Japanese Court Says That Place Shifting TV Overseas Is Infringing

from the ah,-modern-technology dept

As you follow the copyright world, you quickly learn how quickly modern technology obsoletes copyright law. For example, when VCRs first came out, the industry thought it was infringing, but courts finally realized that the benefits to such things outweighed the potential costs, and declared that such time shifting was not, in fact, infringement. A similar debate was had when DVRs hit the market. Similar to the debate over time shifting, was the debate over place shifting, with things like Sling box, that allow you to transfer your TV programming away from your TV to a computer or some other device.

Over in Japan they're dealing with this same issue, where Japan's Supreme Court has decided that place shifting Japanese TV shows overseas is infringing (via Public Knowledge). It doesn't sound like this service was sending "pirated" copies -- but instead, had just set up a remote Slingbox-like operation, that would allow someone from overseas to tap into a legit television account. I can understand why a literal reading of copyright law might suggest this is infringement, but it seems like a common sense reading would make you question how that makes sense.

And that's kind of the point in all of these discussions. Copyright law was designed for a different world, and these days, most of what it seems to do is hold back what the technology enables -- especially when that technology is more efficient and useful. Letting people overseas pay to access content that is legally being broadcast simply shouldn't be infringing, but copyright law doesn't deal well with such situations, unless you finally get judges (such as in the Sony Betamax case in the US) who realize that such an end-result is nonsensical. So, in the end, it's left up to the whims of judges to determine whether or not useful technology is even allowed to exist, and that's not exactly a good recipe for innovation.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 3:03am

    Pay-per-use ftw

    Of course the copytards will say that's fine cause by selling someone access to his content from elsewhere they just open up new markets.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 3:10am

      Re: Pay-per-use ftw

      "copytards"

      I should ignore you for being such a total idiot. But, I'll engage you with intelligent debate instead:

      The question is this: was there any non-infringing way to obtain the content in question outside of Japan? If so, fair enough it's infringing.

      If not, however, I have 2 questions: firstly, how is anything "lost" if there's no way to legally pay for the content? Secondly, doesn't the demand for this content via the Nagano Shoten system demonstrate that there's a market for this content overseas? That is, why aren't they addressing a market that is currently only open to infringing, rather than legal content?

       

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      identicon
      Jose_X, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:28pm

      Re: Pay-per-use ftw

      >> copytards will say

      Well, you are aware that you are asking people not to share information, right?

      You are supporting a system that allows a person to create information (using others for inspiration and for most of the genius behind the pieces) and then get a monopoly on its dissemination, so you want them and only them to then get paid every time others share and spread that information.

      Doesn't that sound a little overbearing and an abuse of the government? [At least in the US, you can share all you want for the purposes of study and education (fair use as codified in 17 USC 107).]

      You are supporting this despite that you can clearly make a living on a continual basis by providing new value of some sort (leveraging your past work) on a continual and competitive basis. And this works well (according to many case studies from TD: "better") because the world values those who create and provide something scarce of value (without trying to deny us the right to leverage that information).

      You are supporting this monopolization (and perhaps for many many decades) despite how much cheaper and easier it is to reach a much larger audience today than it was in 1800 when (US) copyright law stipulated a shorter duration.

      Can I call you "egotard"? How about "self-righteoustard"?

       

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    techflaws.org (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 3:15am

    I should ignore you for being such a total idiot.
    Mmh, I'd rather say the idiot is you cause apparently you don't get anything that is not marked by a tag. And here I thought the use of copytard would give that away. Oh well.

     

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      techflaws.org (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 3:17am

      Re:

      tag = sarc tag

      Honestly. Did anyone else not get that I DO NOT share the views of the copytards (read IP maximalists) who think it is appropriate to make people pay several times over for the same content?

       

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        PaulT (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 3:44am

        Re: Re:

        Hmmm... so no intelligent discussion then? Figures. If I misunderstood your original comment, maybe you should be a little clearer in your statements rather than coming up with "amusing" insults for those you disagree with.

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 5:46am

      Re:

      Inflexion fail!

      Try copyrighttard instead LoL

       

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    techflaws.org (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 3:55am

    pot meet kettle

    An insult like "total idiot" you started you comment with?

     

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    Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 4:02am

    Yup

    Looks like another case of something no-one cared about suddenly becoming an issue because its got an "internet" attached to it. I'm pretty sure I could always carry a video of a TV show anywhere in the world I go and no-one would bat an eyelid. And despite region encoding I don't see massive lawsuits against anyone who has a multi-region DVD player and buys DVDs from abroad.

    Agan I have to ask; If one buys something where you are essentially paying for the right to watch/listen to the content, under what chain of logic does it make sense that you can or should, once sold, limit how, where, when and on what device one gets to exercise the personal use one has purchased?

     

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      techflaws.org (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 4:24am

      Re: Yup

      Like I said in my initial comment that Paul didn't get: the industry wants to establish a pay-per-use scheme where they can charge you several times over for the same content, ideally everytime you use it. That's why you don't any longer own stuff you bought but license it.

      Unfortunately politicians buy into this scheme and users caved which is why DRM is still in use.

       

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        PaulT (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 5:53am

        Re: Re: Yup

        "my initial comment that Paul didn't get"

        Other people don't seem to have gotten it either, though I believe I understand now that you've reworded it without resorting to childish insults (and, no, me calling you an idiot for using insults in place of adult debate does not change this).

        "the industry wants to establish a pay-per-use scheme where they can charge you several times over for the same content, ideally everytime you use it"

        I agree they do want this, dearly, but I don't think this is what it's about in this case. I think this is more about attempting to maintain global control of their product - even if they're not offering it for sale outside of Japan - than double dipping.

        Equally silly and a sign of ignorant management and/or outdated business models, but a little different IMHO.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:29am

          Re: Re: Re: Yup

          I got his intent it was just me?

          On the childish part you both were being childish.

          When I go after someone calling them copytards I'm fully aware that I'm being a jerk, an a-hole and acting out like a child, not going to deny any of that and nor do you both should.

          You calling him and idiot is just not how adults should deal with debates, we should strive to not use that kind of language but it does happen just don't try to cover it up that is just as bad.

           

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    mike allen (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 4:34am

    obviously we need to teach some judges. like we have in the past.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 5:37am

    Tell me I'm not the only one that saw the subtitled and thought of Mass Effect.

    "Ah, modern technology. A body of tools and other implements designed to aid individuals and benefit society. We have dismissed these claims."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 5:50am

    I think you need to understand that this isn't "place shifting" or a "slingbox", rather it is a company that is rebroadcasting (via internet) copyright programs. It isn't a box in your house capturing something and sending it to you (which would be a place shift), rather a service that sends it to people even if they are not in position to have ever received the programs over the air or via cable directly.

    It is sort of different when you realize it is just a pirate distribution system.

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:45am

      Re:

      That's what I was trying to figure out. Are you signing up for a cable service over there and this company is just streaming it to you? Or is the company using one cable subscription and splitting it up for all it's subscribers? Or is this like slingbox where you have to have a cable subscription and an internet connection in the country of origin? I can't find any information on how the system works.

       

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:47am

      Re:

      That's what I was trying to figure out. Are you signing up for a cable service over there and this company is just streaming it to you? Or is the company using one cable subscription and splitting it up for all it's subscribers? Or is this like slingbox where you have to have a cable subscription and an internet connection in the country of origin and they just provide the box? I can't find any information on how the system works.

       

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      Richard (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:48am

      Re:

      rather a service that sends it to people even if they are not in position to have ever received the programs over the air or via cable directly.

      It wasn't totally clear from the article that this is correct. However, even if it is it does rather depend on the business model of the channels in question. If it is free-to-air advertising funded then it is not clear why they should object. If it was pay-per-view then it is clearly an infringing distribution that the original broadcaster has justification in objecting to (I'll not use you emotive words).
      However - since most of the people who would want this service are probably Japanese who are temporarily overseas and don't want to miss their regular programmes I would have thought that doing some kind of deal would be infinitely preferable to suing.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:12am

        Re: Re:

        They might object for any reason, particularly the license they have on shows. They may only buy the rights for the shows to show in Tokyo, example. But if they are available worldwide, the cost of programming may go up, because they may hurt resale markets. The advertising isn't going to go up, because it isn't like suddenly there will be mostly international advertisers on a local channel.

        The real solution is to make it a "pay" IP cable system, allowing the stations to licence their channels for rebroadcast. That allows them to be compensated for whatever extra expenses they might incur, and turns the entire thing legal.

         

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          Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The real solution is to make it a "pay" IP cable system
          That's a real solution? Charging users more money for doing something that costs next to nothing that you'd have immense difficulty stopping them doing anyway? Well that's worked well every other time it's been tried and hasn't encouraged copyright infringement at all so I'm sure you're right.

          Hmm perhaps it might be time to try and think of an unreal solution.

           

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          Richard (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:52am

          Re: Re: Re:

          particularly the license they have on shows. They may only buy the rights for the shows to show in Tokyo, example.

          I was assuming the traditional British Ad supported model where the broadcaster generally owns the rights to do pretty much what they want. In general the Ad revenue will track the viewing so any additional costs are automatically covered by additional revenue.

          Of course in the US you have a spider's web of licenses (unfortunately its infected British TV now) - but I assumed that Japanese TV must make pretty much all of their own material - since there isn't exactly a huge market in Japanese language stuff outside Japan.

           

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          PaulT (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:50pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "The real solution is to make it a "pay" IP cable system"

          Actually, the real solution is to stop trying to section the online world up into bite-sized chunks and service the global market, just as the "pirates" do. If that involves a business model that doesn't depend on local advertisers but accepts other revenue streams (of which there are hundreds of possiblities), then so be it.

          "But if they are available worldwide, the cost of programming may go up, because they may hurt resale markets."

          In the US and Europe, at least, what resale value is there to most Japanese shows? Yet, ex-pat Japanese and other people with interest in the content but blocked by the region restrictions may be willing to pay for a legit source - a market already serviced by "pirates" in lieu of a legal option. This is already demonstrably true, albeit in grey areas (for example, importers of Japanese goods will often sell Japanese iTunes cards to bypass regional restrictions and allow other countries access to Japan-only content).

          This is not a zero sum game, no matter how much you and your ilk pretend it is.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 5:59am

    Is not surprising coming from Japan, they don't get it.

    Until very recently no search engine existed there because of the laws that they had before, they changed that because it started to be a problem being left behind.

    I believe is just crazy, ever more when you learn that NTT is paid for by the public with a tax like the BBC in the U.K.

    The good news is that "damages" in Japan means a thousand dollar fine.

     

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    cc (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    What I don't get is, why are the *local broadcasters* so miffed by people place-shifting abroad? Are they also the rightsholders, and if they aren't, how can they claim damages?

     

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    Shon Gale (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:11am

    I'm sure most of you don't remember the first satellite dishes but we used to get broadcast from all over, the Phillipines, Japan, European countries. We used to sit and laugh at them because we couldn't understand them and the production was usually so shoddy it made for an hour or so of giggles. Also it was an ego trip. 'Yea man, my dish picked up Tibet man.' Little did we know that these broadcast(s) may actually be worth some money someday.

     

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    DH's Love Child (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:21am

    Even more ridiculous

    So reading a little bit more here http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110119p2a00m0na011000c.html it appears that this ruling only applies to a commercial entity attempting to do this.
    From the article:
    The ruling on Jan. 18 does not suggest that the transmission of programs from one individual to another is illegal.

     

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      Jay (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:34am

      Re: Even more ridiculous

      So pirating is legal, but you have to pay for it if you own a company...

      Damn. That just seems like a bad ruling...

      Especially in light of this

       

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      Richard (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 7:45am

      Re: Even more ridiculous

      Seems like if you buy a box and put it in your house so that it relays your tv to you over the web then that's fine. But if a company looks after the box on it's own premises that's not allowed. I wonder what happens if the company maintains the box but it's located in your house??

      Whatever this is - it clearly isn't piracy (seeing as it is simply a company taking money to do for you what you could legally do for yourself.)

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 7:43am

    Cable length?

    This seems to come down to the length of the cable and who owns the cable.

    If I have 3 ft cable going from my media box to my TV and I pay a subscription and own the 3ft cable then it's legal.

    If I rent the 3 ft cable from a 3rd party is the 3rd party in trouble for copyright infringement?

    If I rent 100 ft cable from a 3rd party are they in trouble for copyright infringement?

    If I rent 100 ft cable from a 3rd party and watch my subscription from the back yard is the 3rd party in trouble for copyright infringement?

    If I rent 5000 ft cable and watch my subscription from the restroom of a bar down the street is the 3rd party who rented the cable to me in trouble for copyright infringement?

    Is the 3rd party in trouble only if they advertise and encourage this kind of behavior or are they off the hook if they state something to the effect that they had no idea I was going to watch my subscription from a bar restroom using their cable?

     

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      Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:11am

      Re: Cable length?

      Extra points for being funny and right at the same time.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:14am

      Re: Cable length?

      It would depend if the remote people are paying for cable access in the first place. This is to send stuff overseas, not to the next room. If at the end of your 5206 feet of cable is a pirated connection, it doesn't matter how long your wire is.

      There is no indication here that the remote users have the initial right to the content to start with. So your post is funny, but seemingly a little ignorant.

       

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        Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:24am

        Re: Re: Cable length?

        There is no indication here that the remote users have the initial right to the content to start with. So your post is funny, but seemingly a little ignorant.
        There isn't? You might try reading a little closer first;
        It doesn't sound like this service was sending "pirated" copies -- but instead, had just set up a remote Slingbox-like operation, that would allow someone from overseas to tap into a legit television account.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 11:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Cable length?

          I read it. It doesn't sound definite. Sounds like someone guessing as to intent rather than actually confirming anything.

          In fact, if you looked past the end of your nose (and past Mike Masnick's lack of research) you would find:

          http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110119p2a00m0na011000c.html

          "The top court's Third Petty Bench, however, concluded that anyone could subscribe to the service, and that Nagano Shoten had proactively transmitted programs to an unspecified number of people."

          Oh snap!

           

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            Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Cable length?

            I read it. It doesn't sound definite. Sounds like someone guessing as to intent rather than actually confirming anything.
            As is your perogative to opine. On the other hand if you disagree you might try politely pointing to the source of additional information you feel supports such a position rather than jumping straight in the first time with the insults with no support. Then it might be possible to have a reasoned discussion about whether the destination of the cable should make any difference rather than pointless and childish name calling. Unless of course that was your aim?

            Just saying....

             

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            PaulT (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Cable length?

            "The top court's Third Petty Bench, however, concluded that anyone could subscribe to the service, and that Nagano Shoten had proactively transmitted programs to an unspecified number of people."

            ...and?

            There's 3 questions here, really:

            1. Was Nagano Shoten's service infringing?

            2. Was there an alternative, legal option available for those subscribing to Nagano Shoten's service?

            3. Were there other options available than to sue and shut down Nagano Shoten's service?

            I think that we can agree that in terms of contract law, if not copyright and other laws, the answer to question 1 is probably yes.

            However, what did the TV companies actually lose by Nagano Shoten offering their service? That depends on the answer to question 2. If no, then Nagano Shoten were servicing a market form which the broadcasters were receiving literally nothing from. Since it was offered external to Japan, no revenue was lost internally so nothing was lost. At best, this simply shows that there's international demand for Japanese TV content and that this untapped market should be addressed.

            Which takes us to question 3. If the answer to question 2 is yes, then the answer to question 3 also has to be yes. This takes us to the core criticism in this and all similar cases - instead of running to the lawyers, there are business decisions that can be made to make all parties happy and reduce the incentive for infringement.

            But, the lawyers were involved, so potential customers lose an access method to the content they want, Japanese suppliers and artists lose international exposure and another precedent is set that appears to halt technological development in the entertainment arena due to outdated business methods. Everybody loses out, but some fools think they've won. That's a problem, since the fools are still in charge of the industry.

            As Shuhei Nagano said in the article you linked: "It's doesn't make sense to strip others of the right to receive useful services in order to protect broadcasters' vested interests.". Indeed, especially if people are demonstrably willing to pay for such services (remember: this was a paid for service, not a "pirated" freebie).

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 4:16pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cable length?

              All I can say Paul is that you started in the wrong place. You are assuming that the Nagano Shoten service needs to exist. There is no such proof.

              There are legal options (everyone can cringe as we say "to the cloud!").

              Japanese suppliers and artists lose international exposure and another precedent is set that appears to halt technological development in the entertainment arena due to outdated business methods.

              Not in the slightest. The mistake commonly made here is the "who should decide". The business methods you point out as out of date work just fine. If the suppliers and the artists (as a collective) want exposure, they can work deals to make it happen. They can run their own websites, their own download service, sell their shows out of market on DVDs, whatever it is that they choose. That is up to them, not up to you. You don't get to make the business decision for them.

              Your entire post smacks of a sense of entitlement that makes you look like a spoiled child, who feels they can tell everyone else what to do, regardless of what it costs them to do it, or their lack of desire to do it.

               

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                PaulT (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 5:08pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cable length?

                "You are assuming that the Nagano Shoten service needs to exist. There is no such proof."

                Show me the service that allows legal access to the same content from anywhere in the world - free or paid - and I'll agree it's not necessary. Otherwise, they're filling a niche that's not being services, and therefore "needs to exist".

                "There are legal options"

                Such as? Show me where a person living, for example, in Spain as I do can legally access Japanese channels. Show me how I can legally access the same content that Nagano Shoten would have offered me.

                "You don't get to make the business decision for them."

                I'm no economist, but I was under the impression that it was about supply and demand. The market demands something, that demand is supplied to. The entire problem here is that unless you can demonstrate otherwise above, there is a demand that's not being supplied legally. Therefore, an infringing service steps in. The demand doesn't go away because the producer says "no, I can't be bothered to service that market" or "I don't see the profit margin", especially when dealing with entertainment that's already been produced in a digital format.

                Most types of business live and die on recognising and servicing demand in the marketplace. Yet, with entertainment, the marketplace should just accept whatever is chosen to throw our way and demanding anything that's available elsewhere is acting like a spoiled child? You sound like a poor businessman, and symptomatic of what's wrong with the industry.

                "Your entire post smacks of a sense of entitlement that makes you look like a spoiled child, who feels they can tell everyone else what to do, regardless of what it costs them to do it, or their lack of desire to do it."

                I'm asking for a legal way to access publicly available content. I'm not even asking for this particular content for myself, just pointing out how stupid it is to restrict content geographically in this day and age.

                You, as ever, offer nothing of substance and pretend that such material should be treated like the crown jewels until it's made available at the whims of the content providers. Yet, those same providers will also claim "losses", even though they're not making the content available.

                It's again quite simple: you can't have your cake and eat it. You can't offer something to one part of the world that's not available elsewhere. It will be available, like it or not, and you lose the right to complain about others "stealing" content if you refuse to sell it in the first place.

                 

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:24am

    It may be that their American distributors are pushing to stop place shifting. FUNimation, the U.S. distributor for Dragonball Z and other anime just filed a lawsuit against file sharers today. It appears to be for "One Piece" episode 481. The suit was filed by Evan Stone, who has primarily been going after porn sharers.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 26th, 2011 @ 6:57am

    FREE TO AIR PLACE SHIFTING

    If you pickup the Television Signal Free To Air via a antenna, you are using the public airways, which to me puts all Transmitted Material within the public domain and there is no copyright infringement. This signal can then retransmitted to the internet for worldwide distribution.

    If a author or media company is concerned about copyright infringement then they should broadcast their content via Free To Air, they need to personally control the distribution of their copyrighted material.

    Just my opinion

     

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