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Copyright

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
bans, copyright, hardware, mexico, piracy, streaming

Companies:
roku



Mexico Reverses Ban On Selling Roku Hardware After Absurd Piracy Ruling

from the closed-platforms dept

So just about a year ago the Mexican court system decided to ban all Roku streaming hardware from being sold in Mexico. The ban was the result of legal action taken by Mexican cable company Cablevision, which accused Roku of facilitating piracy. How? While Roku devices are more locked down than many of the more open home media PC solutions (also the target of endless pearl clutching and hyperventilation by the entertainment industry), users can install certain unofficial, third-party "private" channels that provide access to pirated live streams of cable content.

While Roku went out of its way to try and lock down their hardware, some users paid hackers a few bucks to crack open and modify the devices anyway, letting them access the dubious third-party channels in question. While this obviously wasn't Roku's fault, Cablevision believed Roku should be punished for the behavior of the company's customers, and declared it was doing Mexican consumers a public service:

"Cablevision cannot allow the content that it licenses from domestic and foreign companies to be illegally used,” Cablevision spokeswoman Maria Eugenia Zurita told Reuters via email. “We would also like Roku Inc to better supervise the use of its software so that it’s not used inappropriately."

Roku quickly appealed, and while a federal judge initially overturned the ban, a subsequent ruling restored it, so the ban has been in place for the better part of the year, costing Roku a notable sum. Roku subsequently jumped through all manner of hoops in a bid to please the courts, including building a new internal team specifically dedicated to cracking down on piracy, posting notable warnings to users who decide to install unofficial channels, and renaming the channels from "private" to "non-certified" in a bid to make it even more obvious Roku wasn't sanctioning the behavior of its users.

Fast forward to this week, and the 11th Collegiate Court in Mexico City has ruled to again overturn the ban, opening the door to Mexican consumers being able to, you know, buy whatever hardware they like and use the devices as they see fit.

"The Court reportedly acknowledged Roku’s efforts to keep pirated content away from its platform, an opinion also shared by Cablevision. However, should pirate channels appear on Roku in the future, Cablevision warned that it would take further legal action to have those sources blocked via the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property and other local authorities."

Again, consumers are just using a computer to access content online, and what that content is really shouldn't really be seen as Roku's responsibility. The irony here is that Roku has spent a lot of time kissing up to entrenched cable operators here in the States, helping them scuttle efforts to make traditional cable boxes more open. Of course much like the cable industry, the more locked down Roku makes its products, the more likely consumers are to flock to products that actually let them do what they want, which obviously doesn't necessarily include piracy.

The same hysteria surrounding Roku has been doubly-applied to programs like Kodi, which (in much the same way that Roku is just a computer) is just software that (with the help of plugins) can be used to access copyrighted content... and a laundry list of other things. This nannyish approach to what hardware and software can be used and how is an unproductive and expensive game of Whac-a-Mole, which is why we've pretty consistently argued that embracing openness and innovation tends to be a notably more productive and profitable solution.


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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 5:33pm

    Next Up

    Sales of all computer monitors will be banned because they can be used to watch pirated content. (Will be added to Article 13.)

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

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 5:38pm

      Re: Next Up

      I would be more worried about those computer monitors watching what goes on in your bedroom. That is assuming that you have a computer monitor, or TV in your bedroom. Or that you keep your, ahem, behavior in the bedroom. -:)

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2018 @ 8:05am

        Re: Re: Next Up

        That is a risk that the spies just have to take. When you spy on people you are likely to see things that you wish you hadn't.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 24 Oct 2018 @ 2:27am

      Re: Next Up

      TVs as well! Why, they are often used for whole groups of people to watch pirated content at once!

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 5:35pm

    Growing pains are painful, but also avoidable

    It's gonna take some time, decades maybe, but eventually the judiciary will have some real concept of tech. Understand the difference between hardware and OS and base installation vs downloadable apps.

    But it will not be universal. There are too many countries that decry tech as evil to make it so. Or they want control more than anything else.

    The bigger problem is when one country tries to impose their rules on everyone else. That cannot fly. But it starts in the judiciaries understanding of tech.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2018 @ 10:02pm

      Re: Growing pains are painful, but also avoidable

      Perhaps if law students are required to do a year of science and technology before they get into a law degree things might be different.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2018 @ 3:31am

      Re: Growing pains are painful, but also avoidable

      It's gonna take some time, decades maybe, but eventually the judiciary will have some real concept of tech .....

      in use today.

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

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 5:55pm

    Does Cablevision have an internet department?

    If so, does anyone ever stream illicitly copied content through it? It occurs to me that the precedent that let Cablevision shut down Roku could be used to shut down Cablevision, if Cablevision has any kind of user-controlled content.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2018 @ 6:12pm

      Re: Does Cablevision have an internet department?

      Cablevision does have Internet capability. They follow the same practices as their US counterparts (I was going to say American, but America compromises North America, Central America, and South America so it is actually wrong to claim the US compromises all of America) and it costs more to have Internet only than to have Cable and Internet. Phone comes in there someplace, but since I don't need their phone service I have not considered it in terms of price comparisons. Cable plus Internet is about $35 per month. I say about as the peso/dollar conversion rate changes a lot. And they have renamed themselves with the really stupid moniker Izzi.

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

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 24 Oct 2018 @ 2:53pm

        Re: Re: Does Cablevision have an internet department?

        So basically, Cablevision went to court and got a competitor thrown out of business. What stops Roku from going to court and getting Cablevision prohibited from doing business on the same grounds?

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Oct 2018 @ 11:58pm

    Just think of the better products they could have offered if they had focused on their customers instead of imaginary lost pesos.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Oct 2018 @ 6:38am

      Re:

      "Just think of the better products they could have offered if they had focused on their customers instead of imaginary lost pesos."

      That's not even how normal industry works, let alone the copyright cult.

      Any focus on the customer will be along the lines of "as much as they can get away with without actually investing anything".

      Usually where copyright is concerned stuff like this starts with a lawyer keen on billable hours suggesting the sky will fall unless "copyright holder X" immediately retains them to sue someone or write a bundle of subpoenas and legal briefs. One of the many dangers of retaining a department which has as only Key Performance Indicator the number of legal cases it's working on.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Oct 2018 @ 7:14am

    'They're competing with us, destroy them!'

    The ban was the result of legal action taken by Mexican cable company Cablevision, which accused Roku of facilitating piracy.

    Or, in honest terms, providing competition for their service, which simply could not be tolerated. They sued to shut down a potential competitor, and as it's often used invoked the big bad boogieman 'piracy' in order to cover up a blatant 'felony interference with a business model' lawsuit.

    It's a pity the judge was originally duped by such a blatantly obvious ploy, and hopefully any future cases will go before a judge who isn't so naive.

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

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 24 Oct 2018 @ 2:54pm

      Re: 'They're competing with us, destroy them!'

      Cablevision also has an internet division. If anyone ever uses that internet connection for an illegal stream, Roku could take Cablevision to court and get an injunction against them doing business -- just as Cablevision did to Roku.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2018 @ 8:08pm

      Re: 'They're competing with us, destroy them!'

      It's a pity the judge was originally duped by such a blatantly obvious ploy...

      What makes you so sure he was duped?

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 12:42am

        Re: Re: 'They're competing with us, destroy them!'

        Bought off/corrupt is certainly a possibility, yes, but without any evidence to support that idea I try to give the benefit of the doubt that they were 'only' incredibly gullible.

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

  • identicon
    tp, 24 Oct 2018 @ 11:57pm

    Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

    Given that the governments around the world have decided piracy to be illegal operation, copyright enforcement is responsibility of all tech vendors. Vendors who create software or hardware are in excellent position to control what activities users are allowed to do. Thus tech vendors have responsibility to prevent uses of their tech which are considered illegal by the governments.

    This is similar issue to what vendors of red buttons need to do to prevent usage of their technology for launching bombs or nukes. Red button vendors are in unique position to know their technology properly, for legimative use in safety buttons -- but they need to realise that their technology can be used for illegal purposes.

    Thus there's responsibility for these tech vendors to control the illegal uses of the technology. If such uses are found, the tech company has responsibility to change the technology in such way that the illegal activities can be prevented in the future.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 12:20am

      Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

      What's sad is that there are people in positions of power who believe this kind of laughable crap, not just people who play idiots on the internet as a weird hobby.

      "Red button vendors are in unique position to know their technology properly, for legimative use in safety buttons"

      Even if there were such a thing as a "red button vendor", you raised your own problem with that kind of thinking - what happens when, despite all their efforts, the safety feature either fails or is bypassed by a bad actor? Should they be held responsible for misuse, or do you accept that they did what they could and go after the people who misused the button instead?

      If your answer to that is genuinely "attack the people who tried to stop the bad guys because that's easier than catching the criminals", you need serious help.

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

      • identicon
        tp, 25 Oct 2018 @ 12:30am

        Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

        > what happens when, despite all their efforts, the safety feature either fails or is bypassed by a bad actor?

        When these vendors gets sued, by that time their technology is already being used illegally by the market regularly. The vendor has talked to customers about their plans to use the technology for various purposes, and by the time that someone decides to sue them, the vendor definitely knows their technology is being used for illegal purposes. It isn't the first time when this happens when content owners gets interested in the activity. There will be tons of bad actors in the market, and the vendors have (still) responsibility to control their own technologies.

        If the vendor fails to respond to the information that the tech is being used by criminals, they deserve to be sued by content owners.

        This kind of information need to be decided and corrected when the technology is being developed. It's already too late to do it when the product is in the market. The tech vendor took a risk when they allowed hackable product to be released to the public and that risk seems to have exploded to their face.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 12:50am

          Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

          So, your answer is - when something bad happens, sue the people who did everything they could to prevent a problem, and ignore those who actually misused their product. Got it.

          "If the vendor fails to respond to the information that the tech is being used by criminals, they deserve to be sued by content owners."

          ...and if they respond and the tech is misused anyway?

          Look, I know this is beyond the intellect of someone who thought that advertising his internet code via an incomprehensible ad on a couple of local buses was a good idea, but you're asking for no tech to ever be released, because it can all be misused. Even if the vendor manages to completely prevent every predictable misuse of their product, someone can still come up with a use they didn't think of.

          "The tech vendor took a risk when they allowed hackable product"

          Here in the real world, EVERY product is hackable. Even your crappy code.

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

          • identicon
            tp, 25 Oct 2018 @ 12:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

            > > "The tech vendor took a risk when they allowed hackable product"

            > Here in the real world, EVERY product is hackable.

            Real situation here is that the customers of the vendor were rejecting the product because it cannot be hacked for their illegal purposes, and the company responded by allowing hacking it -- i.e. making it possible for criminals to misuse the product. Supposedly this gets them more customers.

            They really deserve all the bs that they're getting from the courts.

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 2:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

              Your understanding of this situation is about as good as your understanding of online marketing, it seems.

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

              • identicon
                tp, 25 Oct 2018 @ 3:08am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

                > Your understanding of this situation is about as good as your understanding of online marketing, it seems.

                Which of these assumptions is breaking:
                1) anyone who develops video systems should know existence of hollywood's movie studios
                2) anyone who knows movie studios, also knows about their piracy problem related to illegal use of movies
                3) anyone who is professionally creating products to the market are expected to follow the law
                4) the law says that movie piracy is illegal

                Those are the only assumptions this argument relies on. From (1) and (2) we get that the vendor of this hardware has been properly informed that their product must not allow pirates to use movie studio content illegally. (3) and (4) relates to how the law deals with businesses that are enabling or selling products to known pirates.

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

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 3:36am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

                  "1) anyone who develops video systems should know existence of hollywood's movie studios"

                  ...as well as movies made by the many other studio systems worldwide, the many movies made by independent producers and the vast amount of video content that's not movie related? Sure.

                  "2) anyone who knows movie studios, also knows about their piracy problem related to illegal use of movies"

                  They also know that a lot of those claims are utter bullshit, yes.

                  "3) anyone who is professionally creating products to the market are expected to follow the law"

                  The law which also states that people should not be liable for the things other people do with tools, yes. That's why makers of kitchen knives aren't prosecuted whenever someone is stabbed with one.

                  "4) the law says that movie piracy is illegal"

                  Yes. So, go after the people who actually broke the law, then! If I steal a car using a screwdriver (to give a silly example), it's not the maker of the screwdriver who is guilty of car theft, nor is it their fault for not magically creating a system that stops it for being used for such things.

                  What you think you're saying and what reality states are, as usual, not particularly related to each other.

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

                  • identicon
                    tp, 25 Oct 2018 @ 3:48am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

                    > So, go after the people who actually broke the law, then!

                    Here's a better plan: go after the people who got the money because of the illegal activity. There's no point suing people who got no money. But these people who enabled it are reaping all the money, so they're good targets for lawsuits.

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

                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:11am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

                      Well, thanks for admitting you'd rather go after the people with money rather than the people who actually committed the crime. Who cares for rights and justice when there's profit to be made, right?

                      Meanwhile, the fundamental issues that caused people to pirate still remain, and profit doesn't magically appear just because you blocked a useful tool for people who never pirated a thing in their lives.

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

                      • identicon
                        tp, 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:38am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

                        > go after the people with money rather than the people who actually committed the crime.

                        Well, my position is that the whole chain of entities is to blame for the activity, including:
                        1) people who consume (copyright infringement)
                        2) people who receive the money (contributory copyright infringement)
                        3) people who hide the money source (money laundering)
                        4) people who sell the equipment used in crime (manufacturer that enables the activity)
                        5) RIAA/MPAA (has knowledge of illegal activity, but cannot make it stop)
                        6) government (knows RIAA/MPAA problem but cannot stop the activity)
                        7) internet users (knows about activity, but does not reveal location of the activity)

                        Basically we can blame anyone who is near the illegal activity.

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

                        • icon
                          PaulT (profile), 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:50am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

                          Well, in that case I am yet again glad that the way the real world is constructed is far saner than you. You're literally advocating that you should be able to steal money from anybody, yet see no irony in demanding this right while attacking others for perfectly legal activity.

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

                          • identicon
                            tp, 25 Oct 2018 @ 4:53am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

                            > perfectly legal activity.

                            Good luck with that plan. Next week you'll be in ecudor's embassy without internet connection and need to sue them for violating your rights.

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

                            • icon
                              PaulT (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 7:30am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

                              So, you advocate exile for people who explicitly DON'T break the law? You're really special, aren't you?

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

                              • identicon
                                tp, 26 Oct 2018 @ 10:44am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

                                > So, you advocate exile for people who explicitly DON'T break the law?

                                Assange and wikileaks folks also claimed their pattern is perfectly legal activity, and nothing they're doing would be illegal. But when someone examines the activity more carefully, they're fleeing to embassy on sex crimes.

                                It's just that when your pattern is some sloppy reading of the laws, ignoring rules that have been in effect for 200 years, the only thing they can do is flee the country.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2018 @ 5:51am

      Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

      "Given that the governments around the world have decided piracy to be illegal operation, copyright enforcement is responsibility of all tech vendors. Vendors who create software or hardware are in excellent position to control what activities users are allowed to do. Thus tech vendors have responsibility to prevent uses of their tech which are considered illegal by the governments."

      Oh, how i wish that this was written in sarcasm. Unfortunately it is insane enough to actually be the bona fide argument of a genuine copyright fanatic.

      Who would launch this argument without even a casual nod towards the fact that according to this suggestion no one manufacturing cars, power tools, computers, home electronics, water, electricity, or common household chemicals could legally be in business.

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

      • identicon
        tp, 25 Oct 2018 @ 12:28pm

        Re: Re: Piracy prevention is responsibility of all tech vendors

        > a casual nod towards the fact that according to this suggestion no one manufacturing cars, power tools, computers, home electronics, water, electricity, or common household chemicals could legally be in business.

        Well, being in business of creating products is legally dubious activity. Any of your users have the power to sue you, if the business activity is failing.

        Sadly the legal uncertainty is overshadowed by the need for everyone to obtain money. So basically everyone need to be in business of doing something, simply because otherwise they have no way to obtain money required to live.

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


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