Can You Copyright Movie Times?

from the and-if-you-could,-why-would-you? dept

One of our readers, Jay Anderson, writes in to let us know that he was working on a useful little app to let people put in their zip code, find local movies, and click through to buy tickets. In doing so, he found an undocumented API on a major site that provided all the relevant info, and linked back to MovieShowtimes.com, a site owned by West World Media. Anderson contacted the site to find out if it had some sort of affiliate program since it was reasonable to assume the site would be happy to gain some free traffic. No such luck. Instead, he got back a threatening letter, warning him that he was opening himself up to copyright infringement damages that could be upwards of $600,000 per month.
You need to know it is unlawful and a violation of our copyright and intellectual property rights for you to build a system that obtains our content from any source other than to obtain an expressed license from West World Media for legal usage of our content. Each violation of our Intellectual property rights allows us to collect damages of up to $150,000 per infringement. This would equate in liquid damages of over $600,000 per month if you violate our rights.
Anderson responded, asking the company how factual information (such as movie times) could be covered by copyright, and the company responded:
"It is not our responsibility or duty to explain complex US Intellectual Property rights law, we however enjoy many protections from them. I suggest you hire an IP attorney to explain it to you. From your response, it seems to me you have no intentions of moving forward in a legal manner. We closely monitor any and all usage of our content and if we discover your unlawful usage of it, we will exercise our rights to their fullest extent of the law."
Now, obviously, the company makes its money by licensing its database of showtimes to certain websites, but that information is factual, and it's difficult to see how the company could hold a copyright on it (at least in the US, where there's no real "database right" -- elsewhere... perhaps a different story). There's also no creative element in merely listing showtimes, and it's hard to see how they would possibly be covered by copyright. If the problem is that the company is upset that its business model can't handle other people sending it traffic, that's a business model problem, not a copyright problem. Time to redesign the business model to take a cut of sales, rather than to rely on artificial copyrights. Unfortunately, though, it doesn't stop a company from making such threats...

Separately, this reminds me of the fact that, just a few months ago, we were talking about how the movie times in newspapers were apparently paid advertisements by the theaters themselves. So, this seems like an odd switch as well: newspapers get paid for movie listings, but websites have to pay for them? How does that work?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:03am

    "So, this seems like an odd switch as well: newspapers get paid for movie listings, but websites have to pay for them? How does that work?"

    It's just another way for rich and powerful entities to find more ways to monetize anything that brings anyone utility hence reducing total utility and aggregate output.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:05am

    "It is not our responsibility or duty to explain complex US Intellectual Property rights law, we however enjoy many protections from them. I suggest you hire an IP attorney to explain it to you. From your response, it seems to me you have no intentions of moving forward in a legal manner. We closely monitor any and all usage of our content and if we discover your unlawful usage of it, we will exercise our rights to their fullest extent of the law."

    That sounds like the one most Asinine response I've ever heard.

    Imagine if we asked someone to explain the concept of time to us and got that response.

    "It is not our responsibility or duty to explain the complex system that is the pasage of the universe to you. In fact, we know that we're so much smarter than you, that we can tell you to get fucked and suffer no problems because Daddy government will beat you up if we so much as whimper. So good luck with your enterprise, I hope we can screw every last cent out of you to pad our bottom line. Tell your friends to do the same.

    Also, it's five thirty. But you can't tell anyone that or we'll sue the shit out of you."

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:46am

      Re:

      "Imagine if we asked someone to explain the concept of time to us and got that response."

      Time is the passage of events.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:47am

      Re:

      "Imagine if we asked someone to explain the concept of time to us and got that response."

      Time is copyright since everything that happens is my copyright literature so you owe me tons of money now. Expect a lawsuit soon.

       

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      JB, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:40am

      Re:

      I would have sent them another e-mail asking them to explain what protections they enjoy from these complex US Intellectual Property rights. If they are unable to explain this portion, then how can they claim protection under them? If they actually respond with their 'protections,' take the e-mail to an IP lawyer and sue them for copyfraud. Otherwise, forward their response to their executives and the EFF. Either way, it will be educational for their legal team.

       

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    Yohann, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:08am

    Anonymous program

    So why not just post the program anonymously, along with the source code? I happen to be a big advocate of opensource technologies, and releasing a helpful program such as this anonymously would allow 1) people to use it, and 2) people to develop better apps with the source code.

    Releasing the program anonymously would also protect the programmer from lawsuits, also. I'm not just talking about GPL'ing the thing. I mean using a China-based proxy and posting it onto forums for all to use and look at.

     

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    lavi d (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:18am

    Detentocracy

    Pretty soon, everyone who's not already in jail on petty drug charges, will be in jail on petty IP infringement charges.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:21am

    The real wtf here is the fact that they have an open API that apparently doesn't require some sort of API key (provided by them) to access. Most sites that offer an API for third-party integration require you to obtain an API key that they can use to track (and limit when necessary) usage.

    If this site had done things properly, none of this would be an issue because the developer would not be able to use the API in the first place.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:24am

    I think it's 2 separate issues here:
    1. Facts: which haven't courts said can't be copyrighted, via court cases for Fantasy sports leagues and such using real players stats?
    2. The program using somebody elses database of facts.

    Sure, they are entwined here, but while he may have the right to use any facts he wants, I don't think he has the right to use their database, no matter what it contains. Whether or not that's via copyright, or tos/tou, or something else, I don't know.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:58am

      Re:

      In the US, there is no copyright on databases of factual information.

      If they were to have a locked, keyed API, it would certainly be illegal for him to hack his way into it and use it. But it doesn't sound like that's the case. If their API stream is publicly accessible, and they have no copyright claim over the content (which it would seem they don't), then he isn't in violation of anything.

      I suppose there could be additional TOS issues on methods of access, but a TOS doesn't allow them to claim ownership over uncopyrightable content.

       

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:32am

    Get yourself a movie times attorney:

    "So, this seems like an odd switch as well: newspapers get paid for movie listings, but websites have to pay for them? How does that work?"

    It is not our responsibility or duty to explain complex US and local movie listings, we however enjoy many benefits from them. I suggest you hire a Movie Times attorney to explain it to you.

    Love,

    Dewey, Cheatem, & Howe
    Attorneys at law

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:50am

      Re: Get yourself a movie times attorney:

      I'll be sure to contact one of my local movie times professor the next time I want to see a movie. They only charge like $100 an hour. Perhaps I should go to school and get a degree in movie times.

       

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      PlagueSD, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:57am

      Re: Get yourself a movie times attorney:

      Looks like someone's a Car Talk Fan...Did you get permission to use that Attorney's name from them?

       

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        Valkor, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:38am

        Re: Re: Get yourself a movie times attorney:

        That law firm has been around since the Three Stooges, at least, and who's to say it didn't come from somewhere else?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:40am

          Re: Re: Re: Get yourself a movie times attorney:

          Well it does seem like law firms tend to be run by a bunch of stooges. They might as well be.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:35am

    I looked at their site, and they offer content and services beyond simple movie times - services that Jay would be directly competing with, in fact. So it's not as simple as them trying to copyright movie times.

    If Jay wanted to drive around to each theater and write down the show times himself, I don't think anyone would complain.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:18am

      Re:

      I looked at their site, and they offer content and services beyond simple movie times - services that Jay would be directly competing with, in fact. So it's not as simple as them trying to copyright movie times.

      It doesn't matter if they're competing. That's not how copyright law works.

       

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        Brooks (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 11:07am

        Re: Re:

        Are you saying that if I publish facts, everyone can use them, even my competitors? What about people I just don't like? I sure don't want any vegetarians using the facts I publish, that's for sure. I figure that publishing them makes them mine, after all.

        If copyright law isn't the answer, how can I legally prevent anyone from competing with me? Don't I have a right to a profitable business, whatever model I choose?

         

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          mobiGeek (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Copyright is not about stifling competition. And copyright does not, in ANY WAY, grant you a right to a profitable business. Nothing does (or at least, nothing should).

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No one has the right to a profitable business, regardless of their business model.

           

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          Jeff, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually, copyright allows you to protect *your* material. US law currently does not allow the copyright of facts. You may publish the time of the sunrise tomorrow - I can use it however I like. If you publish your opinion, or a story about the sunrise, then *your* content is protected - not the fact that sun is going to rise (and when).

           

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          The Infamous Joe (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 10:21am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Look at everyone totally miss the sarcasm.

          Awesome. :)

           

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    kazanjig, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:39am

    It's not the showtimes that are copyrighted; it's their arrangement of the showtimes in the database. It's two completely different things. Just like a phonebook: the names and numbers aren't copyrightable, but their arrangement in the book is. Basic copyright law.

     

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      Another AC, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:42am

      Re:

      Who owns the copyright on alphabetical order?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:43am

      Re:

      Alphabetical order and sorting by time is copyrightable?

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:17am

      Re:

      It's not the showtimes that are copyrighted; it's their arrangement of the showtimes in the database. It's two completely different things. Just like a phonebook: the names and numbers aren't copyrightable, but their arrangement in the book is. Basic copyright law.

      Not under US copyright law it's not. Without special unique creativity in the arrangement, which Anderson would have to copy, there's no copyright here.

       

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        Comboman (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 11:08am

        Re: Re:

        Feist v Rural is the applicable Supreme Court ruling.

        In regard to collections of facts, O'Connor states that copyright can only apply to the creative aspects of collection: the creative choice of what data to include or exclude, the order and style in which the information is presented, etc., but not on the information itself. If Feist were to take the directory and rearrange them it would destroy the copyright owned in the data. The court ruled that Rural's directory was nothing more than an alphabetic list of all subscribers to its service, which it was required to compile under law, and that no creative expression was involved. The fact that Rural spent considerable time and money collecting the data was irrelevant to copyright law, and Rural's copyright claim was dismissed.

         

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      EMB, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

      Re:

      Your argument is flawed in that a phone book's arrangement is NOT copyrightable. This was the Supreme Court's holding in Feist v. Rural Telephone.

      The phone book lists names in alphabetical order. There is nothing original about this, and thus it is not protected. So long as you listed the movie times in numerical order (why would you do it any other way), there is no protection.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2009 @ 9:49am

        Re: Re:

        Well, for those that suggested the major site shut down the api access for this feed, they took your advice, if the major site was Yahoo. It returns a "forbidden" error.

        I think what a lot of people missed in this discussion is that the company that stands to earn the money is not the same as the company that collects and provides the data. That's why the response was negative. The data provider wants to control the data. Why they didn't respond to the inquiry with "we would be glad to provide you the feed for $$$" I don't know.

        The weaker the case they have, the more they try to use shock and awe threats to maintain control. They don't think about winning in court, their strategy is to threaten you with so much cost to defend yourself that you give up your rights to use any facts you find anywhere without fear of a copyright claim.

        The movie industry itself needs to flex a little muscle here, and make sure this feed is provided free of charge to whomever wants it, but my experience with the movie industry is that it is populated with control freaks who would view such a thing as an unacceptable loss of their sacred control, and who just do not understand the Internet. It took them twenty years to understand the Video Rental Industry, for whom I once tried to create a kiosk that would play trailers on demand for people inside video stores, and recieved the famous "we will not allow you to use our content in such a manner" letter from studio lawyers for my trouble.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:46am

    Poor initial contact with company

    Idiotic response by company

    Poor follow-up contact in response to company's response

    Condescending response by company

    First contact should have been to the CEO and along the lines of "I have means immediately at hand to direct more traffic to your site and raise its "brand" recognition to a larger base of potential users. Since you site is ad based, and since "hits" serve to enhance your business model and revenue, I would like to talk with you about how we can accomplish this for our mutual benefit."

    I submit the first response would have been markedly different in tone and substance, and the two following exchanges rendered moot.

    Initiating contact with a company by asking "May I?" is an approach that will almost certainly result in such contact being directed to a legal department/law firm (a group for which the word "yes" is missing from its dictionary). A contact generally along the lines suggested above would almost certainly keep the matter in the hands of the business/marketing group.

    One should always be cognizant of the fact that business executives are the ones who tell the lawyers what to do, and not vice versa (except in the case of litigation directed at the company where litigation strategy is important).

     

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      iNtrigued (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:18am

      Re:

      Well, well, well... an intelligent AC for once.

      But I would ask where you found his original contact with the company. All I read was that he asked if they had an affiliate program. Which seems like a very reasonable and intelligent move on his part and along the lines of what you suggested he do. I don't see where you came up with the 'May I' line or were able to conclude he made poor initial contact.

      Please explain. Thanks.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:56am

        Re: Re:

        A quick search on Google gave a "whois" hit for the company. The whois data, coupled with a quick visit to the website, strongly suggests a very small company (the fact it is located in Modesto, CA does suggest likewise). I rather doubt it has even heard of a franchise program. Such an inquiry will in the vast majority of instances be viewed as a contract matter and referred over to the contract people, i.e., an in-house lawyer or an outside lawfirm.

        Never, ever direct any initial business inquiry in such a manner that it can be viewed as something that first needs to be run by the lawyers. This is the kiss of death.

        This was apparently a business matter and very well may have elicited a different response if it had been treated as such.

        As an attorney who has been called upon numerous times to counsel on business matters such as presented here, the first words out of my mouth have in most instances been "I will help guide you in the background, but you are the one responsible for conducting business and the last thing you want is to get me involved up front in a formal and public manner. If a deal is to be made, make it, define its general parameters, shake hands, and then let me draft a contract that comports with the deal."

        Business-savvy legal counsel set a goal of getting a client from Point A to Point B. Unfortunately, very few seem to understand that the purpose of business is to conduct business. Thus, is situations such as presented here their immediate knee-jerk reaction is to make a mountain out of a mole hill and recommend that the trip from A to B not even be undertaken. Small wonder that most lawyers are viewed as a necessary evil and not an integral part of the business team.

         

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          iNtrigued (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 12:27pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ah.. well in that case, it would have been smarter to ask for a meeting with them in regards to helping them increase their site traffic, as you suggested.

           

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      Lucretious, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:55am

      Re:

      First contact should have been to the CEO and along the lines of "I have means immediately at hand to direct more traffic to your site and raise its "brand" recognition to a larger base of potential users. Since you site is ad based, and since "hits" serve to enhance your business model and revenue, I would like to talk with you about how we can accomplish this for our mutual benefit."

      Yeah, god forbid the guy isn't versed in draconian corporate-speak. What was he thinking?

      One should always be cognizant of the fact that business executives are the ones who tell the lawyers what to do, and not vice versa

      except the entertainment industry where company attorneys filter every single concept and word to a point far beyond what the FCC rules require as a margin of "safety" against fines. For their contribution we get safe, bland non-offensive pap and management that is afraid to take chances on anything potentially edgy-but-entertaining.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 11:42am

        Re: Re:

        This isn't really corporate speak. It is just something you learn after a while. Unfortunately, the learning curve is sometimes painful.

        And, by the way, the almost ridiculous preoccupation by many lawyers with avoiding liability at all costs, even when it interferes with totally appropriate and legal business activities, is not at all limited to the entertainment industry. It arises in virtually every business situation where a lawyer may know something about the law, but hasn't a clue about what the business is and how it operates at every level.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:49am

    I, 12 above, neglected to mention I visited the website and entered the Zio Code 34786 (Windermere, FL...located in the Orlando metro area). There was no data available for all of the listed theaters. Sounds to me that the site could well use outside help to bolster its business plan.

     

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    C.T., Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:51am

    Re to Kazanjig

    Basic copyright law, huh?

    It is true that a sufficiently original arrangement is capable of making a work copyrightable, your analysis is completely misleading. First of all, in Feist the S. Ct. found that phonebooks are not copyrigtable because their arrangement (alphabetical) was not sufficiently original. It is likely, too, that a database of movie times would lack a sufficiently original arrangement to qualify for copyright protection.

     

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      Brooks (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:19am

      Re: Re to Kazanjig

      Indeed. Especially if the presentation to end users is different in almost any meaningful way (such as pretty HTML, paginated, different terminology, and so on).

       

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    Brandon, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:57am

    Websites Don't Pay

    "...newspapers get paid for movie listings, but websites have to pay for them? How does that work?"

    Not only do websites usually not have to pay for them, unless they hire some 3rd party service to find movie times for them, they usually get them for free. I used to be a manager at a movie theater for several years and even without giving them our showtimes, many sites such as Yahoo would somehow come up with our showtimes. Where they get them, I'm not sure, but certainly not directly from us. Maybe websites pay the big chains to print their showtimes, but I seriously doubt it.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:58am

    Easy to Explain

    Have you ever been to a movie that started at the listed time?

    Every movie I've been to starts from 14min to 45min after the listed time; hence the listed time and the movie time have no actual relation (aside from one usually precedes the other).

    Thus, movie times are a work of fiction, and therefore copyrightable. ;P

     

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      iNtrigued (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:28am

      Re: Easy to Explain

      Well then, I think I'll be writing a book with every possible movie time. So that every movie listing will have to pay me! Mwahahah!

      Oh, and movieshowtimes.com you can expect to NOT hear from my ninja lawyers; because by the time you hear from them you will have already lost EVERYTHING! hah.. hahah... mwahahaha!

       

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        iNtrigued (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:50am

        Re: Re: Easy to Explain

        And just be happy we don't send our ninja pirate lawyers after you because then.. Arrrgh-ll your booty would be plundered too! Because that's how we ninja pirates roll.

         

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      John Fenderson (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:31am

      Re: Easy to Explain

      "Thus, movie times are a work of fiction, and therefore copyrightable."

      It's Lobo Santo For The Win!!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 9:59am

    That site is just plain awful (at least in Mozilla).

    advban advrect goosky

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:00am

    Sounds a lot like the 90's when people started getting "Trademark" letters regarding their usernames or e-mail addresses.
    "Excuse me but I have a business called Cornholers Inc., we sell farm implements in Iowa. You therefore, under US law, are not allowed to use the name Cornholer on any online forum, and you must reliquish cornholer@hotmail.com over to us immediately or we will sue you and own your ass...and you know what we'll do with it then."

     

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    John Doe, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:01am

    So much for customer service

    So here is a guy wanting to hit their API for show times. The company makes money licensing said show times. So instead of inviting the guy into further discussion on becoming a licensed user, they threaten him with huge fines? I don't know where they learned their sales technique, but I don't think it works.

    If a guy contacts you about using your product, then he is worth talking to. If he does an end run around you then he would still be worth talking to in case he didn't realized he shouldn't be doing that. If he still doesn't cooperate, then whip out the lawyers.

     

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    rob, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:16am

    hm

    I would actually take up the suggestion to hire an IP lawyer to see if there is a case. If the claim is false then I would see if it would be possible to seek reimbursement for the hiring of a lawyer.

     

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    LoL, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Just collect the data.

    Trains and buses too is a funny trend.

     

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    JustMe, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    At least link over to a scan of the letter you got

    So we can make fun of the lawyer who wrote it.

     

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    LoL, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:49am

    Don't know about you guys...

    ...but I did never ask for permission to scrape data from somewhere. TV dates, movie dates, bus dates or any other kind of date. But I do acknowledge from where I get the info only when I do now it will not get me in trouble otherwise no link, no citation, no nothing.

    Sometimes I write bots other times if it is not much information I do it by hand. Who has never copy and paste something?

    By the way, there is no copyright notice or instructions in this site giving express permission to do so anywhere so this is one of the sites that if I didn't frequented the comments I would never cite or give due credits. Here is a thought, put right bellow the text the kind of restrictions you want people to now about it in a link CC Attribution 3.0 Unported example

     

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    Alan Gerow (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    If they make their data available through a public API, then I don't see where there is any misuse of their data. Whether or not the API is documented does not mean if it's public (security through obscurity is not security) ... they would have an authentication system in place for non-public API calls.

    And in their initial legal threat, what the hell does this mean:

    "You need to know it is unlawful and a violation of our copyright and intellectual property rights for you to build a system that obtains our content from any source other than to obtain an expressed license from West World Media for legal usage of our content."

    The sentence starts talking about their rights, and somehow in midsentence goes into talking about accessing a license for usage. It's not that this person needs IP law explained to them, but that the originating website needs to hire a lawyer that understands English. I know legalese is a different language, but at least it usually follows proper English sentence structures.

    If the website has a problem with this guy's app, they could close up their API and require an API key to access their data. Having a wide open API means they're giving access to their data away. If they come down on this developer, he should post their undocumented API for all the web to use, forcing the originating site to either sue hundreds of small-time web programmers ... or hire one of them to fix their system.

    Screen scraping a site for data and then reusing that isn't nearly as cut & dry, but c'mon ... it's an open API, what do they expect?!? That's what an API is for! So other systems can interact with your system. If your system is giving away too much information to the wrong people, then you should fix your system. Threatening a lawsuit to cover bad programming? Wow. Not very original, but still ... wow.

     

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    LoL, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 11:02am

    Possible solution for dev.

    Go modular, make one engine with variables in it and put those variables in an XML file so no one can accuse you of offering something from others or you can let people make small modules like the freepops and let other build modules and there is GCstar that get a lot of info from a range o diverse sources and I think they use the modular approach to.

     

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    LoL, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 11:11am

    Another solution.

    Make a website and start using the yellow pages to contact theaters directly and see if they want to put their schedules online and give them access to your database like TVdb except that TVdb is made by fans.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 11:26am

    Is MovieShowtimes.com the "major site" hosting the API? If not (and the article is not clear about this), then it seems like there is some miscommunication about what Jay wants to do ("linking back") with MovieShowtimes.com (since Jay's original letter wasn't posted, we can't be sure how it may have been read.) WWM may think he's scraping data from their site for his application's use, which is why they're crying foul.

     

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    Jay Anderson, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 11:30am

    Clarification on API

    I was the person who submitted the story.

    Let me clarify the situation with the API. There is a major site who has an undocumented API that allows you access showtimes, theater info, movie info, etc. For each showtime, some of them include links to buy tickets from MovieTickets.com. I inquired with MovieTickets.com to see whether or not they have an affiliate program (Fandango offers 10 cents per person you refer to buy movie tickets). West World Media supplies MovieTickets.com with the showtime info and my inquiry was forwarded to them, where I received the emails that Mike posted.

    So the feed is not directly from West World Media. It would be up to the third-party website that uses their data to shut it down. They just can't lock up the API because they don't control it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 11:41am

    I'm more confused now. Does the "major site who has an undocumented API that allows you access ..." have anything at all to do with West World Media? If not, why can't you take the movie showtime data and link to Fandango.com instead of MovieTickets.com

     

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    Jay Anderson, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 11:49am

    API Clarification...again

    I'm more confused now. Does the "major site who has an undocumented API that allows you access ..." have anything at all to do with West World Media? If not, why can't you take the movie showtime data and link to Fandango.com instead of MovieTickets.com

    The "major" site has nothing to do with West World Media. Your suggestion might be possible, but the feed coming from the "major" site already has the direct link to buy the movie tickets from MovieTickets.com for the specific day and showtime. I'm not sure if Fandango supports that.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 1:04pm

      Re: API Clarification...again

      The "major" site has nothing to do with West World Media. Your suggestion might be possible, but the feed coming from the "major" site already has the direct link to buy the movie tickets from MovieTickets.com for the specific day and showtime. I'm not sure if Fandango supports that.

      Any halfway-decent programmer would be able to strip the MovieTickets.com link from the feed and replace it with a link to Fandango.

       

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        Jason, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 2:56pm

        Re: Re: API Clarification...again

        "Any halfway-decent programmer would be able to strip the MovieTickets.com link from the feed and replace it with a link to Fandango."

        I've used the fandango program before and the links redirect to their homepage. There is no clear way to link to a specific showtime AND get credited for the link referral. I believe that's why Jay was contacting movietickets; their affiliate links would be more useful and therefore have a higher convert ratio.

         

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    RadialSkid, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 4:15pm

    I say just go ahead with the project as planned. They've got nothing, so just thumb your nose at them.

     

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    hmmm, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 3:16am

    Re : Can You Copyright Movie Times?

    The point that everyone misses is that he only sent a letter asking them!!! And that's the nasty reply he got back. Not exactly a friendly response is it ? it's a bit like asking somebody if they take sugar in their coffee and them attacking you for saying it. It's just crazy.....

     

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    Lachlan Hunt (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 6:00am

    Huh? I don't understand why the company would respond like that to what seemed like a legitmate request to work with them. Although you didn't quote the messages that Jay Anderson had written to them, so it's hard to know for sure, but based on your summary, asking about what affiliate programs they offer in order to use their APIs seems like it would be a legitmate request to work with them legally, rather than simply "stealing" from them.

     

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    AnnonymTo, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:13pm

    I have dealt with this same issue myself, and similar legal issues regarding websites, data, and IP, and I find it very interesting that I have found this thread, along with numerous similar ones, and a fair number of closed down websites that could potentially have served to greatly promote the movie industry.

    I think that one point worthy of note here is "How do lawyers make their money?"

    In some ways, they are a lot like doctors, where a certain type of specialist is always going to say that the inability to lose or gain weight is "glandular", for example, because they make their money prescribing meds and performing procedures in that discipline.

    An IP lawyer is paid a monthly or otherwise periodic retainer from a company such as "Some World Media". They have their paralegals spend a little down time every month trolling the web for something that may be deemed "infringement", do the appropriate whois lookups, and send out a few threatening C&D's every month, and receive a certain amount of scared, tearful responses from programmers that have taken down the websites they created in their spare time to capture the interest of users who share their passion for movies, or any other aggregate information that "Some World Media" feels they own. "Some World Media" is made privvy to these replies, sees the websites disappearing, feels "protected" by the law firm, and continues to pay their periodic retainer fees. On some occassions, a certain percentage of these C&D notices may turn into actual suits, more billable hours, and possible settlement fees, i.e.: more money for the lawyers.

    In our current legal system, especially when it comes to something as subjective and open to interpretation as "Intellectual Property", judgements have less to do with actual justice than with who has the most time and money resources to mount a legal battle or hire the best law firm.

    Sad but true, if you receive a C&D, pro'ly best to just do it. Don't argue, don't fight, unless you can afford the tens-of-thousands dollar price tag "true" justice seems to carry these days.

    If you are a lawyer and would like to respond to this post saying that your industry actually does provide some form of service to society, aside from sucking billions yearly out of our already ailing economy, don't even try it! Shakespeare said it best!

     

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    Dele, Sep 7th, 2010 @ 9:31pm

    Movie Showtimes

    This is one of the craziest things I ever heard. As one of the earlier responses indicates, it's probably more of a business model issue than a copyright issue.

    Jay, were you ever able to find a movie showtimes provider? If so, whom?

     

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