Time shifting is the recording of programming to a storage medium to be viewed or listened to at a time more convenient to the consumer. Typically, this refers to TV programming but can also refer to radio shows via podcasts.
In recent years, the advent of the digital video recorder (DVR) has made time shifting easier, by using an electronic program guide (EPG) and recording shows onto a hard disk. Some DVRs have other possible time shifting methods, such as being able to start watching the recorded show from the beginning even if the recording is not yet complete. In the past, time shifting was done with a video cassette recorder (VCR) and its timer function, in which the VCR tunes into the appropriate station and records the show onto video tape.
Freesat+, Freeview+, Sky+, V+, and BT Vision services in Ireland and the UK allow one to timeshift. TiVo, DirecTV, and other US cable or satellite subscription services offer PVR set-top boxes, often for an additional monthly fee. DStv, based in South Africa, offers PVR set-top boxes to countries across Africa which allow time shifting of live and recorded television.
In cable television broadcasting, time shifting may also refer to the availability of network affiliates from different time zones, serving a similar function of making television programs available at multiple times throughout the day.
Certain broadcasters transmit timeshifted versions of their channels, usually one hour in the future, to enable those without recording abilities to resolve conflicts and those with recording abilities more flexibility in scheduling conflicting recordings. (See timeshift channel.)
History in the United States
The major legal issue involved in time shifting concerns "fair use" law and the possibility of copyright infringement. This legal issue is first raised in the landmark court case of Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. or the "Betamax case". In 1979, Universal sued Sony, claiming its timed recording capability amounted to copyright infringement.
Sony argued that the advent of its Betamax video recorder in 1976 did not violate the copyright of the owners of shows which the device recorded. A district court found that noncommercial home use recording was considered fair use and ruled in favor of Sony. In appeals, the United States Court of Appeals reversed this decision in 1981 giving the edge to Universal, but the Supreme Court of the United States reversed it yet again in 1984, and found in favor of Sony 5–4. The majority decision held that time shifting was a fair use, represented no substantial harm to the copyright holder and would not contribute to a diminished marketplace for its product.
Some providers, such as satellite TV companies, have introduced DVR features allowing consumers to skip over advertising entirely when watching a program which has been recorded to their DVR. The legality of this service, for which an extra fee can be assessed, has been challenged by television broadcasters, who assert that this form of time shifting is a violation of their copyright.
- Effects of time on North American broadcasting
- Format shifting
- Personal video recorder
- Space shifting
- Timeshift channel