MPAA Kills More Innovation; Zediva Shut Down Permanently

from the what-you-have-to-look-forward-to-under-e-parasite dept

Keith alerts us to the unfortunate and premature death of Zediva, an innovative startup that sought to make it easier for people to rent movies and make money for Hollywood. But in true Hollywood fashion, they killed it — just like they wanted to kill the VCR a couple decades ago. Zediva, if you don’t recall, let people rent movies remotely. It would load them up in a DVD player that you could log into. It legitimately bought the DVDs and used them just as you would at home if you rented a DVD and brought it home. The only real difference here was that the DVD player was at a central location, rather than your home. In a very weird ruling, a court determined that the length of the cord determines if something is infringing.

Such a totally nonsensical ruling should be ripe for appeal… but appeals cost money, and who’s going to invest in a company shut down by a court? So, Zediva has capitulated and “settled.” MPAA gets to hang another destroyed innovation on its mantle.

If you want to get a sense of the future under E-PARASITE/SOPA: this is it. Except it’s even worse. Chris Dodd and the MPAA won’t even need to go to court, they can just send a single notice to the payment processor for Zediva, and the plug would be pulled. Dead. Basically, the law would let the luddites at the MPAA simply kill off any new service they don’t like or don’t understand. And unless those companies have a dozen lawyers at their disposal, they’re going to stay dead. Just like Zediva. Another bit of innovation killed by the MPAA. What a legacy the MPAA is leaving behind.

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Companies: mpaa, zediva

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Comments on “MPAA Kills More Innovation; Zediva Shut Down Permanently”

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63 Comments
hothmonster says:

Re: Re: Re: Bright side

“Pure democracy: a sheep and two wolves voting on what’s for lunch”

Obviously whats for lunch is whichever wolf can’t convince the sheep to vote with it against the other wolf. Then the next day the remaining wolf eats the sheep without a vote, then the next day he is left to start eating his own limbs.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Bright side

Chris Dodd doesn’t see that. He wants the technology sector to fight his war against consumers.

Though Wednesday?s address once again outlined the economic costs of piracy, it was also an appeal for help. The former U.S. senator said that the tech and entertainment sectors face an uphill battle to change popular attitudes about the dangers of piracy.

So after all of the research, after all of the professors have had their say, the entrepreneurs, the artists themselves, and the tech that made the internet, it’s taking TWO industries the price of a few lobbyists and bought politicians to destroy all of the work to create a commons of global proportions.

If it weren’t so sickening, it’d be maddening.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Bright side

E-PARASITE/SOPA
If they the assholes of Washington pass this piece of toilet paper I call for open warfare on the Internet.I call for millions of people world-wide to rise and hack/take down every website constantly from these asshole traitors of the American Way of Freedom.there should be a price to pay for screwing around with the livelihoods of millions of us.
They want to take away our freedom then we need to make them pay for that move.I hope so.And I hope it pisses enough people off out there that some real Anarchy occurs.It would be lovely to go to http://www.disney.com and see X Rated movies playing on their stie,etc,etc,etc, a million times.
I HATE MY GOVERNMENT !!! I have absolutely no respect for you asshole money taking power hungry Politicians.We are 99% and you are a piece of shit if you sign our freedom away for the price of a few bucks.
And you will pay for not all of the USA are stupid little sheep.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Bright side

“You’re the poster child of Masnick’s Gang o’ Pirates. “

Actually, everyone gets together over the rum, and cola to sit down and figure out who’s the captain of the week. Then Mike comes out goes Eenie Meenie, Minie Mo’ and picks the guy that hasn’t stabbed the others for the position. Dammit Eejit, you beat Dark Helmet and TAC for the position! The other guys are sure to make you walk the plank. Run for your life!

anonymous says:

‘Zediva legitimately bought the DVDs and used them just as you would at home if you rented a DVD and brought it home.’ that being the case, can someone please explain to me how ‘the tech and entertainment sectors face an uphill battle to change popular attitudes about the dangers of piracy.’ and how ‘the length of hte cord determines if something is infringing’?

what sort of complete idiotic fucking prat made that up?

where is the ‘piracy’ here? am i missing something or is Chris Dodd being his ‘usual, ignorant of the facts, ass hat’ self?

Anonymous Coward says:

Yet again, you can just exercise your right to control these luddites

If the sheep in this country could just live without their precious new releases, blockbusters and whatever else you believe this drivel to be, for one lousy month, some of this bullying behavior would go away. But most people can’t be bothered with the slightest inconvenience anymore, even in the pursuit of a worthwhile cause. Pitiful. Personally, these days I find it all to aggravating to play the game and graduated from any desire for new releases, blockbusters and the lousy drivel. As a happy by-product, I am also voting with my wallet. Smug? you bet I am.

Tim K (profile) says:

An innovative Startup?

“….Zediva, an innovative startup…”

Mike, “an innovative startup”? Really? Clever certainly, but not innovative. Arguably, it was actually ass-backwards….instead of the forward-thinking concepts of storing a digital file on a server and streaming it (ala Netflix streaming) which would theoretically allow unlimited access, they actually housed limited physical copies of the media and limited physical players and had to physically play and transmit each movie individually. I get that it was clever that they found a loophole, and while a reasonable court should have seen that, it still wasn’t “innovative”.

Scooters (profile) says:

Re: An innovative Startup?

Agreed, and I never said anything because there are some around here who would think those objecting are in favor of the ruling.

I can’t fathom 2 million DVD players residing at a facility, and if this didn’t get shut down, the concept was far too stupid to sustain itself.

I’m glad it was shut down, though I don’t like the way it was handled. Investors should have shut this down long before they gave it a single dollar.

Instead, they should have invested in 1000 domains pointing to the same digital file. This way, when Hollywood went after one site, the other 999 could still make money.

I’d like to know why no one turns the cameras onto this industry with its blatant law-breaking tactics to keep companies like Redbox from flourishing without having to “make deals” like Blockbuster did.

Piracy didn’t kill Blockbuster. Hollywood did.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: An innovative Startup?

Actually, I believe the point was in the innovation of the way they actually seemed to find a path thru the current copyright morass to provide a service that to any person of even limited intelligence should be legal.

Admittedly, not innovative in a sane world but the best you can hope for where we live today.

Ben (profile) says:

Re: Re: An innovative Startup?

This ++++

At what point has things become so fucked up in copyright that people believed this setup was a valid business model option of streaming in the digital age. And the movie companies STILL fought it. It is frankly ludicrous.

The future of innovation. Having lawyers and business models that try find a legal way to do something, whether viable and sane or not.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: An innovative Startup?

What planet do you live at? Ever read that Zediva was born over the stupid streaming fees that MAFIAA tries to charge? Ever heard how Netflix streaming service is being virtually strangled by MAFIAA?

I agree with Mike on that. Yet another nice business that got killed. Obviously streaming from one fixed source would be much smarter but as we could see MAFIAA will keep this path strangled to a halt.

And it’s astonishing to see that justice is for the ones that have money. I’m fairly sure that the length of the cord wouldn’t have sustained itself in the long run with the appeals but Zediva had no money to fight on. Rotten world we live in. With each passing day I’m more and more convinced not to buy anymore digital goods. I”ll have to fight against habit but MAFIAA is making more and more morally acceptable. I will now only donate to the artists directly.

Tim K (profile) says:

Re: Re: An innovative Startup?

I live “on” planet Earth. I know why Zediva operated in the ass-backwards low tech way that they did. I mentioned that it was a clever ‘workaround’ to a problem caused by the stupidity of the movie studios.

I could come to your house with a DVD player, a DVD and some cables and show you a movie “on demand” for money. It would be legal (in theory) and it would be a workaround to the studio’s ridiculous licensing and windowing schemes. But it certainly isn’t innovative… not when you are taking technology backwards to accomplish a goal…. and it certainly isn’t sustainable or scaleable.

So much like Zediva, my stupid door-to-door movie service avoids the problems of licensing and delay windows… but I don’t think that anyone would consider physically transporting digital media as “innovative”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: An innovative Startup?

“Innovative”? Hardly.

“Clever”? Yes, but far to much for its own good.

“Reasonable court”? Yes. This was not a case about the “length of the cord” as this site would have its readership believe. While one may not like the outcome of the case, the judge did not arrive at his opinion in a vacuum.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: An innovative Startup?

“Reasonable court”? Yes. This was not a case about the “length of the cord” as this site would have its readership believe. While one may not like the outcome of the case, the judge did not arrive at his opinion in a vacuum.

That’s right. The judge applied the law as it currently exists, not some fairy tale version of the law that Mike and his gang envision but doesn’t actually exist. When you work backwards, as Mike does, it looks like the judge got it wrong. But the judge’s reasoning and application of the law was sound, and it’s dishonest for Mike to pretend otherwise. He may disagree about the outcome for policy reasons, but to pretend like the judge’s ruling is in any way wrong is just petulant whining on Mike’s part. This isn’t innovative. It’s a DVD player hooked up to the internet. That’s moving backwards. And it is a public performance. Good grief.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: An innovative Startup?

If the DVD player is hooked up directly to your TV its legal, but if its hooked up to your TV through the internet it is illegal. You are right that is perfectly logical. I can legally rent you a DVD and a DVD player for you to take home and set up, but if I set it up for you and stream the feed its illegal. Right makes perfect sense. Apparently the length of the cord does matter because that is what made this illegal.

ASTROBOI says:

Nothing new here.

Go back 60 years. The movie studios owned their own theaters. If an independent theater opened they had to agree to buy the years output of one studio or another. It was called “block booking”. If the studio had a good year, so did the indie house. Otherwise….oh well. Theaters pointed out that they could make lots of money for the studios if only they could rent the movies that would play well in their locations. Didn’t matter. The studios could live without that money but they couldn’t live if they were not in total control. Well, block booking was outlawed and the studios forced to sell their theaters. But they didn’t learn. They just nurtured a grudge.

Movie studios and their government pals don’t like the internet. They hate file sharing and all new delivery methods. They despise bloggers that grumble and bitch about injustice. They will struggle to control files, data, information…..etc….just like they tried to control all exhibition. They will fight until they win or are trashed just as the 1948 “consent decree” trashed their theater business. What bothers me is that maybe this time THEY will win. After all, this time the govt. is pretty much on their side.

hmm (profile) says:

Re: Nothing new here.

They could win “for a while” but if E-parasite goes through the US pretty quickly plunge into a new ACTUAL civil war as the rich stomp all over the freedom of speech of the general public (well more than they do currently).

And let’s be honest, if the US DID overthrow its government (it’s your duty under the 2nd Amendment) then the new system would HAVE to be better.

For one thing if you charged $5 to throw a brick at a MAFIAA executive the deficit would be cleared within a week.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let’s be honest, there was nothing truly innovative about Zediva, just legally interesting. The concept was low-tech and unfeasible for much expansion. Furthernore, the case law was stacked against it to begin with, any appeal unlikely to succeed give stare decisis. Hollywood has killed many legitimate innovations unnecessarily and shortsightedly, so I don’t disagree with your general thesis – just its application to this particular business.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re:

People always say there is nothing “truly innovative” about anything until it is set up in a way that works well.

What Zediva did is innovative because no one has done it yet. Lets be honest: your opinion on whether or not it could have been successful is just an opinion and a guess. Maybe they couldn’t make it work, that’s their problem. If they don’t get a chance to try because because their competition says there should be a law against it is and the government shuts them down it’s everyone’s problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Let’s be honest, there was nothing truly innovative about Zediva, just legally interesting. The concept was low-tech and unfeasible for much expansion. Furthernore, the case law was stacked against it to begin with, any appeal unlikely to succeed give stare decisis. Hollywood has killed many legitimate innovations unnecessarily and shortsightedly, so I don’t disagree with your general thesis – just its application to this particular business.

Zediva knew the risk it was taking. Their reading of the law was creative, but not ultimately persuasive.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

What Zediva did is innovative because no one has done it yet.

Actually, they had. I remember in the early ’80s that our cable company started a service that was exactly this. You picked a movie to rent, and someone down at the cable office would physically cue up a videotape and it would be played for you.

Even before that, there was the exact same thing but with music, over the telephone. This was the early 20th century, I believe.

I don’t think Zediva was particularly innovative. I also think that arguing about that description is a bit meaningless, as it has nothing to do with whether or not the service was improperly shuttered.

out_of_the_blue says:

"What a legacy the MPAA is leaving behind."

Who says they’re leaving? They’re winning nearly every legal battle! A whole suite of legislation is in the works. And you keep telling us how well they’re doing in spite of piracy, or /because/ of it in your wacky notions. — It’s YOU who are likely to be leaving the scene, Mike. (Fighting the wrong battles in my opinion, and a friend of corporations too, so I’m not even clear which side you’re on.)

2nd topic: how you freetards jeered at my comment in the previous thread:
———————
Boiled down: a “public performance” is any on a PUBLIC DVD player.
out_of_the_blue, Aug 2nd, 2011 @ 11:24am

Not one’s own private DVD player. Cutting through the daffy legalistic bafflegab that lawyers lard up reasoning with no matter how [simple] and obvious the facts are, that’s what this court and the other “intuited”.
———————

But, turns out you were blatantly wrong.

By the way, 261 comments and over 10% of them stem from MY quickly jotted-down thoughts. Sure, most are just empty contradiction, but proves how little original you guys have.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "What a legacy the MPAA is leaving behind."

“By the way, 261 comments and over 10% of them stem from MY quickly jotted-down thoughts. Sure, most are just empty contradiction, but proves how little original you guys have.”

So people responding to your comments makes them unoriginal? What does that make you, since all of your posts are in response to Mike’s posts?

Rikuo (profile) says:

The only thing Hollywood got out of this court case is a TON of bad press and a damaged reputation. Zediva would never have survived as a profitable business in the marketplace, not when you have Youtube and Netflix stacked against it. So the smart move by Hollywood would have been to ignore it. Hollywood would have gotten its wish: Zediva would have died, and all for the low low price of free (no money spent on lawyers and no damage to its reputation).

Bergman (profile) says:

If all it takes is a single notice, and not even by the actual rights holder, asserting that a site is in violation of copyright law to shut it down…

Have any of the pro-consumer aspects of the various copyright laws, such as Fair Use, actually been repealed? It occurs to me that DRM that denies consumers rights guaranteed by law would be infringement of copyright law as well.

Could we report a record label’s online store to its payment processor?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Unintended consequences ...

“Chris Dodd and the MPAA won’t even need to go to court, they can just send a single notice to the payment processor for Zediva, and the plug would be pulled. Dead.”

Being able to kill off access to payment processors will have unintended consequences. Much like nature, the internet abhors a vacuum. This loss of payment processors will be filled, either by bitCoin or something similar, or some barter system. Either way, this will lead to more criminal activity, and lessen law enforcements ability to track criminals..

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