Broadcasters To Sue Time Warner Cable For Making It Easier For People To See Their Shows & Ads

from the say-what-now? dept

Time-shifting and place-shifting content you are authorized to access is legal, but so many content providers still hate that. Apparently, the TV broadcasters are up in arms and about to sue Time Warner Cable for offering subscribers an iPad app that lets them watch some TV channels via the device. There are a whole bunch of limitations on this device. You have to be a subscriber to Time Warner Cable TV and to Time Warner Cable’s broadband service. You can only use it if you’re on your home WiFi connection, and it only offers 30 channels. Since it’s limited to the home and only to subscribers, this seems like even less than just setting up another TV in your house. This is certainly less than what, say, a Slingbox would let you do. Variety quotes a TV exec claiming that they have to sue, because they “have a chance to win.” As Karl Bode points out in the first link above:

There’s a certain genius at work when you think you “win” by suing a company that is putting your content and ads in front of not only a broader audience, but people who are already paying a significant amount of money to view it.

We live in bizarre times.

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Companies: time warner cable

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Comments on “Broadcasters To Sue Time Warner Cable For Making It Easier For People To See Their Shows & Ads”

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Jay says:

Re: Re: Re:

I don’t see how I have to justify my questions to you.

If you want to see my profiles, You can look through all 1400+. Have fun since some are looking for answers to questions, some are rebuttals to arguments and all show how I feel about the various copyright clauses discussed here.

What’s truly astounding is how you, an AC, want to say I add nothing of value to a conversation when you actually throw attacks out for no other reason than to derail the question put forth.

But of course, if someone wants to comment, they’re more than free to. If you don’t like it, Door’s to your left

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You were asking why you don’t get answers to some of your questions here and on Copyhype. Let me be the one to tell you: It’s because you sound like a nut job and you aren’t saying anything that’s worth responding to. Sorry to have to break it to you like this, but I believe in tough love.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“You were asking why you don’t get answers to some of your questions here and on Copyhype. Let me be the one to tell you: It’s because you sound like a nut job and you aren’t saying anything that’s worth responding to. Sorry to have to break it to you like this, but I believe in tough love.”

In that case, let ME be the one to break it to YOU that this is an open forum for discussion and not everyone brings the same level of knowledge on every single aspect of the topics discussed here as everyone else. I, for instance, have some knowledge of the publishing world. I also know security technology. I came here knowing dick about patents, but because the community was nice enough to educate me (on both sides of the debate), I’m now more knowledgeable.

So, the lesson here is that all questions are of value to either the asker or the askee and in the time you spent pretending like anyone cares what you thought of Jay’s question could have been better spent answering it if you think it’s so silly.

So maybe take a couple of moments to stop being a douche nozzle and contribute, as we welcome you to….

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“So maybe take a couple of moments to stop being a douche nozzle and contribute, as we welcome you to….”

I think that’s a little unfair. Seriously, I mean any nozzle, by definition, is there to “contribute”. Without the nozzle, a douche would simply spray all over the place and not get the job done (a statement that could be describing the problem the douche is there to fix).

Let’s not be hasty with our metaphors.

Stuart says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

To be fair though Jay it was a stupid question.
Hulu is licensed. They have permission. It is a completely different animal.

Kind of like asking why a bank robber got arrested and you did not when you withdrew $40.00 from your checking account.

Not that I agree that suing someone for making you richer is a good idea. Its just that I think you did not give any thought whatsoever to the subject before posting.

Maybe you should have a few less posts and a few more thoughts.

pringerX (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Why not sue Hulu for offering the shows for free?”

I believe the correct term is a rhetorical question. I’d like to believe that Jay is being sarcastic, given that he is a Techdirt regular. (Love your profile pic by the way!) Also, using an ad hominem attack in a debate is like invoking Godwin’s Law. As soon as you resort to it, you have already lost.

Jay says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I want to be clear on this. The question was meant more in irony because of how the broadcasters are taking the path of least resistance to sue someone for making their product more valuable.

It made no sense to sue over an app and if they want to shoot fish in a barrel, they should sue hulu for doing that same thing.
Note to self: remember to put irony quotes for others…

Regarding the ac, I believe that’s the same abrasive one that wanted to launch an abrasive verbal tirade from copyhype. If so, then no, still not interested in ad hominem attacks. If you want to debate, feel free to do so.

Stuart, I have been a guest on this site for some time. I ask questions to come to my own conclusions. I would rather ask a question than say nothing and suffer in silence.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

He’s more than just obvious, he’s notorious. And while combatting his protohuman-grade logic can be frustrating, messing with his clearly unbalanced psyche can be fun. It’s like playing chess against one of the dumber monkeys: the game isn’t going to make much sense, but damned if you wouldn’t watch a video of it.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“And while combatting his protohuman-grade logic can be frustrating”

The funny thing about these sorts of trolls is that if you’re responding to every one of their posts in an entirely reasonable manner then all they can do is waste more time by responding to you. The more incessantly reasonable you are, the more pointless their antics become because the only ‘positive outcome’ they can get is by confusing other people. The time they waste of yours is paid for by their own time and the longer the conversation goes on the worse it is for them because they have to put more effort into making stuff up while you have to put less effort into pointing out their errors.

Of course, it’s still no fun to have your time wasted even if they’re wasting theirs, but hopefully they eventually find something more constructive to do. If it’s frustrating to respond to them then it must be doubly frustrating for them to have the added effort of making stuff up.

Planespotter (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Well at least you can get to read all his posts and see what he believes all kept nice and neat in his Profile, opposed to cowards like you who can throw out any old garbage day in day out without having to be held accountable…

Do you think that the majority of the readers take many contributions by ACs seriously? Some are worth reading, others… meh!

Anonymous Coward says:

If Time Warner is actually willing to fight this lawsuit, it will likely be another meaningful loss for TV broadcasters. This is possibly the most restrictive plan I’ve seen recently (one that won’t benefit a lot of people because of the fairly large restrictions). Because of these restrictions, I would be surprised if Time Warner actually will lose the case, thereby further receding the control that broadcasters are trying to impose.

Perhaps that was TW’s plan from the beginning – test float a really restrictive program just to see if someone would push back (thereby creating some precedent in the courts for different media distribution possibilities).

Anonymous Coward says:

You can only use it if you’re on your home WiFi connection

Since it’s limited to the home and only to subscribers

Another case Mike where you are selective with your opinions to try to make a point. If it’s on WiFi, and WiFi is somehow not secure enough to stop people from getting on it, how can it be limited to subscribers? What stops the guy next door from jacking the TV stream?

Is WiFi limited to your house only? If it is, why do all the people caught pirating stuff point to their wireless unit and say SODDI?

Remember, most of the broadcasters have deals in place with the cable companies that pay them based on the number of subscribers. The last think they want is their programming being blasted out for free over WiFi.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

No, but in Mike’s world, when it comes to piracy, WiFi is wide open and broadcasts everywhere. When it comes to this case, WiFi remarkably restricts itself to “inside the home”. I want to know how WiFi units know the difference and control their transmissions based on the source. Mike seems to think they are magical this way.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I want to know how WiFi units know the difference and control their transmissions based on the source.

They don’t, and yet somehow people manage to have private accounts on millions of web sites, email servers and other services that only they can access. You’re right, restricting access to only authorized users is magic!

After all, it’s not as if such a TV app would come with any kind of restrictions, or require a user to create a secure account before being able to watch streaming channels.

I’m sure that sending the completely unencrypted streams to a specific IP address is the only form of security they’ll use…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Rekrul, you just missed the point. If WiFi (and all that) is so secure and all the stuff so restricted to one user, why can Mike and his merry band all claim SODDI when it comes to piracy?

Either it is restricted to the home and doesn’t go outside, or it is wide open and subject to hacking and illegal access. You don’t think that this TV app won’t be equally hackable? Come on.

Berenerd (profile) says:


Perhaps for a moment, try and think of this rationally and not as a “BASHBASHBASHBASH MIKE” senerio, you might realize the two items are very different.

Sure, if an AP is unsecured, anyone can get on and pirate things. Even if an AP is secured, it can be broken into. When you add in the password and encryption into the deal not every joe shmoe is gonna have access to it. Those that do gain access either have permission or are up to something nefarious and are quite smarter than the home user and wouldn’t care to break into their system to watch…TV… Seriously, did you get your education from a crackerjacks box or fruitloops?

vivaelamor (profile) says:


“I really don’t understand why there hasn’t been an IP ban put into place on this idiot.”

I would suggest that IP bans rely on a) people having static IPs (not as much of an issue as it was with dialup, admittedly). And b) services like Tor being blocked.

Both are problematic. Even static IPs tend to be changeable unless assigned and while blocking Tor should be relatively simple, there are countless open proxies out there for people who are inclined to abuse them.

Trails (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You believe they’re suing because someone might “jack the stream”?

Sorry, even discounting your “Lawnmower man”-grade jargon, that’s preposterous. Even if the wifi is unencrypted (certainly likely to be some users on unencrypted wifi), the content can be, and most likely will be. Cracking HTTPS is no small feat, it usually requires a very sophisticated attack against core internet infrastructure. The attacker must actually compromise hardware upstream from the user.

As to handing out passwords, etc…, they are ways to deal with that too: one active session per user at a time, detect ipad identification(serial number or whatnot), lock to itunes account, etc…

Really, what you’re talking about re: people who’s ip is “identified” for uploading content is very different. It’s about uploading, not intercepting downloads or spoofing identity. It’s apples and oranges. What you’re positing makes no technical sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Trails, they point is that when it is convenient for Mike, WiFi is incredibly insecure, easily hacked, and easily used by anyone (justification for piracty, I think). On the other side, when it suits him better, WiFi is “limited to the home”.

My point isn’t to get into a complex technical discussion, I am only trying to point out the absolutely absurd contradiction in Mike’s post.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

No, it isn’t to “attack Mike”, it’s to point out that much of the basis of the story (and his objections to it) are based on ignoring his own posts and opinions in the past about WiFi, because they wouldn’t suit his attempt to slam the “broadcasters”.

What is “Nice” is that you don’t seem to care when Mike talks out of both sides of his mouth.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Open wifi is easy for anyone to use and view non-encrypted content that passes through it. But it’s not easy for people to view encrypted content that passes through it. Why is this difficult for you to understand? There are situations when Wifi can be secure, but it’s not always secure if no one makes an effort to secure it.

Garrett says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Dude, no. I can see where your train of thought is coming from, ie people “hacking” into a random wifi signal to download things. But that has to do with random (possibly) unsecured signals and how tracing a connection back using JUST an IP is not always accurate.

In this case, its a direct connection between a specific app on a specific device through a specific router following specific IPs and encrytion. Just because it uses wifi as part of that chain doesn’t mean what you think it means. You could write your router password in soap on your window, but without your specific ipad, no one is watching anything.

athe says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Do you not understand the difference between router (wifi) layer security and application layer security? Just because someone can hack onto your router doesn’t mean jack for application security.

Seriously, get to understand the differences in security that people are talking about, then come back and talk to us…

Planespotter (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

nope… just because something possibly could happen doesn’t mean it will.

I don’t see any relevance in your aguing that they wish to sue TW over streaming content because somneone else on wifi might be able to view the content by accessing an improperly secured router or access point. Given that TW wish to monetise their offering I’d imagine that they will secure the stream to a device in one way or another, it’s going to an iPad remember, nothing to say it isn’t tied to teh iTunes account.

To me this is simply a money grab on the part of the broadcaster, someone who has paid once for the priviledge to air their content has found a way to monetise it again and offer it as an addition product with offeruning the broadcaster any more money… poor ‘ickle content manufacturer, nasty mean TW.

Trails (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Wifi is potentially incredibly insecure, easily hacked, and easily used by anyone.

Wifi is not limited to the home. (I haven’t heard Mike make this claim, if he has, pls link as I’d be interested to see statement in context).

Regardless, there is no contradiction. There are ways to lockdown the data even assuming unsecured Wifi. The means to do this are at the discretion of TW, and one can safely assume they will be used(because there is reason to use them and no reason not to).

What you are presenting as a contradiction is in fact only a contradiction if you do not understand the underlying technology you speak of. Having a correct understanding of the technologies, I can assure you there is no contradiction.

Garrett says:

Re: Re: Re:

Agreed. I can be 99% certain in assuming that when setting the app up, it creates a profile all the way back up the chain….IPs, MAC addresses, serial numbers. This is probably why a TW broadband subscription is needed as well.

And after all that, its just an encryted data stream to the device. Not “blasting” out programming from your router.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“how can it be limited to subscribers?”

Because the content is still only available through a TWC connection? you’re making an unfair comparison.

Mike’s statement is perfectly valid. If someone doesn’t get TWC for internet access and TV then they can’t get stream the shows over a non TWC internet connection. WiFi hacking won’t change that fact at all. The content would still only be available over that TWC connection.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What is this the day of the idiots?

Anyone can stream TV content through WiFi they don’t actually need Warner Bros to do it.


Just buy a TV card or a TV with WiFi enabled.

Now for the topic, this one is just marvelous it doesn’t matter who win all corporations loose LoL

Anonymous Coward says:

The issue is ad revenue. Neilsen ratings don’t reflect programs streamed to devices, so the network’s pricing for advertisements isn’t accurate.

Of course, rather than stay behind the times, the networks should be putting pressure on Neilsen to change their rating mechanisms. This is only going to get worse for them as more people drop traditional set top box viewing.

rangda (profile) says:

Re: ad revenue

I agree that the issue is ad revenue, however I’m not so sure the networks want the current system to change (even if they think they do). If Neilsen started tracking how many people actually watch ads on a channel (instead of what channels people watch) ad revenue might plummet.

As an example if I’m going to watch something on TV (a rarity these days) I’ll DVR it specifically so I can skip the ads. Even sports, I’ll start watching a game 90 min into it so I can skip all of the ads. I have to assume that other people do this.

Anonymous Coward says:

We need to disbar the FCC and remove the govt imposed monopolies that broadcasters wrongfully benefit from. Public airwaves rightfully belong to the public, not to corporate interests, and anyone should have a right to transmit, receive, record, copy, distribute, modify, and distribute modified content from and on those signals. These corporations are no more entitled to broadcast on these frequencies than I am and the government has no business selling my broadcasting rights away for me.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

sad part is, from my outsider’s perspective anyway, that is actually supposed to be the correct responce on the part of american citizens to a government that has become opressive and is stripping their liberties in the interests of the elite few.

of course, it’ll never Happen, at least not in a useful way, because those in a position to enact it are those who benifit from it not happening. meh *shrugs*

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Public airwaves rightfully belong to the public, not to corporate interests, and anyone should have a right to transmit, receive, record, copy, distribute, modify, and distribute modified content from and on those signals.

I’d rather be able to reliably listen to my favorite radio station, rather than wondering if my neighbor will suddenly decide to start broadcasting his favorite polka tunes on the same frequency. IMO restrictions on broadcasting makes the spectrum more useful. I’m sure there are improvements that can be made, but removing all the rules is not one of them.

Christopher Gizzi (profile) says:

Reasonable Response

Forgetting that consumers actually want this convenience, Time Warner is doing the reasonable thing for everyone involved.

The networks are adding their shows on Hulu at no cost to the consumer. The stations are offering their content over the internet for free, as well. Time Warner doesn’t get anything but their internet fees which people would likely pay for without these services. Therefore, they face a risk that people will cut the cord and go internet only.

Except if they offer their channels on mobile devices they can help add value to their cord option and keep customers paying. I know several TW customers in NYC who want this type of offering – otherwise, they can just go to any Starbucks and stream shows over their internet and have food and coffee while doing so.

So Time Warner’s streaming plans help everyone and it’s a reasonable response. Consumers get yet another way of viewing content. Time Warner doesn’t lose business from cord cutters.** And the networks can still show ads for their channels and content.

** And cord cutting *WILL* happen. It’s just a matter of time. It’s what people want and as traditional broadcasting revenue shifts around, so will the availability of content. The viewers have the dollars and networks/advertisers chase them. If people have to give their money to some other venue to get what they want, the traditional producers & deliverers will run after them and offer the services they want to pay for.

Robert P (profile) says:

Xfinity and ABC do this better

Comcasts Xfinity app for the iPad does a marginally better job than the description of Time Warner’s app in that you can watch a lot more shows. Same other restrictions apply (be a subscriber, be on your home wifi). I wonder why they’re upset with Time Warner and not Comcast?

Meanwhile, ABC is just doing it themselves with their own app, which also works great (and as far as I know requires no subscription, no “your own wifi”, etc.) They do show commercials that can’t be skipped. I haven’t played this aspect of it yet, but I understand you can also watch a TV show live (it’s supposed to sync itself with the broadcast) so you can do even more stuff, like take surveys or vote on characters or something. That seems like the right way to go (for ABC). Get people interested in doing other things with the show, they then watch it live and so are exposed to the commercials.

Wifezilla (profile) says:

You have content creators, distributors (networks), advertisers that foot the bill and then the consumer. As the barriers from creators to consumers crumble, the distributors, instead of adding value to the consumer (like ease of access to content), have tried to become road blocks and force consumers to continue to come to them. What they are really doing is contributing to their own demise as consumers actively seek other ways to get content. Instead of a road block, they are just a shrinking speed bump…or more like a flattened squirrel.

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