CBS's Censorship Of CNET May Undermine A Different CBS Lawsuit

from the didn't-think-about-that,-now-did-you? dept

Last week, after the news came out that CBS had censored its subsidiary CNET, barring reporters there from reviewing Dish products (or any product of any company in litigation with CBS) or from awarding them the "best of CES" award that CNET reporters had already voted on, we wrote a post pointing out how this was dumb for a variety of reasons, mainly focused on the harm it did to CNET's credibility. Indeed, as noted, one of CNET's star reporters, Greg Sandoval, has already resigned. However, it turns out that it may have been even more stupid than originally suspected. In fact, it may undermine another important lawsuit filed by CBS.

We've written in the past a few times about Alki David's crusade against CBS, in which he sued the company, pushing a conspiracy theory about how CBS only went after his company FilmOn (the name of which was later changed, for pure publicity reasons, to AereoKiller) because it wanted to be the only one to profit from infringement. The argument was that because CNET was owned by CBS, and because CNET site Download.com had offered up software like Limewire, combined with CNET reviewers reviewing Limewire, it meant that CBS itself was guilty of infringement.

This was a silly legal theory, built more out of spite to annoy CBS. Unfortunately, since it was first brought up, we've seen many people passing it along (especially one particular YouTube video that calls out this "conspiracy theory" as fact, without any basis). However, knowing how independent CNET was from CBS, it always seemed like a particularly silly accusation, and the first version of the lawsuit didn't go very far, though a refiled version has done slightly better.

However, now that CBS has decided to rush headlong through that wall of editorial independence it may have totally undermined its own case. That's because, in responding to the case, CBS, in part, made the argument that a finding against it might chill free speech by encroaching on the editorial independence of CNET.

Except... in making this latest move, CBS is now making the argument that it has no problem butting in on CNET's editorial independence (or any CBS Interactive property), which may take away a key argument it has against secondary liability for any articles about infringement. Knowing the way Alki David has acted in the past, I'd be surprised if he didn't rush to use this in the ongoing case.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 6:58am

    CNET

    Better known as Apple News

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 6:58am

    And media consolidation is good for society how?

     

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

  3.  
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    Call me Al, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:04am

    That is glorious. There are few things more satisfying then watching companies like this get hoisted on their own petards.

     

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  4.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:14am

    Need a funny button on this story, I love how Mike just does the whole casual I'll just leave this here...

     

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  5.  
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    gorehound (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:29am

    We are all laughing !!!

     

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

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:33am

    While amusing on one level, it is also worrying as it shows the legal system being misused as business tool. There is little difference between Alki David's use of the legal system against CBS and the DOJ against Aaron Swartz or Megaupload. All bring the law into disrepute.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:38am

    Re:

    I think the laws in this area do enough of that on their own, thanks.

     

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  8.  
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    minerat (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:39am

    Arstechnica made a really good point about CBS's decision and CNET's disclosure. The disclosure really doesn't make it better because it doesn't just affect reviews of the products from companies with which CBS is involved in litigation, it affects reviews of all products in the same category because they won't be compared to all possible alternatives (and this probably won't be disclosed in every gadget review where a competing product has been blacklisted). It undermines their credibility far more than it superficially appears.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    'The argument was that because CNET was owned by CBS, and because CNET site Download.com had offered up software like Limewire, combined with CNET reviewers reviewing Limewire, it meant that CBS itself was guilty of infringement.'

    considering how many courts now rule against sites that simply have links to other sites that MAY contain infringing files, how can this not be classed as infringing when the site itself was available as was the software? seems like a dangerous area is being trodden here

     

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  10.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 8:18am

    Re:

    There is a huge difference between some small-time random guy trying to twist the law to go after a huge company in a civil suit, and the arguably most powerful government twisting the law to go after people in criminal cases.

     

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  11.  
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    Chris-Mouse (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re:

    There is a huge difference between the power of the government, and the power of the individual, but in both cases, the law is being twisted to do something it was never intended to do. Also in both cases, the twisting of the law leaves an opening for further abuses of that same law.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 8:53am

    Only other people can undermine your freedom and independence!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 8:55am

    It seems to me that if CBS' affiliate is offering up reviews on limewire and downloads of the software, CBS is giving an implied permission to download their content through the service should it be available.

     

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  14.  
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    vastrightwing, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 8:59am

    Re: media consolidation

    Ehh! It no longer matters. I get most of my news and information from sources other than the usual main stream suspects. Let media consolidate all it wants. That just means fewer outlets screaming the same talking points.

     

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  15.  
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    Zos (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 9:08am

    Re:

    it's hoisted "with", or "by" one's own petard.

    a petard was a small explosive charge, like a grenade

     

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  16.  
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    Zos (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re:

    i know, pedantic and semantic hair splitting, but i'm a little ocd.

     

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  17.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Don't forget the difference between civil and criminal.

    Also, there is the difference with the enforcers of the law vs just some guy.

    There's also the difference in roles. The DOJ is supposed to enforce laws for the betterment of society in a just manner. This guy does not play any of those roles.

    I get it. He's trying to twist laws. That's bad. It shouldn't happen. He's an idiot for doing so (and probably other reasons, too). But to say there's little difference between the two is asinine. He's got very limited funds to keep this lawsuit going, certainly less than CBS has to squash it. The DOJ, OTOH, has practically limitless funds to go after people whose funds they can take away at will (cf. Mega).

     

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  18.  
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    Ed C., Jan 15th, 2013 @ 10:12am

    CNET having integrity? I stopped trusting them even before CBS bought them. Something about their editors claiming items as top picks while stating that they were clearly inferior to others items, even ones they also reviewed, didn't sit right with me. Is it the best item in the category or is it inferior? You can't have it both ways, but yet, they did.

     

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  19.  
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    Gregg, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 11:10am

    Re: CNET

    Totally iApple News!

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2013 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There is something rotten with the legal system when twisting the law is normal. To a large extent this is a problem with the legal profession agreeing to act in such cases. This has become endemic in American law, which includes lawyers acting omn behalf of the government.

     

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

  21.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 15th, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    it meant that CBS itself was guilty of infringement

    I saw a vid once that made a very strong case about this, and since have found another site that makes a good case of they knew and didnt care.
    http://onecandleinthedark.blogspot.com/

    At face value word for word it seems absurd. But...

    The argument was that because CNET was owned by CBS, and because CNET site Download.com had offered up software like Limewire, combined with CNET reviewers reviewing Limewire, it meant that CBS itself was guilty of infringement. - Sooo a CBS owned site is not responsible for the content it provided? Or encouraging users to download such tools? How so? Its not like this was user generated stuff.

     

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  22.  
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    cnot, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 9:02am

    Response to: minerat on Jan 15th, 2013 @ 7:39am

    Is anyone maintaining a list of items cnet is not allowed to review?

     

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  23.  
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    Arman shah, Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 11:42pm

    All subject

     

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


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