from the the-stupid.-it-burns dept
I really thought we were beyond this kind of idiocy by now, but apparently wherever newish technology shows up, there are technologically clueless lawyers waiting to rush in. Today’s example: lawyers for the Canadian Broadcasting Company have sent threat letters to the makers of various podcast apps for letting people listen to CBC podcasts. Apparently, the lawyers at the CBC think that because a podcast app is a commercial product, that means that you can’t use it to access their public RSS feeds that offer up the CBC’s podcasts. Here’s the email that was posted to Reddit, with the name of the specific app redacted:
I am contacting you regarding the unauthorized use of CBC’s podcasts that are being used in your <app name> app.
I would ask to cease immediately the use of our unlicensed podcasts.
If you interested in CBC content and podcast, we can discuss a license fee model.
I would be happy to have a call to discuss further our content and services.
I actually listen to a few CBC podcasts on my commercial podcast player — but now I have to wonder if they’ll still be there. Either way, this is ridiculously stupid and clueless. As Cory Doctorow notes in his post about this, this is a return of the old stupid and debunked idea where some clueless sites believed you needed a license to link to them. Because that’s really all that the podcast apps are doing. They’re picking up publicly available RSS feeds and letting people listen to publicly available podcasts.
But the CBC is going one worse here: their argument is that making a tool that allows someone to load a public URL without permission is violating copyright law — it’s the same thing as saying, “Because Google is a for-profit corporation, any time a Chrome user loads a CBC page in the Chrome browser without the CBC’s permission, Google is violating CBC’s copyright.”
It is an absolutely insane idea, and as legally ignorant as one can imagine. It’s shocking that a letter of such dangerous stupidity was sent on CBC letterhead, signed by someone who apparently got a law degree at some point. If the CBC is right, then all browsers are presumptively unlawful.
There is an implied license when you put something on the web that it is there to link to. If you don’t want people to load your RSS feed, don’t publish it, or add a password to it. To argue otherwise is to argue against the internet itself.
One hopes this is just someone who is incredibly confused, or was just searching for extra work at the CBC, because if this is seriously the CBC’s policy, then that’s extraordinarily messed up.