Las Pinas, Roland: Internet Television and the Copyright Laws

INTRODUCTION:

What do we really mean by the thing known as “Internet Television”? Are Filipinos ready for such thing? How do we react for such new and exciting concept that will change how the Filipino families view the traditional television? By traditional television, I mean the free channels that are readily available to an ordinary television. For those who can afford to pay, they can always avail of the cable television services.

They said that we Filipinos are up-to-date when it comes to modern technology. In fact, it is said that we are the number one people in the world when it comes to the use of the “world wide web” or otherwise known as the internet. But is this really true? In my view, majority of the Filipinos knows how to operate a computer, at the minimum. This is true especially for the young elementary and high school students. We can see that in every corner of the streets in urban cities have internet shops. I am sure that at least, there is an internet café/shop in highly populated rural areas. If one needs a computer, for research work or to chat a relative in abroad, one only needs to go out of his house and there, he can see an internet computer shop. In fact, in some places in Metro Manila, there are internet shops open and operating continuously for twenty-four (24) hours. Moreover, one proof that most Filipinos know how to operate, use and explore a computer was the showing of a “lola” playing Counter-Strike or on-line “rpg” (role-playing game) with her “apo” in the advertisement of Bayan DSL. This only shows that Filipinos, in all age-levels and brackets, are knowledgeable in computers.

I noticed, when I go to an internet café/shop, there are internet users who watch television programs in the You Tube. This is where I thought of the idea that very soon, the ordinary Filipino shall watch his/her favorite television programs via the internet right inside his/her sala or in the tranquility if his room. But how is this going to be possible?

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE INTERNET:

Leonard Kleinrock never imagined Facebook, Twitter or YouTube that day 40 years ago when his team gave birth to what is now taken for granted as the Internet.

On Octobe4 29, 1969, Kleinock led a team that got a computer at UCLA to “talk” at a research institute.

Kleinrock was driven by a certainty that computers were destined to speak to each other and that the resulting network should be as simple to use as telephones.

“I thought it would be computer to computer, not people to people,” Kleinrock said in a nod to online social networking and content sharing that are the hallmarks of the Internet Age.

“I never expected that my 99-year-old mother would be on the Internet like she was until she passed away.”

A key to getting computers to exchange data was breaking digitized information into packets fired between on-demand with no wasting of time, according to Kleinrock.

He had outlined his vision in a 1962 graduate school dissertation published as a book.

“Nobody cared, in particular AT & T,” Kleinock said. “I went to them and they said it wouldn’t work and that even if it worked they didn’t want anything to do with it.”

US telecom colossus AT & T ran lines connecting the computers for ARPANET, a project backed with money from a research arm of the US military.

Engineers began typing “LOG” to log into the distant computer, which crashed after getting the “O.”

“So, the first message was “Lo” as in “Lo and behold”, Kleinrock recounted. “We couldn’t have a better, more succint message.”

Kleinrock’s team logged in on the second try, sending digital data packetsbetween computers on the ARPANET. Computers at two other US universities were added to the network by the end of that year.

Funding came from the US Advanced Research Projects Agency (Arpa) established in 1958 in response to the launch of a Sputnik space flight by what was then the Soviet Union.

Kleinrock’s team ran a 15-foot cable between an Interface Message Processor device referred to by the acronym “IMP” and a ‘host” computer and tested sending data back and forth on September 2, 1969.

“That was the day this baby was born,” Kleinrock said.

The National Science Foundation added a series of super computers to the network in the late 1980’s, opening the on-line community to more scientists.

“The Internet was there, but it was not known to Joe Blow on the street’” Kleinrock said.

The Internet caught the public’s attention in the form of e-mail systems in workplaces and ignited a “dot-com” industry boom that went bust at the turn of the century.

“The original plan was that it should be very creative, basically it should be like a sandbox,” British professor Sir Tim Bernes-Lee said of creating the World Wide Web in 1990.

CONCEPT:

Internet television allows viewers to choose the show or the TV channel they want to watch from a library of shows or from a channel directory. The 2 forms of viewing Internet television are streaming and downloading onto a computer. The video may be broadcast with a peer-to-peer network(P2PTV), which doesn’t rely on a single website’s streaming. It differs from IPTV in that IPTV offerings, while also based on the IP protocol stacks, are typically offered on discrete service provider networks, highly managed to provide guaranteed quality of service and good bandwidth, and usually requiring a special IPTV set-top-box. However, some definitions of IPTV such as that defined by the ITU and the DVB, use the term IPTV as a superset of both ‘managed’ IPTV and Internet TV.

Other names for Internet television:

  • Television on the desktop (TOD)
  • TV over IP – Television over Internet Protocol
  • Vlog For video web logging.
  • Vodcast For video on demand.
  • Web TV (not to be confused with the Microsoft/MSN WebTV service), which refers to original episodic Web television programming
  • Over-the-top TV
  • NET TV (by Philips N.V.)

Methods used for Internet television:

  • Broadcatching For a P2PTV paradigm in use today.This model can save the cost of Internet TV service provider.
  • Streaming from a single website.Technologies used for Internet television: The Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) consortium of industry companies (such as SES Astra, Humax, Philips, and ANT Software)is currently promoting and establishing an open European standard (called HbbTV) for hybrid set-top boxes for the reception of broadcast and broadband digital TV and multimedia applications with a single user interface. IPTV/VoD: The open fourth platform

DISCUSSION:

Openly touted as nothing less than a revolution in interactive television, these internet-like services are trying to put a internet-like world on our living screens that any small business or individual can be part of. The trouble is that this “openness” is fools gold and they come with a sting in the tail – they are still fully controlled by the big boys, and they don’t quite share the philosophy that drove the uptake of the internet. Now contrast that with the internet, which is nearing a head-on collision with the world of pay television. In a little over 10 years, it has become the most powerful force of social change ever witnessed on this planet. It has the power to topple governments, create billionaires overnight and offers a virtually free platform for anyone to create and innovate around. The decision by academics at CERN to release their intellectual property to the world is as significant as the US-led HGP openly publishing the human genome. The internet is the great equaliser. Geography and distance have become irrelevant and a world has opened for the human race to collaborate in ways no one could have possibly imagined. It did all that because it was built on a principle of openness and philanthropy. The contrast TV over DSL is simply cable in telco’s clothes – as far as Joe Public is concerned it’s the same service, delivered over copper wiring. The architecture is the same, the content and menus are the same, and the commercial model is the same.
In other words, we can now see the modern technological revolution in our living room. The internet television shall change our traditional means or manner of watching television. If in the traditional way, a person just press a button in the remote control, now, our present television is just like a television cum personal computer. It is just like cable television but the difference is you can do some other things while watching the television like on-line chatting, e-mail, blogging, typing, etc. Our television has now become multi-tasking. But is it not that this only complicated matters for us? Is the ordinary Filipino ready for these ultra modern technology? How about the issue on censorship? Censorship will now become a thing of the past because as they say, there are no more limitations in the internet. Possibilities are endless.. Everything is there. Censorship shall now shift to the parents or the head of the family who shall regulate the use of Internet Television especially concerning the young, family members. So there would be less role for the Movie and Television Regulatory and Classification Board (MTRCB) who will confine itself to the passive audience. How about the programs of the local channels? Like the giant broadcsting networks ABS-CBN, GMA 7, etc. Are they willing to broadcast their soap operas, newscast, telenovelas through the Internet? How about the issues on copyight? Because an individual can actually record the programs in the internet, right? Is it not a person shall violate or infringe on the copyrighted shows of thises networks when one actually record them?

If we are going to bring the underlying power of the internet to TV, let’s charge it up with 100,000 volts and set out to truly change the entire world, instead of whimpering on about whether it will be a good cable substitute. Let’s take the box in the living room and set it on fire, and open it up so anyone can be a BBC. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but let’s set our sights on something much higher – a greater vision that would be difficult to fulfil in our own lifetimes. When you consider what we could do if we liberate ourselves from the chains of monopoly, it’s incredibly exciting. No more walled gardens, no more schedules, and no more limitations. Our current TV platforms all of a sudden look like dinosaurs of a lost age. There are important caveats to such a dreamy utopian scenario in that consumers don’t take to technology like technologists do. The average pub-goer has difficulty coming to terms with programming his old VCR, let alone a shining new interactive set-top box. Sky’s genius is making their platform easy enough to use that your pet could work it. We can’t overpower consumers with gadgets and overwhelm them with content, as it creates awkward barriers to adoption. This is TV, after all, and carpet-bombing people with everything we can find is overkill, as is working on the false assumption that people use televisions like they use PCs. How do you reconcile a free, open platform with a closed, pay TV one? It’s an extremely difficult question that the greatest of minds in the corporate world are struggling with. Not a day goes past without talk of how widely adopted IPTV will be as a 4th platform. Opening up a television platform is a profound step that can’t be considered lightly – other than the technological steps, there are commercial barriers that make it a difficult process. It is television based on a new idea rather than a new infrastructure. The experience of IPTV is a radical change from what we have all known before, as it provides true personalisation and two-way interactivity. Viewing comes through interacting rather than passively sifting through a funnel of unordered material we didn’t opt in for. The nature of on-demand content empowers the viewer and enables true freedom of choice that very few have had before, and the good news is that after the initial learning curve, it’s extraordinarily compelling and easy to sell.

My reaction to this is that internet television has become more personal between the user/viewer and the PC/ television itself. Here, the technology is already available. However, the commercial barrier we talk of here, in my view is the reluctance and/or unwilingness of the business people who shall be affected by the introduction of this new concept to the ordinary Filipino household. Is it their selfishness? Is it the greed for money? Is it to corner all the profits? It is correct to say that the internet television is a new, radical idea. The television design remains the same. It will remain a boob tube. But the manner we shall watch the television shows or the contents thereof is something new. Now, it is no longer just watching a television. The viewer is actually “on-line” while watching. The viewing is more interactive and it is now the viewer who shall dictate and determine what to watch and when he will watch or view the programs/contents. The viewer is no longer the passive person but rather, has an active role in his viewing habits. Menus are web pages that are specially adapted for TV viewing. Is it not exciting? A television with web pages and menu tool bars?

IPTV as technological platform owes much to its formative precedent of streaming video over the web. Typical standards (again unless you use proprietary products like Microsoft Windows Media or On2) revolve around MPEG-4 (all 22 parts), SMIL, real-time streaming protocols like RTP/RTSP, signalling protocols like SAP/SDP, transactional messaging through XML-based web services (SOAP, WSDL, UDDI etc) and distribution systems like multicasting. Today’s IP set-top boxes are more compliant with the latest W3C standards (XHTML 2, CSS 3.0) than web browsers like IE, Firefox, Opera and/or Safari. Asynchronous communications like Web 2.0’s AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML done through the XMLHttpRequest object) has been a staple of the iTV environment for years. Each piece of CPE has a different integration path because of differing hardware, but the most crucial point that underpins all this effort towards interoperation and compatibility is that the IPTV community has learnt from the lessons taught to us by the web and has opted to work within an open framework that tries its best to provide standardised abstraction when it comes to integrating proprietary systems. Using open technology standards is commercially beneficial as it allows innovators to easily cross-train an already enormous pool of developer talent that is available on the market today. Graphic designers need a re-think course to learn about TV display, and developers need to learn TV-specific extensions of middleware and differences between PC and set-top box capabilities. The barriers to building IPTV services are 1000 per cent lower than they are for TV platforms we have today. Almost anyone can set up a demonstration service literally within hours for negligible cost. Adapting existing web applications is incredibly easy as they use the same technologies. Traditional platforms take months of training and testing to build anything the brand owners will accept, and cost a small fortune to even get involved in. Sky noticed it, hence the “Sky Net” service and micropayment mechanisms. To the layman, an IPTV “service” (ie, a set of screens navigated to via an EPG) is technically just a website – it is screens designed in HTML/Javascript stored on a web server that a web browser in a settop box requests and displays. Where it differs is in CRM, payment processing and the richness of multimedia that can be displayed. Real-time DVD-quality video from within in a web application is a developer’s wet dream – one that the likes of YouTube and Google Video have been edging us closer to for some time now. Video ondemand is simply digital video files (AVI, MPG, MOV etc) being streaming over an QoS-enabled IP network using RTP/RTSP, and live video is just another of those streams, with its source set to multicast IP address and controlled with the likes of IGMP. With this kind of technology already freely available to anyone who looks for it, we have the basis of an open TV platform that anyone can develop for – even the weekend hobbyist. Access to that platform needs to be wide open so it is truly available equally to all. Anyone’s IPTV service should be accessible on any IPTV platform by any subscriber anywhere.

PIONEER OF INTERNET TELEVISION:

Indeed, one of the first pioneers of IPTV services in the UK are the academic community. Dozens of universities and colleges already provide high-bandwidth network connectivity to students across multiple campuses that they typically use for trading terabits of illegal music and movies (with Direct Connect, or DC++), when not finishing their assignments. Small ISPs that are involved in specialised, targeted local-loop unbundling are plugging terrestrial TV aerials into their networks and serving up multicast TV and radio over wide area IP networks onto student PCs and into communal living areas.

So we can see that it is really the segment of the youth, especially the students, that were the ones responsible for the popularization of the Internet Television. It originated from the youthful folly of exchanging proscribed materials in the university and avoiding legitimate purchases in stores by pirating music and movie materials.

Anyone should be able to create something that can go on a TV to be shared amongst multiple viewers and if they want to, make money from it in the same way as eBay and PayPal have created an entirely new genre of home business. Subscribing to an IPTV service should offer you a massive and unlimited amount of content that brings as little or as much of the whole world to your living room as you want. The IPTV brands of the future need to concentrate their efforts on making access as widely available as possible and making all this content easy to find and consume. It’s a strange irony that TV as a supposedly mass market medium doesn’t allow that market to contribute and evolve it. Our new worldwide TV platforms have the capability to reverse the conventional broadcasting paradigm. It’s not theirs anymore, it belongs to all of us. The excitement generated by anyone being able to innovate for TV is fuelling the interest in IPTV, and rightly so. As extraordinarily inspiring and amusing it will be to unleash 200 Sky Digital’s, the market couldn’t support it forever, as the battles over broadband testify. The unpalatable immediate future for content providers lies in splintered disparate audiences composed of varying numbers of subscribers – 5,000 here, 40,000 there and so on. These individual subscriber bases will form an aggregated IPTV audience that is not counted by the single brand, but by their demographic profile and the way they consume television, rather than how it is transmitted. It will be possible to go even further and collate sub-audience data for specific genres and programmes that are offered on-demand. ISPs can release personalised services that are entirely designed from a generic template for a single demographic – Asian communities, gay and/or lesbian groups, expats in countries more than 1,000km away and more. But what follows this gentle explosion will be the inevitable and necessary market force of consolidation – as we are seeing with telecoms, small brands will be hoovered up into bundled into larger entities.

The vested interests of dinosaurs and those that work for them would mean they would have you believe that the only type of content that people want is football, movies and sex. Not so. Yes, they are extremely popular, which is why they are so highly fought over, but they are not the be all and end all of television even if the conventional rules of popularity still apply regardless of the technology they operate within. This is the only world these people know. The people that repeat this trite rubbish tend to have very little comprehension of on-demand systems or acceptance of change. IPTV is seen as a serious threat to them so they play the infamous and highly effective FUD game (“fear, uncertainty and doubt”), in order to maintain control and feed precious egos that would suffer should their lack of knowledge come to be known. After the latest movies (which are in short supply and are drip fed), the most popular content for on-demand services are porn, music videos and back catalogue TV programmes. Ask anyone you know what they would watch if they could – the chances are most will say some bizarre bmovie or old TV-series they miss. Just imagine how history would have panned out if Churchill took people’s advice and shut up, or if Bill Gates decided in advance that IBM would never buy his operating system – where we are now is the same situation as there are critics galore claiming they see a bleak future this whole IPTV craze. The best and most revolutionary ideas are defiant and disruptive, and so is the case with IPTV. Creating an open platform is about as defiant and disruptive as you can get, which is why there will be massive resistance until the market forces mean incumbents have to adapt just to survive.

In closing, there are still plenty of possibilities and development in the field of Internet Television in the Philippines. There will come a time that this will just be an ordinary thing in our homes just like a toilet bowl in our bathrooms. In fact, there is already the introduction by the PLDT of it’s “PLDT my DSL WATCHPAD” where the family can watch all the channels and television shows for free. In fact, recently, the concert of the famous rock band U2 was watched over the Internet via the YouTube. It is hoped that there should be no strong resistance from the sector that will be affected by the introduction of this revolutionary stuff to our homes. We all love modern technology especially the internet but there are those who also hate it. As the discussion says, the world belongs to us and not to them.

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