Judiciary Committee To Quiz Justin.tv About Live Streaming, Piracy And Sporting Events

from the this-won't-end-well dept

A year ago, we noted that the rise of Justin.tv and other “live streaming” services was going to put some pressure on things like exclusive “broadcasting” deals for sporting events. Already, some sports leagues have threatened live streaming sites. For the most part, rather than looking for ways to use this to their advantage and to recognize that fans are helping promote these events, the sports leagues have been freaking out, because all they see is that multi-million dollar exclusive broadcasting rights contracts may be harder to come by.

And, when big entertainment operations feel threatened, who do they turn to? Congress of course. The House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing about “piracy” of live sporting events, and have asked the CEO of Justin.tv to come defend himself. This will not end well. These sorts of hearings are not about actually hearing all sides of an issue to better understand them. They’re usually for show, so that some politicians can scold some company they don’t like, and then push legislation forward that favors their campaign supporters.

Justin.tv should have a clear DMCA defense here — and that’s what the company appears to be planning to express. But, my guess is that Congress won’t care very much. Rather than differentiate between users and platforms or technologies, they’ll claim that this is “A Problem” that needs to be “Solved.”

But is it really? The ability to “live stream” is something that’s almost entirely brand new, and it really does change the way people can interact. But, live streaming will almost always create some sort of “copyright infringement” or “piracy,” which suggests the real problem isn’t with live streaming, but with copyright laws. The sports leagues and entertainment companies are freaked out for the same reason they’re always freaked out. This new technology, which allows many wonderful things, also takes away their control, and it’s that control that they use to set up artificial barriers, which is what they use to claim monopoly rents. Basically, their markets are being changed by new technologies, and rather than realizing there are ways to embrace that, they instead are running to Congress to try to break the technology.

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Companies: justin.tv

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Comments on “Judiciary Committee To Quiz Justin.tv About Live Streaming, Piracy And Sporting Events”

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20 Comments
Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

please explain the DMCA defense in this case.

Basically they will take down any infringing stream on request so they don’t have to pre-filter the content (basically not possible anyway)

Really the only “solution” to this “problem” would be to shut down all user generated live streaming services completely.

Otherwise all you can do istake down streams that have been identified.

Plus there is another problem. Sports events are not of themselves copyrighted. The coverage generated by broadcaster is but a user shot stream is copyrighted to the user. The sports venue can evict them from the ground – but if they film from a tall building near the ground then it is perfectly legal.

Claiming copyright on a sports event itself would be equivalent to admitting it was “like a dramatic performance” which implies — rigged!

Brooks (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s dishonest in a few ways. The copyright being asserted is over the broadcast stream, not the sporting event itself. You’re intentionally conflating CBS’ interest in protecting their revenue with the facts-not-copyrightable fair use defense.

Also, Justin.tv, much as I love them, doesn’t take down infringing content. I watched MNF on the service yesterday, and it was (at the time) the most popular live stream on Justin.tv. For several hours. I imagine that’s the case every Monday night.

I do think Justin.tv has some legitimate section 230 defense, but the fact is that they turn a pretty blind eye towards the content on the service, and the majority of their top feeds *are* unauthorized transmissions of copyrighted content. You can defend that, they can defend that, but to claim complete innocence and surprise is going to come across as disingenuous to anyone who’s actually used the service.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Also, Justin.tv, much as I love them, doesn’t take down infringing content.

How do you know that?

watched MNF on the service yesterday, and it was (at the time) the most popular live stream on Justin.tv. For several hours. I imagine that’s the case every Monday night.

The DMCA has no proactive requirement to enforce. Only in response to a takedown. Do you have any evidence that it received a takedown and ignored it, or are you making stuff up?

I do think Justin.tv has some legitimate section 230 defense

It sure does, but we’re talking about the DMCA, not the CDA.

but the fact is that they turn a pretty blind eye towards the content on the service, and the majority of their top feeds *are* unauthorized transmissions of copyrighted content

Again, the DMCA does not require proactive analysis of content, for a very good reason. Otherwise, the company would need to hire a huge team of people in charge of monitoring all usage. That’s ridiculous.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“That’s dishonest in a few ways. The copyright being asserted is over the broadcast stream, not the sporting event itself. You’re intentionally conflating CBS’ interest in protecting their revenue with the facts-not-copyrightable fair use defense.”
No it isn’t dishonest in any way. I admitted that the feed from the official coverage is copyright I just pointed out that it is possible to have a stream of a sports event that is not copyrighted to either the official broadcaster or the sports authorities.

“Also, Justin.tv, much as I love them, doesn’t take down infringing content. “

They claim that they do at least “on request” as I said – so unless you have personally requested that something be taken down and it hasn’t then you have no evidence that they don’t.

Maybe the originators of the particular streams you mention have an enlightened attitude and don’t mind.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Mike, please explain the DMCA defense in this case.

The DMCA makes clear that if you are a service provider, have officially registered your DMCA info with the US gov’t, and respond diligently to DMCA takedown notices — all of which Justin.tv has done — then you are not liable for the actions of your users.

Anonymous Coward says:

“but also point out that it’s been cooperating with rights holders above and beyond the letter of the law to block and take down illicit content.”

http://newteevee.com/2009/12/15/house-committee-takes-on-live-streaming-piracy/

and for the most part this is true. One must realize that intellectual property was never about benefiting society or the artists or inventors, intellectual property maximists have always been interested in monopolizing everything and destroying anything that competes with their monopolies. Their main goal is to destroy anything that competes with them and live streaming competes with the cable and content monopolies, those who have unethically gained a government sanctioned monopoly on the cableco/telco infrastructure to ensure that anything easily accessible outside the Internet is only available at monopoly prices. and their goal is not to help the artist or anything like that, it’s to do the same exact thing within the Internet, to ensure that everything within the Internet is ONLY available at monopoly prices to the advantage of the evil rich people who have acquired their wealth by acting less ethically than everyone else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Justin.tv has been signing up rights holders for its Copyright Protection System that allows them to automatically take down content on their own without filing formal DMCA notices, and the company recently started to roll out its video fingerprinting in cooperation with Vobile to proactively block infringing content. Fox has been using this technology ever since Justin.tv launched in November, and NBC recently tested the system for the NFL’s Sunday Night Football game, according to Justin.tv. The company claims to be in negotiations with other broadcasters as well.”

(same link).

Again, these people run a legitimate business, but their only crime is that they compete with the illegitimate businesses of those who lobby Congress the most.

Bob says:

Sad, but..

THe other day I was trying to find a stream of a game that I can’t get where I am (Lions vs Ravens) and I could **NOT** find one. I checked justin.tv and ustream but all I found were broken streams or ones that were just pure spam. Seriously, ustream was loaded with streams that were SPAM – they just showed images that contained a URL, and that URL was hawking cracked Sat TV cards or some fake software.

I tried to buy the Sunday Ticket, but I have FIOS TV – and DirecTV has the exclusive on the Sunday Ticket. 🙁

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