Thursday, October 13, 2005 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

More Signs of the Impending Death of Content Controls

By now you've heard that Apple is launching a video-capable version of its wildly popular iPod. Apple is a real trailblazer, obviously, when it comes to innovative mobile media applications, but they're not the only one.

For example, take a look at EchoStar's incredible new application, the "Pocket DISH." The PocketDISH allows consumers to access video, music, games and photos all on one small device. PocketDISH owners will be able to transfer programs from DISH Network receivers to the player and then enjoy their favorite programs on the go. It'll be like having a TiVo in your pocket.

And the PlayStation Portable offers most of the same capabilities too. After enterprising hackers modified the PSP to do a heck of a lot more than just play games and watch movies, Sony decided to offer PSP owners downloadable software "patches" that expand the PSP into the ultimate all-in-one multi-media device. For example, click here if you'd like to find out how to watch TV using a PSP.

These amazing innovations once again illustrate the challenge lawmakers will face in the future regarding media regulation. Indeed, as I will argue in my next book, content controls are essentially doomed in our new world of media convergence and rapid technological innovation.

Think about it... how do you regulate devices like Apple's video iPod, the PocketDISH, and the PlayStation Portable when consumers can use them (and modify them) to do just about anything and receive any type of media they want, wherever they want, whenever they want? Broadcast era content controls just won't work in this environment absent extremely intrusive measures. But I'm sure that won't stop lawmakers from trying.

posted by Adam Thierer @ 9:54 PM | Free Speech , Mass Media