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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 4:06pm

    How do they differentiate between a television using that browser and a monitor using that browser? My husbands Samsung monitor has a built-in tuner, so you could call it a TV if you wanted. What's the difference between watching it on my big monitor or a small television?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:21pm

    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¡).

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:21pm

    Re:

    And what about a computer connected to a big screen TV?

     

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  4.  
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    ScrObot, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:24pm

    How long until someone figures out how to change the User Agent ID to something else that doesn't identify itself as a TV-based device?

     

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  5.  
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    Modplan (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:26pm

    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.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:28pm

    Chrome is the word

    I bet you can watch YouTube on these devices using Chrome. Google wants to corner the viewer market and they have the means to do so.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:36pm

    "Do no evil"

    ...unless profits are involved.

     

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  8.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 6:02pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm assuming it would be really easy to apply a simple crack to Boxee that makes it send out a Firefox browser ID or something like that too... in fact, some Boxee users are probably already doing this.

     

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  9.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 6:04pm

    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.

     

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  10.  
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    Greyson, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 6:10pm

    Easy Fix

    There's an easy way to program your router to show your "device" as being a windows box using firefox. They are only actually blocking a specific type of browser so its easy to fool their server into thinking you are using a PC.

    http://www.ypass.net/blog/2009/06/got-a-ps3-want-hulu-back-easy-enough/

     

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  11.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 6:11pm

    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!

     

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  12.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 6:19pm

    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.

     

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  13.  
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    sondun2001 (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 6:24pm

    Re:

    They tell the difference based on the browser installed on the device.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 6:26pm

    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?

     

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  15.  
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    cease, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 7:09pm

    what happened to be don't be evil

     

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  16.  
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    Chargone (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 7:33pm

    Re: Re:

    ... personally, my TV has a VGA input, so...

    that said, it's kinda a joke to call it a TV. i don't actually watch television on it *laughs*

    just use it for consoles, dvd players, and the PC... it's more a computer monitor that can be used for the consoles in practice.

    but yeah, probably not so common, i guess.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 8:02pm

    Block Chrome?

    I wonder what Google would think if some sites started blocking Chrome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Re:

    I have a computer hooked up to my big screen TV. We use it to stream Netflix. That's not counting the Wii...

     

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  19.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 8:06pm

    Re: Re:

    Yeah, I know. I should have said 'why' and not 'how'. I meant, how could someone with a brain think that those two things are fundamentally different... but that's not what I wrote, lol.

     

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  20.  
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    Michial Thompson, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 8:10pm

    Simple

    First off why shouldn't the content creator have the choice how to limit their content? Kinda their right to shoot themselves in the foot.

    As for simplicity, all someone has to do is write a proxy server app that changes the browser id....

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 8:12pm

    Re: Simple

    I don't think anyone claimed that it wasn't their right, only that it was stupid, which...is exactly what you said.

     

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  22.  
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    Aaron Martin-Colby (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 8:50pm

    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.

     

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  23.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 9:47pm

    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."

    I totally hated that ?SVGA? to cable to cable-input switch to tv connection I had set up back in the 90's. Is so much easier now.

     

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  24.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 9:52pm

    Re:

    They arent being evil, what they are doing however is handing them the rope to hang themselves with .... oh wait thats evil ;)

     

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  25.  
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    Nick Burns (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 11:13pm

    What about the FAT+

    I haven't checked my device yet, but are they also blocking the FreeAgent Theater+? That's one of it's selling points to be able view YouTube videos.

     

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  26.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Chrome is the word

    You mean like Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition?

    Oh, wait...
    They're not blocking that, are they?


    Oh wait, they pay more license fees to YouTube, are they?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:40am

    Some more

    What's also annoying is that downloaded flv files cannot be watched either cause the file browser ignores the flv extension.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 5:29am

    connect PC directly to TV using DVI-HDMI,

    'nuf said.

    What a bunch of losers, All this does is encourage piracy.

     

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  29.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 5:42am

    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.

     

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  30.  
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    Stuart Friedman, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 6:21am

    An Old Notebook is the Best Hack

    I just hooked an old notebook to the VGA in on my living room flat screen and bought a wireless keyboard/mouse combo which I keep underneath my coffee table.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 7:17am

    Re:

    If you're using Media Center with one of the Media Center extensions to watch videos through it's interface, how is this going to help?

    I don't think what I use on my Xbox has been blocked yet.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 7:22am

    Re: An Old Notebook is the Best Hack

    I think the entire point is ease of use with a remote instead of pulling out a keyboard and mouse when you want to watch something on one of the sites.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    inc (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 7:49am

    Re:

    I assume they are basing this on a User-Agent and possibly some javascript that collects information on the clients computer. All Boxee would need to do is report itself as the default browser the user already has installed.

     

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  34.  
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    inc (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 8:00am

    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: 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: www.hulu.com
    User-Agent: Not Boxee

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

     

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  35.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 9:39am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    KGWagner (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 11:31am

    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.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Chrome is the word

    Well, you said "they're blocking media-centric hardware & software that is designed to make the web video viewing experience more TV-like." If you don't think that description applies to MS MCE then I think the failure is on your part. Massively.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:51pm

    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 www.minimodding.com.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    monte, Oct 21st, 2012 @ 5:50pm

    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!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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