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NBC Inc. and Showtime Networks Inc. may have themselves to blame for creating technology they claim is threatening their businesses. Two years ago, the broadcasters invested in ReplayTV Inc., essentially helping pay for the development of technology the broadcasters are now saying infringes on their copyrighted content. The broadcasters also own stock in ReplayTV’s parent company, Sonicblue Inc., which bought ReplayTV last summer, according to a Sonicblue spokeswoman. Eight other media companies are also plaintiffs in Paramount Pictures Corp. v. ReplayTV Inc., 0109358, which was filed Oct. 31 in federal court in Los Angeles. The media giants, including ABC Inc. and CBS Broadcasting, claim the newest ReplayTV system has some nefarious features. Specifically, the broadcasters claim two features on ReplayTV’s system for recording and replaying television programs — which enable viewers to zoom through commercials and to e-mail TV programs — undermine the copyrighted value of TV content. What’s not spelled out in court documents is that Showtime and NBC invested in Santa Clara, Calif.-based ReplayTV in January 2000. The two companies, and at least six other investors, ponied up $61.6 million, according to securities filings. It’s unclear how much cash each of the investors put up at that time. NBC Inc. claims ReplayTV was a different company back then. “The investment was originally made in Replay because we thought they had an interesting technology,” said Rebecca Tompkins, an NBC spokeswoman. “At the time that we invested, [the technology] obviously didn’t have any of the features like the two,” Tompkins added. This isn’t the first beef NBC or Showtime has had with ReplayTV. The two broadcasters, and five other investors, fought Sonicblue’s purchase of ReplayTV. Some of the investors are still complaining about how much they got out of the deal, but not NBC and Showtime. They’ve obviously taken their beef to a different venue.

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