Capitol Broadcasting President Jim Goodmon is as impressed as anyone with the Slingbox, the new TV-on-the-Web gadget from Sling Media. He hooked one up to his TV in Charlotte, N.C., so he can watch Capitol’s Charlotte stations when he is in Raleigh.
But he thinks that the much-hyped device (one of Time magazine’s “best inventions” of 2005) may be, well, illegal. “I can’t believe that hasn’t been stopped already,” Goodman says.
The device connects a TV or set-top box to a broadband- enabled computer, allowing one to watch—and control—a home TV remotely via the Internet.
Goodmon suspects the Slingbox violates program copyright laws—and maybe retransmission-consent agreements—by enabling out-of-market viewing of network and syndicated content.
“I have a deal with the cable system,” he says, “and they have retransmission consent for the cable system in this market. They don’t have it for everyplace else. They can’t do that; there’s no way that’s legal.”
Sling Media spokesman Brian Jaquet says, “We feel confident that the laws and regulations in place allow us to provide this kind of service under the laws of fair use.”
The company just closed a $46.6 million round of financing led by media-holding company Liberty Media, DBS operator EchoStar Communications, and investment bank Goldman Sachs. So it may be feeling scrappy.
In a statement on the financing, co-founder/CEO Blake Krikorian said, “In summary, we are stoked.”