There's been a bit of discussion on two patent applications filed by Philips on what the author of this NYT article refers to as "pay to surf" technology. Part of me hopes that they patented this simply to prevent others from using the invention, but somehow I don't think that's the case.
(Aside: Why the over-the-top rhetoric? I'm not exactly sure that the right to channel-surf during commercials or fast-forward through recorded is an "inalienable right".)
The principles behind copyright are meant to encourage expression, not protect business models. William Patry sums it up nicely in his discussion on the fourth fair use factor:
The fourth factor analysis of harm to the market for the copyrighted work was a bunch of hoo-ha in [Sony]. The fourth factor concerns ways in which copying of the work itself damages similar or otherwise relevant markets for the particular type of copying done by defendant. The fourth factor most certainly does not concern harm to advertisers, nor does it reach reduced advertising revenues because viewers are not copying or not viewing a third party's works, i.e., the advertisments. Sony, properly understood, did not deal with copying of the works in question at all. Whatever else one thinks about how to deal with the issue of advertising, we should not distort basic principles of fair use, when the real issues lie outside of copyright altogether.
Fair use analysis aside, I still have trouble trying to understand why commercial skipping would be excluded from FECA.