Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell called TiVo "God's machine," and its devotees have been known to declare, "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 or own a TiVo -- or, for that matter, an iPOd? Suppose instead that Hollywood and the record companies hunted down, hobbled, or killed these innovative gizmos in infancy or adolescence, to ensure that they wouldn't grow up to threaten the status quo?
That's the strategy the mainstream entertainment industry is pushing to control the next generation of innovative gadgets. Its arsenal includes government-backed technology mandates, lawsuits, international treaties, and behind-the-scenes negotiations in seemingly obscure technology standards groups. The result is a world in which, increasingly, only industry-approved devices and technologies are "allowed" to survive in the marketplace.
Not only is this bad news for innovation and free competition, it also threatens a wide range of legitimate personal freedoms -- everything from making educational "fair" use of TV or movie clips for a classroom presentation, to creating your own "Daily Show"-style political commentaries, to simply copying an MP3 file to a second device so you can take your music with you.
Rather than sit back and watch as promising new technologies are picked off one-by-one, EFF has created the Endangered Gizmos List to help identify these threats to fair use and preserve the environment for innovation.