Friday, February 16, 2007

Time Is of the eCensors

It should be no surprise that major studios are spending so much cash to protect intellectual property. They spend big bucks to develop and produce a show; so why shouldn't they control distribution to get a reasonable ROI.

Movie studios led the anti-piracy movement for video, but now TV studios really feel they need it. That's why Viacom pulled their vids from YouTube. That's why some video sharing sites, like GUBA, have implemented software to automatically detect copyrighted video while other sites are catching up.

But that's not what this post is about. With all of this effort developing software to automatically detect items listed in a database, I'm surprised that the PTC or FCC hasn't funded a group to develop a software package that automatically censors shows that you watch based on items you select from a database. Not based on the show's distribution — website, TV station, etc — but solely based on audio and image analysis.

Maybe this software is the compromise we're all looking for. Some of us like to push the bounds of vulgarity and obscenity on broadcast television, while others want to protect everybody from the smallest impropriety. Just make the software a standard feature on all TVs or set-top boxes and set the defaults so that most things will be censored. If you want to see more, you have to change some settings.

Of course the software won't really solve the problem, but I'm still surprised advocacy groups aren't funding its development. (Maybe they are and I just haven't read about it yet. I would think that some of the more advanced anti-porn software could be ported for use on TV.) I imagine a group of people will work solely to find ways around the software to get some obscene language or indecent image past the autodetector.

And the cat-and-mouse game would continue as always.

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