by Mike Masnick
Fri, Sep 9th 2011 10:37am
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 6th 2010 11:55pm
from the ownership-culture dept
Of course, you can't copyright ideas and Cardillo had never actually registered the copyright on the proposal itself anyway, so there was no copyright claim. And, now the court has also tossed out the ridiculous racketeering charge. The idea that setting up a website to solicit show ideas is akin racketeering seems to be a bigger stretch than even some of the most ridiculous lawsuits we see on a daily basis.
Similarly, on the racketeering issue, the court spends a lot of time focusing on how there's no pattern of racketeering from a single incident, but it's not clear that there was even a single incident that is in any way illegal. The idea of doing a reality show of people traveling in RVs around the country is hardly unique, and the actual show is quite different than what Cardillo proposed anyway (his involved just his family driving from the US to South America -- the real show involves a bunch of families around the country involved in a contest).
Still, in the end, it's surprising that in a TV industry made up of folks who keep insisting that ideas can be "owned," that anyone would ever bother to put up a website asking for show ideas, and not expect to get sued.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 31st 2010 6:52am
from the how-to-fail,-ungracefully dept
Of course, it's not clear who's "at fault" here, but either way NBC ends up looking clueless (yet again!). It had to know that there would be value in getting such things online, and while the license holders might not have wanted to license it, NBC should have made the point that if it wasn't put online legally by NBC, surely plenty of others would put it online elsewhere for all to see, without NBC or the rightsholders getting any direct benefit. It's really a tremendous "head-in-the-sand" approach to dealing with these issues. Anyone who says they can license music for the show on TV, but not online, is missing the point, and NBC's inability to explain this to them coherently is a negotiating blunder. And, because of that, others get all the benefit of the viral content, and NBC looks clueless online.
from the well,-that's-convincing dept
NBC has now replied, but has done so in a misleading manner -- claiming that "viewers had access to more coverage than in any prior Winter Olympics." Now, this is misleading by omission on two separate accounts. First, note the use of "Winter Olympics." Two years ago, NBC actually did provide greater access to its Summer Olympics coverage online. Four years ago, at the last Winter Olympics, broadband was more limited and you can't really compare the two. So that point is somewhat meaningless. Second, since there was no direct competition in the US, it's also a meaningless statement. However, if you look at how online coverage of the Olympics was handled in other countries, you quickly realize that NBC did a terrible job and greatly limited viewers. For example, we regularly heard from folks in Canada, who noted they could access almost everything via online streams.
NBC further makes this questionable claim:
"Without this hybrid approach to ad-supported broadcast households and (pay-TV) households, NBCU would simply not be able to bring our complete Olympics coverage to the American public."Let's see... you took an amazingly popular sporting event, pissed off a ton of people who wanted to watch it by making it harder to watch and apparently lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. And now you're suggesting this was a successful strategy? Wow. Perhaps if you had provided more of what consumers actually wanted, you would have found a better business model.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 29th 2010 11:30am
from the lawsuit-insanity dept
Hulavision and principal Errol Hula claim that the company developed technology to deliver television programs directly to viewers online. Hula then met with NBCU business development exec Raymond Vergel de Dios at a Las Vegas trade show and was invited to have further discussions about working together. In the spring of 2006, Hula and NBCU allegedly signed a nondisclosure agreement, after which Hula revealed his company's business model, marketing strategy, product roadmap and a "shared revenue model chart" that included valuable trade secrets.Yes. Apparently he seems to think that the concept, technology and business model of taking TV shows and putting them online is his and his alone. As if NBC wasn't likely to figure out how to take video and put it online. And, really, if they were going to take the name from Hula, you'd at least think they'd use a name that was a lot more indicative of video online. There is simply no benefit at all to NBC purposely trying to take Hula's name for Hulu.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 23rd 2010 5:33pm
from the lemme-explain-how-the-internet-works... dept
The latest is that it wasted almost no time before blocking the new Kylo browser from Hillcrest labs that, like Boxee, was designed to better format the content for television.
This is typical short-sighted thinking from the likes of NBC bosses who are bizarrely afraid that people might watch authorized television shows on their television. Of course, the real fear is that if people start doing this, the cable and satellite companies might start losing business, meaning that they'll pay a lot less to NBC to carry their shows. This is such typical thinking from NBC execs, who seem to go out of their way to pretend that they can hold people back from doing what they want, because it doesn't agree with NBC's increasingly obsolete business model. So instead of letting people watch authorized content, with very high paying advertising, they're instead driving people to get the content through unauthorized means. It's bizarre that anyone could think this is a smart idea -- but, then again, we're talking about NBC management here. They think that downloading movies is hurting the American corn farmer... so logic has never really been a strong suit.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 16th 2010 12:37pm
from the recognizing-the-future dept
This talk was given by Tim Kring, creator of the popular TV show Heroes, and he made some interesting points -- noting that he's "honored" that Heroes is the most "illegally" downloaded TV show out there, because "we'll take audience anywhere we can get it." But he's not just sitting back. The reason he doesn't care if people are watching the show on TV or elsewhere is because they're really working on ways to connect with fans in much deeper ways, including creating a pretty complex and massive alternative reality game that had true fans of the show actively involved -- such that they knew about certain characters and important plot points way before they appeared on the small screen, and were made to feel like actual participants in the story. As he noted, "people want to participate in their TV shows."
Again, this is a point that has been made before -- but so many of the suits upstairs still seem to think that TV is a purely broadcast media, not one where people want to communicate and participate in meaningful ways (and, yes, that means a lot more than just calling or texting a phone number to "vote" on something). It's great to see the folks actually making these stories are understanding this, because eventually that thinking will begin to become more common, rather than seem like some crazy idea to appease "the internet folks." We're not there yet, of course. NBC, which airs Heroes is still freaking out about those illegal downloads and wasting tons of money and resources claiming that it must be stopped -- all while its basic network schedule has been a huge disaster. If NBC top brass listened to folks like Kring, and realized the challenge is to make people happy, rather than spending so much time trying to force them into "the way NBC wants things to work," perhaps the network wouldn't be in so much trouble.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 9th 2010 9:22am
from the you-can't-be-serious dept
And to prove it, NBC Universal is apparently going to make things even worse this time around. TorrentFreak points us to a MediaWeek piece that describes NBC Universal's "plan to fight piracy," that makes so little sense it makes the whole Jay Leno fiasco look well-organized.
Rather than giving people a choice, NBC is limiting its live streaming even more. There are 300 events at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and NBC is going to stream a grand total of two of them live online: curling and hockey. And, then its spending a ton of wasted effort getting lots of other sites to try to block live streams of Olympic events. You know what would have stopped those live streams in a way that NBC could have profited from? Providing those live streams directly. What sort of company sees that there's demand for a product and then purposely decides to not offer it and to actively stop others who are trying to offer it? Wow!
NBC's explanation for all this is just as bizarre:
"One of the things we learned in Beijing is that people really go to the Web for highlights," said Perkins Miller, svp, digital media at NBCPerhaps that's because you didn't offer much live streaming last time around, and the only events you did so on were the events no one cared about.
But, of course, the best comes from Rick "oh-those -poor-corn-farmers-decimated-by-piracy" Cotton, NBC's general counsel, who seems so fixated on "stopping piracy!!!" that he seems oblivious to the concept of providing real value:
"Our aim is to make access to pirated material inconvenient, low quality and hard to find," said Rick Cotton, NBC's evp and general counsel. In terms of Web piracy, "you are never going to go to zero. But there has been a sea change in terms of recognition of the problem."Again, you solve the problem of people going elsewhere by giving them what they want, not purposely deciding not to give them what they want and then getting upset when they go find it elsewhere.
And you wonder why, for the first time ever, a broadcaster is expected to lose money on the Olympics?
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 5th 2010 7:58am
from the but-what-about-the-corn-farmers dept
Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes....So how did Zucker respond when asked about it by Congressman Rick Boucher? He blamed Hulu for making the decision, and falsely claimed that Boxee illegally access Hulu content:
The maddening part of writing this blog entry is that we realize that there is no immediate win here for users. Please know that we take very seriously our role of representing users such that we are able to provide more and more content in more and more ways over time. We embrace this activity in ways that respect content owners' -- and even the entire industry's -- challenges to create great content that users love. Yes, it's a complex matter. A tough mission, and a never-ending one, but one we are passionately committed to.
For those Boxee users reading this post, we understand and appreciate that you're likely to tell us that we're nuts. Please know that we do share the same interests and won't stop innovating in support of the bigger mission.
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA): What about Boxee? Mr. Zucker you probably are in a better position to answer that. Did Hulu block the Boxee users from access to the Hulu programs?Of course, that's a flat out wrong, as Boxee was not illegally "taking" the content at all. Boxee is a browser, like Firefox. If what Boxee does is illegal so is accessing Hulu with Firefox or IE. But it's even worse than that, because last year, in a different situation, Zucker admitted that he had been a part of the decision makers to have Hulu block Boxee, telling Kara Swisher that "our vision" was to block Boxee in an effort to keep "Hulu being an online experience" rather than one you could access via a TV.
Zucker (NBC): This was a decision made by the Hulu management to, uh, what Boxee was doing was illegally taking the content that was on Hulu without any business deal. And, you know, all, all the, we have several distributors, actually many distributors of the Hulu content that we have legal distribution deals with so we don't preclude distribution deals. What we preclude are those who illegally take that content.
So why would Zucker flat out lie during a Congressional hearing, and throw Hulu under the bus while doing so? Does he not understand how Boxee works? Did he forget his own dealings with Hulu? Or is he just making stuff up in a Congressional hearing?
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 13th 2009 6:33am
from the blurring-boundaries dept
Reader James Thomas sends in an example of this blurring of the lines that occurred recently with Saturday Night Live. Apparently, on the SNL the night before the Superbowl, there were three skits "MacGruber" skits (a parody of the popular classic TV show MacGyver) each of which had a totally over-the-top promotion of Pepsi. That part may seem like traditional product placement (though, oddly over the top), but the interesting part was that the next night, during the Superbowl, NBC actually showed one of those sketches during a commercial break. In other words, the sketch itself was then repurposed as "commercial" content -- thus blurring the lines completely. I'm not sure how effective this was (personally, I don't find the MacGruber skits funny at all), but it does demonstrate some of how things are changing. If you did the same thing with content that actually was enjoyable, I could see it getting a much better reaction.