YouTube Joins Hulu In Letting Content Holders Block Access For TV-Connected Devices

from the but-why? dept

We’ve already covered how Hulu has blocked Boxee and the PS3 from showing video content — even though all they’re really doing is using a different browser — one that lives on your TV — to access the same content you can freely access on your computer. techflaws.org writes in to let us know that users of a Western Digital media center recently discovered that the latest upgrade — driven in large part by Google/YouTube demands — added some features, but also began blocking content that the content creator deems “not available” for mobile phones or TV. Now it’s not clear how long YouTube has offered this functionality — just that it appears WD has just enabled it — but it’s pissing off some users, understandably.

After all, if it’s just a browser, why should the content creators care — and why is Google helping them out in this regard? The line is blurring between various devices anyway and setting a special toggle that lets users block access to videos seen in a perfectly legal fashion on different types of devices seems pretty backwards. It’s too bad Google even makes this an option — and that anyone actually pays attention to it.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: google, hulu, western digital, youtube

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Comments on “YouTube Joins Hulu In Letting Content Holders Block Access For TV-Connected Devices”

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41 Comments
Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’ve had a PC connected to a TV in my living room since the late 90s. Back then it was a 27″ CRT based TV.

Nowadays it’s easier since most TVs have HDMI/DVI and D-sub connections. There are so many people trying to get MKV files played on their TV. There are no hardware hacks with a PC. You just play ’em. When some new format comes out, you don’t wait for firmware update, you just play ’em.

I’m surprised more people aren’t doing this. It’s certainly not the noise, my Xbox 360 is louder than any PC I’ve ever had. It sounds like a fricken vacuum!

Modplan (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They simply block specific applications like boxee mentioned in the article. A lot of people don’t just hook their PC or whatever to the TV as is, they use media centre software, which presumably has its own recognisable method due to trying to get the stream as is without Hulu’s own player or based on what gets reported back by the sort-of-browser when it access the site.

Which is even more dumbfounding, as in both instances you’re using a PC – it really is a stupid fuss over just a different screen and tailor made software.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m not really sure this is really going to be a viable option in the long term. You can get a mobile phone these days that plugs into your TV and labels itself as desktop firefox. If this practice of blocking “mobile” or “tv” browsers becomes common, I’m pretty sure that more mobile and set top devices will start adding this functionality (Other than Apple products of course¡).

inc (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They User-Agent is defined when as part of the request the client makes to the server in the HTTP protocol. It is optional and can even be left out. If the server requests it then you will get an error. I was able to get the hulu home page without a User-Agent.

telnet hulu.com 80
Trying 63.150.131.11…
Connected to hulu.com.
Escape character is ‘^]’.
GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: http://www.hulu.com

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: nginx
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Status: 200 OK

I could even use my own User-Agent.

telnet hulu.com 80
Trying 69.22.138.131…
Connected to hulu.com.
Escape character is ‘^]’.
GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: http://www.hulu.com
User-Agent: Not Boxee

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: nginx
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Status: 200 OK

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Chrome is the word

Probably not since they’re talking about specialized media center hardware or software. It’s the fact that it’s not being displayed in one of the major general purpose web browsers that the content creators are wanting to block.

They’re not blocking IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Opera … they’re blocking media-centric hardware & software that is designed to make the web video viewing experience more TV-like.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Chrome is the word

They’re not blocking IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Opera … they’re blocking media-centric hardware & software that is designed to make the web video viewing experience more TV-like.

You mean like Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition?

Oh, wait…
They’re not blocking that, are they?

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Chrome is the word

So, the original comment starts implying that Google is giving Chrome preference because Chrome will show YouTube videos.

But then counters by using MS MCE as an example of media-center software still able to view YouTube?

Wow.

Debate fail.

But to answer your point, it’s because the content creators haven’t rallied to get MCE on the list of devices to block with the YouTube option that they (not Google) turn on per video.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Chrome is the word

But to answer your point, it’s because the content creators haven’t rallied to get MCE on the list of devices to block with the YouTube option that they (not Google) turn on per video.

How do you know that? (And if they haven’t, why not?) Do you have a reliable source for that assertion or are you just making stuff up? (That would be dishonest.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Chrome is the word

I can see your point, you’re saying that this is focused toward traditional media center software verse computer browser software. I would bet you dollars to doughnuts (frosted ones) that Chrome/Android will be Google’s media center, possibly cloud style, offering in the next few years. I would put forth that Google is conducting a similar campaign to Microsoft’s campaign against Netscape. If you recall, MS used their behemoth operation to make it very difficult for Netscape (Boxee) to compete with them.

They have a built in content base with YouTube and are obviously guarding it. It will be easy for them to build/contract other content streams and what better way to control the game than to be the de facto media center software provider? Don’t tell me they haven’t thought of this, I won’t believe you if you do.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: "Do no evil"

Actually this hurts Google’s profits, because that’s less devices to show their ads on. Remember: Google wants to be on every device, it’s how they make money.

It’s the content creators that are instigating the evil. Google just gave them the noose to do it, and shares in the hanging, but it’s the content creators that are pulling the rope.

Aaron Martin-Colby (profile) says:

Bah

YouTube’s been blocking access to lots of videos in their mobile version for a long time, now. Music is the most frequent culprit, but sometimes it’s weird stuff.

Preventing me from listening to Madonna makes sense (sort of), at least insofar as stopping me from listening to the music on my cell phone will force me to buy the CD, as their logic goes.

But totally random shit like “Powerthirst” won’t show up in the mobile version.

Of course, this doesn’t stop me at all. I just open SkyFire and view the videos with that. It doesn’t stop me. Hell, it doesn’t even make it more difficult. It just pisses me off.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Net-Neutrality

For those opposed to net neutrality regulation the ability to block content is the unintended and unspoken consequence.

Those opposed to net neutrality regulation talk in terms of the engineering need to manage the network, which is a legitimate concern. However, they disingenuously avoid discussing that their desire to be free from regulation is NOT really about the engineering but a management issue; the ability of management to control the distribution of content for any reason and for whatever business purpose management decides.

KGWagner (profile) says:

Script blockers

I suspect the reason to any of these dingbats wants you to use specific viewers is so they can track your behavior. If they let you use whatever browser you want, usage data may not get back to them because their scripts get intercepted or blocked.

It’s the only thing that makes sense. None of these guys develop viewers to make the users happy – why would they? There are a jillion of them out there already. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel, especially when you consider what it costs to do so. But, if you consider that they develop viewers to make themselves happy from a control and data collection standpoint, then you can see a motivation.

Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Asus O!Play too?

The latest firmware for the Asus O!Play has fully developed YouTube streaming capabilities. Unfortunately, it looks like they decided to disable this functionality at the last second, as the necessary sections for the config file are just commented out.

Fortunately, it’s easily fixed. The config files are just XML, so you just have to make the partition read/write. There is a community for this at http://www.minimodding.com.

monte says:

youtube bluetooth audio

when i try to watch a video on youtube mobile with my headset, i now get a message that says (bluetooth headset not compatible with this type audio), and some vidios are now (not availible on mobile). i thought there was somthing wrong with my stuff. nope, my headphones work with other websites streaming media so youtube must be blocking it. THATS BULL#@$T!

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