Man Charged With Putting TV Show He Found On The Web... On The Web?

from the how-much-damage? dept

Apparently federal authorities are charging a man in Chicago with copyright violations for uploading copies of Fox's TV show "24" to the web. There are a few things that don't make sense here. First, the article claims that the guy downloaded the shows off of a website before loading them onto a different website. While that still is copyright infringement, it's not clear why that's such a big catch for federal authorities that they're trumpeting it. The fact that he got the videos from another website also suggests that the "damage" done by this particular guy was probably negligible since the content was already available online elsewhere. On top of that, one could argue that it's unlikely the guy did much to damage the commercial viability of the show, since the show was eventually broadcast for free on TV. Yes, you could claim that people could watch the downloaded version without commercials -- but the same is true of anyone who watched the same show via their DVRs. However, now, the guy is facing three years in jail, which seems like quite an overreaction.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    GoblinJuice, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 4:26pm

    o_O

    1) Who/What was the original source?

    2) What website did he obtain the video from? Was it really a website, or an ftp dump or a newsgroup or... you're probably getting my thinking.

    3) Three years... for... this? o_O

     

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  2.  
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    bonbon, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:01pm

    While that still is copyright infringement, it's not clear why that's such a big catch for federal authorities that they're trumpeting it.


    The FBI nabbed a guy selling Surface to Air missiles. Turns out the guy bought them from another guy who was selling them.

    Techdirt reports: It's not clear why the FBI is making a big deal about nabbing this guy.

     

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  3.  
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    bonbon, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:05pm

    A man was caught giving heroin to a small child. It appears this man was also given the heroin by somebody else.

    Techdirt reports: We're not sure why they're so happy to nab the second guy who was merely passing along what he himself was given for free. In fact the reality is that the child could have just as easily obtained the heroin from the first man is he wanted to.

     

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  4.  
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    Steven, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:05pm

    Re:

    In other news, bonbon likes to suck in completely unrelated topics to try and suggest things really are that bad.

    Seriously, do you think this guy uploading 24 to a website really had much of an impact as to it's availability?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:09pm

    3 years.....sheesh
    soon they will be cutting our hands off for stealing bread...this country is going back in time, our 'holy war' (what i mean by that is, changing the structure of society to our view of good) against iraq, sever punishments for minor crimes, not being able to question authority including the president and many many more things

    does anyone else see this happening or am i going crazy?

     

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  6.  
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    bonbon, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re:

    Do the math Steve.

    Nevermind, I obviously have to do it for you.

    24 is on one website. 100 people see it.
    24 is now on two websites. 200 people see it.

    So yes, to answer your question, I do think it had an impact on it's availability.

     

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  7.  
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    Steven, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:15pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ah. I understand now. Each website has a strict user limit that prevents access to the file after 100 views. It's a good thing these people have never heard of search engines.

    And of course the early release of this video must have cost at least several hundred people their lives as well as detracted from the popularity of the show.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:15pm

    your not crazy

    This country is being sent to the shitter by the bible thumping community that thinks supporting anyone who is moderatly relgious in a position of power and giving them the absolute authority to do as they please is the morral way of things. Fuck you and your belifes if it ever infringes on mine. Allow people do whatever they please so long as it doesnt affect anyone else in a way or means that results in a negative effect. Tolerance is the true virtue, not faith in the make beleive.

     

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  9.  
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    Jon Healey, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:23pm

    Why this matters

    This is a classic case of getting a low guy on the totem pole and following the chain back up to the initial leaker. This was, after all, a pre-release leak, so GoblinJuice is probably right -- the guy in Chicago most likely got the videos from a distro. And if he got it from a private distro and posted it on a public site, yes, that vastly increased its availability to the public. As for Steven's point about the impact, if Fox can't capture the ad revenue from folks who watch the show online, it won't make it available there. Not that it matters now that the show has completely jumped the shark, but still....

     

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  10.  
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    bonbon, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Jesus Christ Steven. Are you really that stupid, or are you just trying to appear that way.

    My point is that you cannot submit the defense that you were merely passing along something that was already stolen and therefore your not guilty of anything.

    It's called fencing.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:31pm

    Bonbon is illogical

    Comparing selling heroin to copyright infringement is absolutely ridiculous. You should be ashamed of yourself

     

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  12.  
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    smokebreak, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:42pm

    Bonbon is illogical

    I Agree Completely, I mean come on..... With mad skills like using a child to parody any situation, you should be working for a government propaganda....oops, i mean marketing campaign :), every comment you posted is a reason I think the general population needs to be educated.

     

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  13.  
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    jordan, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:43pm

    Yeah! a new dorpus!

    strangely, i miss him.

    thank you bonbon, your ridiculous comparisons made me laugh.

     

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  14.  
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    John, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 5:56pm

    It is information.

    Information should be free. If you want to sell something that is more convenient, like being broadcast over the air or by selling on a portable collectible reusable DVD... then go right ahead. But to say that someone just trying to share entertainment with people in a free medium, making no money himself, is comparable to a heroin sell to a child if fucking ludicrous.

    In the heroin case you are permanently scaring a small child and possible addicting them for life while padding your wallet because little jimmy is stealing from his parents wallets to finance his new 'candy'.

    Where in the copyright infringement case, you are slightly lowering the number of people watching the show, which doesn't affect nielson ratings anyway unless someone who has a neislon box is watching them online vs the TV.

     

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  15.  
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    Kyros, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 6:01pm

    Bonbon...If I can go to blah.com and download 24, why does it matter if i can also go to random.com and download it? Yes, a few more people will see it, but it doesn't mean much.
    The only person with a valid point as to the source reupload would be Goblin Juice, in which, How did he obtain it? Did he buy it legally then illegally youtube it?

     

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  16.  
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    Noah Callaway, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 6:03pm

    I hope bonbon is a joke

    Bonbon your analogy is flawed.

    First of all the idea that selling stolen property is equivalent to copyright infringement is flawed (see Dowling v. United States; while that case itself is about interstate transport it clearly draws a line between stolen property and ).

    Is he guilty of copyright infringement? Yeah, as the law's written now, he is. Is it a huge victory for the FBI to bring this man down (i.e. will it stop the spread of the show, or prevent shows from being put online in the future)? Not really, no. Does three years in jail for copyright infringement, that barely hurts the company (and in fact, probably does it good), seem like too harsh of a sentence? To me, yes it does.

    So...what's wrong with the article that's presented?

    Also, a minor correction to your math:
    24 is on 1,000 websites. 400,000 people see it (nearly 300,000 of those coming from one or two popular websites).
    24 is now on 1,001 websites. 401,000 people see it.
    That's an increase of
    (401,000-400,000)/400,000 * 100 % = .25%
    Devastating. How will Fox ever handle the added popularity of their product?

     

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  17.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 6:09pm

    It might be because...

    They may be going on about it because the hope to "compel" this guy somehow reveal the original source.

    Just like the heroine dealer in some of the earlier comments here. DEA busts the little guy in hopes of establishing a trail that leads to the big fish.

     

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  18.  
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    Coaster, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 6:24pm

    and this is bad...why?

    So...someone downloaded a video from some internet site, thought it was worth watching and posted it on another internet site. Now, most internet videos I have seen have been lacking something in the quality department. If it were something really good, then wouldn't those that saw it pre-release be more likely to go see it at it's regularly scheduled program time? And really - internet video is not going to replace television viewing in popularity any time soon....no matter what the download numbers, the tv viewership will be higher. They should just consider it another demographic and roll with it. Sending one user to jail is like blaming one smoker for lung cancer.

     

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  19.  
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    Dosquatch, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 8:56pm

    Re:

    24 is on one website. 100 people see it.
    24 is now on two websites. 200 people see it.

    You are so right, bonbon. Because, Lord knows, the last thing the producers want is for people to see the show. I mean, really, how hard is that to understand?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 9:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "My point is that you cannot submit the defense that you were merely passing along something that was already stolen and therefore your not guilty of anything."

    Nothing was stolen here.

     

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  21.  
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    Dosquatch, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 9:01pm

    Re:

    something that was already stolen

    I fully expect this point will be lost on you, but I'll say it anyway - copyright infringement is not theft. Theft entails the concept of depriving a rightful owner of his/her property. Duplication of an item does not deprive the owner of their property.

     

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  22.  
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    Metal1633, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 9:11pm

    Re: and this is bad...why?

    ""wouldn't those that saw it pre-release be more likely to go see it at it's regularly scheduled program time?""
    YES and and ratings skyrocket when a show is good enough for thousands of people to download "Pirated" pre-releases. Battlestar Galactica is a case which goes to the heart of the issue. 2 months before the 1st season premiere the episode was posted on the internet. Hundreds of Thousands of people downloaded it and the premiere ratings were the Highest of ANY cable show.

     

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  23.  
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    Charles Griswold, Jun 4th, 2007 @ 9:17pm

    Re:

    "News flash: Small child dies of '24' overdose. Illegal website uploads have been blamed. Film at 11:00."

    bonbon, your analogies are flawed. To say the least.

     

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  24.  
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    mike allen, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 12:09am

    not theft

    How can something that is free to start with be theft not possible putting it on a 2nd web site would mean that more could possibly see it if the people who owned it didnt want it seen why put it on the net? ( assuming they did) if it was not them the the culprits are the original posters of this show,
    Come on USA get your justice system sorted I used to love America for its love of freedom now its looking more like a communist dictatorship.

     

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  25.  
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    mike allen, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 12:18am

    Re: Re:

    would you care to explain that consept to the IRAA and sound exchange er before july 15 please

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 4:36am

    saved bandwidth

    this guy actual just saved the bandwidth of the original site. and helped produce more hits on search engines .

     

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  27.  
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    Some Jerk, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 5:04am

    Way to fire up the hornets nest

    Bonbon, with only a few flaws in your logic, you've brought everyone down off their recliners to comment. Personally, I feel your analogy is simply overly extreme and misses the concept of scarcity. The heroin is highly harmful to both the end user and society as a whole, whereas the (potentially) bootlegged '24' may only have a minor impact on a small group of people. Because there are so many sites that traffic in this form of piracy, it's hard to see why the FBI is so happy about this one small victory. The problem here is they've nabbed (as per your analogy) a small time pusher...someone who is making their first 'deal' or possibly a better comparison would be someone who just shares it with his friends. So they descend upon this dude and cheer while the manufacturers and big time pushers laugh. I dunno, it's early morning, maybe I'm missing the point as well.

     

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  28.  
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    skh.pcola, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 10:09am

    I agree that this situation is over-the-top. Fox puts all of the "24" episodes online itself, and anybody can freely watch them: www.myspace.com/24

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Re. "Jesus Christ Steven. Are you really that stupid..."


    Yes, he really is that stupid

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re:

    >> fully expect this point will be lost on you, but I'll say it anyway - copyright infringement is not theft. Theft
    >> entails the concept of depriving a rightful owner of his/her property. Duplication of an item does not deprive
    >> the owner of their property.

    Was waiting for that train to come in. Man, it's never late.

    You mince words.

     

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  31.  
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    The infamous Joe, Jun 5th, 2007 @ 11:47am

    Minced meat.

    It's not mincing words at all.. *you* are trying to link the feelings associated with "theft" with something that is *not* theft.

    If I walked into an art store, snapped a picture of a painting, went home and recreated the painting-- would you say I stole the painting? No, you would not.

    Is it illegal? Yes.

    Is it stealing? No.

    Gah, this black propaganda you freely spew forth is sickening. Don't repeat everything you hear the RIAA say, sheep. The law is clear on what theft is-- even if you are not.

     

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