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Replay technology revamped

Ad-skipping feature nixed to appease nets

SAN FRANCISCO — ReplayTV, maker of a controversial personal video recorder that was the center of an entertainment industry lawsuit, said it will drop features from the newest version of its product that could inflame television networks.

ReplayTV, which was acquired out of bankruptcy court in April by Japan’s D&M Holdings, said its forthcoming ReplayTV 5500 won’t allow users to automatically skip over TV commercials or send recorded programs to others. ReplayTV is one of a class of personal video recorders that work by recording programs onto hard disks, allowing viewers to pause live television, among other capabilities.

SonicBlue, the previous owner of ReplayTV, was sued in 2001 by the major networks, including CBS, ABC and NBC, because of the two features Replay is now dropping. The networks alleged the features would undermine their advertising businesses and allow unauthorized distribution of their programming. SonicBlue filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

A spokeswoman for ReplayTV, which D&M Holdings acquired with other SonicBlue assets for $36.2 million, said the lawsuit didn’t carry over to D&M Holdings.

Michael Seedman, chairman of the Digital Networks North America subsidiary of D&M, said the company designed the new ReplayTV product to be “responsive to issues and concerns raised by the owners and distributors of copyrighted content.”

The new ReplayTV product will be available in August.