If you had any doubt that consumers of digital content can determine how the content is constructed and consume it the way THEY want it, look no further than Lifextender (http://www.lifextender.com/) a free tool for Windows Media Center Edition that extracts all commercials from TV recordings you have stored on your hard drive.
Lifextender was developed around an engine (which is open source and free as well) called "Comskip". Here is a quote that describes how simple and smart Comskip is:
The recording is analyzed on various characteristics such as black frames, silences and changes in aspect ratio. Based on this information Comskip segments the recording in blocks and using heuristics, together with additional information such as the presence of logo, the scene change rate, Close Captioning information and other information sources Comskip tries to determine what blocks of the recording are to be characterized as commercials.
Don't be surprised if you hear of a Tivo-like product that makes it as easy as American pie to eliminate all commercials from recorded content. Is this a "hacker's tool" or an example of things to come? Years have gone by since the predicted "imminent death of the ad" when DVR was initially introduced and today only 19% of households have adopted its use. The impact of DVR on commercial ratings (C3) has not been so dreadful as was once thought. Is this a pattern of things to come?
I have my own proprietary player
Broadcasters & content providers create their own custom players that prevent the user from fast-forwarding video content and allow an ad to be force-fed to the viewer. These players go to great lengths to mask the origination point of the video that is served up to the viewer to prevent a capture of the video stream by the user.
So you think your custom player is protecting your content? Here is another interesting product that does away with all the layers of protection you came up with: WM Recorder (http://www.wmrecorder.com/) will automatically monitor any downstream transfer of video content, whether a flash video (flv) from YouTube or wmv or other content. The program connects to the source stream by monitoring your browser's activity and downloads the source video by mimicking a media player.
In the world of digital content in which we have diminishing control over the delivery platform (a user's PC or a tabletop video device), it will be increasingly difficult to control their behavior, whether we like it or not. The knee-jerk reaction of taking legal action may be a battle won and a war lost as RIAA realized when the amount of negative publicity outweighed the traction it won in courts suing individuals (such as the disabled unemployed mother). Hundreds of blogs have been created as a backlash against Sony BMG, RIAA and other pundants of IP lawsuits, see example http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/
As new entertainment devices enter the market and more users have jaw-opening download speeds at their disposal (pronounced "FIOS") more video content will be accessible to the masses. The key question is whether or not content will continue to be supported by commercial sponsors the way they have done so since 1950's. Smarter product placement/integration and a continuous stream of entertainment (undetectable by auto-commercial-removers) may address a small portion of the enigma, or perhaps advertisers will bypass the keyboard and our eyes and transmit commercial content directly into our brain.(http://www.bluemedia.com/blueline/uncategorized/schizophrenia-ad-gimmick)
I leave you with a very interesting video on subliminal advertising that may prove that an all-out 30 second spot may not be the only way to deliver a message to the viewer:
Tiran can be reached by sending email to Tiran (at) TiranDagan.com