatible with it. Have you downloaded TVii yet? How are you liking it? Let us know your pleasure or problematic experiences in the comments below.
While Netflix may be having
continuing success through the years, competition and problems still plague the company. This time it's over patent infringement, something we're getting used to hearing a lot about lately. Interactive TV solutions provider, OpenTV, has hit Netflix with a big lawsuit over seven patents that involve over-the-top TV technology. This directly affects Netflix and its digital rights and data management, as the parents in question regard things like video playback and how the company makes title recommendations to its users.
Kudelski SA, which is OpenTV's parent company based out of Switzerland, issues the lawsuit on Wednesday with the US District Court for Delaware but we've yet to see a copy hit the net. Kudelski deals primarily in technologies that relate to digital media platforms and distribution, and the company's reps said in the complaint that Netflix has used Kudelski's patented works to boost their growth. They've also said that Netflix has refused to pay for licenses on these infringements.
Companies like Netflix have, in essence, stood on the shoulders of giants, largely focusing their R&D efforts on aggregating these previously patented technologies and using them to provide a rich customer experience.
Considering that Netflix has been in a couple of legal battles before, this one is quite note-worthy, because if Kudelski were to win, it's possible Netflix will have to shut some of its services down completely (very unlikely), redesign its interface and selection algorithms (also unlikely) or pay Kudelski a licensing fee to use the technologies in question (most likely). As expected, we're going to see more and more lawsuits like this as the digital video space expands and grows, leaving just one or two companies standing when the dust settles. I just hope that these lawsuits don't end up taking down the big companies simply because they'd be too stubborn to pay some fees. Netflix has yet to comment on the matter but they will have to issue a response to the suit soon, before the hearing. We'll let you know what route they decide to take and if they will simply settle out of court.