A method and apparatus for receiving requests for the remote storage of time schedule media programs from a client over the Internet and the delivery of such media programs in a specified streaming video format to the client is disclosed. The client requests the recording of a media program by a delivery device which delivery device identifies, in an e-mail message to the client, the storage location of the requested program in the delivery system. The client then accesses the delivery system via the Internet using the storage location identity and the delivery system delivers the stored program. The method and apparatus receives media program signals from distributed geographic locations to provide the client access to media programs not available at the client's location. Tools are also provided to simplify media program selection and storage.
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1. A media program delivery method comprising:
- receiving a request for media program services, from a client amount a plurality of clients, for recording a delivery of media programs from a media program provider having access to sources of media and a plurality of media delivery systems having a scheduler for recording and playback control of media programs;
- determining a client storage capacity in storage remote to the client based on a grade of service selected by the client, wherein the grad of service comprises a duration of total media program time and a media program delivery data rate;
- storing the determined client storage capacity as a storage capacity parameter in a client file; and
- assigning a cost of the media program services by the media program provider to the client base on the client's selected grad of service.
2. The media program delivery method of claim 1 further comprising:
- receiving a request to record an identified media program from the client;
- determining whether the storage capacity required by the identified media program exceeds the client storage capacity;
- selecting the identified media program from a media source selected by the client or from a best available media source;
- recording the identified media program in a media format selected by the client in a media storage facility shared for media program services if the identified media program does not exceed the client storage capacity; and
- notifying the client of the amount of remaining client available storage time if the identified media program exceeds the client storage capacity and this remaining client available storage time is insufficient to record the identified media program.
3. The media program delivery method of claim 2 further comprising offering additional storage time to the client if the identified media program exceeds the client storage capacity.
4. The media program delivery method of claim 1 comprising:
- receiving a request for purchase of additional storage time from the client and in response thereto, increasing the storage capacity parameter in the client file to reflect the purchase of additional storage time.
5. The media program delivery method of claim 2 further comprising:
- delivering the identified media program to the client in the client selected media format upon the client requesting delivery of the identified media program.
6. The media program delivery method of claim 2 further comprising:
- determining the amount of storage time needed to store the identified media program and denying storage when the needed amount of storage time exceeds the amount of client storage capacity.
7. The media program delivery method of claim 6 further comprising:
- offering additional storage time to the client.
8. The media program delivery method of claim 2 wherein the identified media program is stored in a plurality of media program storage locations and the media program delivery method comprises notifying an allocator function of the total amount of storage capacity in use to store media programs request by the client.
9. A storage allocation method comprising:
- receiving a request from a client for media program services from a media program provider;
- determining a client storage capacity allocation based on a client's selected grade of service, wherein the grade of service comprises a duration of total media program time and a media program delivery data rate;
- allocating in a selected media storage facility shared for media program serviced the client's storage capacity allocation to use for media program storage;
- receiving a request for recording of an identified media program from the client;
- determining whether the storage capacity required by the identified media program exceeds the client storage capacity allocation;
- storing the identified media program for a predetermined time period if the identified media program does not exceed the client storage capacity allocation; and
- automatically reclaiming the amount of storage capacity used to store the identified media program at the end of the predetermined time period, wherein the reclaimed storage capacity may be reused by the client.
10. The storage allocation method of claim 9 further comprising:
- notifying the client of an expiration date before the end of the predetermined time period.
11. The storage allocation method of claim 10 further comprising:
- offering the client an additional time period of storage for the identified media program.
12. A media program storage system comprising:
- a plurality of storage units for receiving and storing a predetermined plurality of requested media program sand for supporting a plurality of grads or service, said storage units being located in different geographic locations and each grade of service of the plurality of grades of service comprising a duration of total media program time and a media program delivery data rate;
- a network accessible server for receiving requests for storage of the requested media programs from network connected clients and in response to a request from a client for a media program operates to notify one of the plurality of storage units to receive and store the requested media program in a client selected format wherein the network accessible server stores a value identifying an amount of storage available to the client and
- the network accessible server operates to notify the requesting client of a network address at which to retrieve the stored media program.
13. The media program storage system of claim 12 further comprising:
- apparatus responsive to a delivery request from the client via the network for delivering the stored media program in the client selected format to the client via the network.
14. The media program storage systems of claim 12 wherein the network accessible server stores a preferred listing of media program s for access by the client.
15. The media program storage system of claim 14 wherein the network accessible server stores listings of media programs in addition to the preferred listing.