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High Court Allows Remote-Storage DVR System

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the score-one-for-the-cable-guy dept.

Television 112

Immutate and several other readers noted that Cablevision will be allowed to go ahead with deploying a remote-storage DVR system, when the US Supreme Court declined (without comment) to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that went against movie studios and TV networks. (We discussed this case a few months back.) "Cable TV operators won a key legal battle against Hollywood studios and television networks on Monday as the Supreme Court declined to block a new digital video recording system that could make it even easier for viewers to bypass commercials. The justices declined to hear arguments on whether Cablevision Systems Corp.'s remote-storage DVR system would violate copyright laws. That allows the... company to proceed with plans to start deploying the technology this summer."

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112 comments

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I don't get... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523029)

I don't understand why cable networks think that we need to pay for their content twice. I mean, I'm already paying for their content via the cable subscription fee so why should I even have ads? Either get rid of the licensing fees or get rid of the ads. This is like paying for a "premium" website only to get hit by pop ups on every page. I mean, I could even understand an ad or two at the start and after the end of the program, but why do they think they need to have 9 minutes of ads for every show when I'm already paying for their content?

Re:I don't get... (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523055)

Because they can.

If a significant number of people quit their service and gave the feedback "there's just too many ads for a pay service" then maybe something would get done about it. But they don't.

Re:I don't get... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523147)

The problem with that is... cable bundling. Theres about 5 networks I watch regularly, and out of them about 2 have way too many ads that I would give up watching them if I could send feedback. However, if I cancel those networks, I end up canceling the 3 other networks that I do watch.

Re:I don't get... (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527293)

The problem with that is... cable bundling.

The problem with that is... YOU.

If you want the cable company to sell you cable a la carte then you need to cancel your cable subscription, and tell them why.

By paying for those channels, you are voting for paying for those channels.

Since people can clearly survive without television, I am not interested in your excuses. When you buy a product you don't want, you clearly are showing us that you want that product. You obviously want those channels, or you wouldn't pay for them.

If you're getting local cable so you can watch your local community college's educational station, then you have a valid complaint. Otherwise, you are the problem.

Re:I don't get... (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28529383)

However, if I cancel those networks, I end up canceling the 3 other networks that I do watch.

It sounds like you've decided that keeping those 3 networks is worth it; you prefer keeping the existing arrangement over ending the arrangement.

Re:I don't get... (3, Interesting)

antdah (1057288) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525605)

For someone who only has access to the free channels, I was really surprised when I realised this. I don't get it, the networks expect people to pay them good money for access to their channels and then suffer through commercials?
And these guys wonder how people have the morale to pirate their shit...

I just read the other day, but now I can only find this link, that there are studies suggesting that DVR's are actually good (or at least do no harm) to ads. Television Week: Study Says DVRs, Ads Can Co-Exist (television) [mombu.com]
For those of you who understand Swedish: MMS (Mediamätning i Skandinavien) has some info on it [www.mms.se] , and they also encourage you to visit www.adage.com, I did this, and the results are interesting. [adage.com]

Re:I don't get... (1)

DRACO- (175113) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527283)

DVR's are nice to have. I tend to watch a commercial only the first few times it's on. I mostly only view them for their theatrics as most likely the product being pitched is either 1 not of any interest to me or 2 way out of my price range. It's nice to skip commercials I've seen before or otherwise don't have a need for. Pool supply ad.. skip.. Advertizement for the latest BMW.. skip.. Ad for reptile expo in a nearby city.. replayed.. Ad for oxy-banana.. skip.. Ad for dell pc.. skipped, replay and skipped again...

Re:I don't get... (1)

Andypcguy (1052300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526635)

You're assuming the men in the big suits are smart enough to make that connection. They also have a local monopoly so the only alternative consumers have to cable is satellite. Not exactly they competive evironment that makes companies compete for their lunch.

Re:I don't get... (5, Informative)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523157)

That's how Cable started out -- free of commercials. People got greedy though.

Re:I don't get... (3, Insightful)

CyDharttha (939997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523863)

That's how the Web started out - free of commercials. People got greedy though.

:-)

Re:I don't get... (1)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524071)

That's how life started out -- free of commercials. People got greedy though.

Re:I don't get... (3, Funny)

Greg_D (138979) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524153)

That's how the universe started out -- free of commercials. But God wanted to watch the thighmaster commercial, and we've been screwed ever since.

Re:I don't get... (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524185)

He liked it so much, he brought Billy Mays up with him to sell to him personally.

Re:I don't get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28524271)

Sure enough.

Give 'em hell, Billy!

Re:I don't get... (1)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524529)

Billy Mays' last words were "But wait! There's more!" Apparently we understand why now. He already had a contract with God.

Re:I don't get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28524279)

Where did you come up with "That's how Cable started out -- free of commercials."?
Cable started as a means to deliver TV to rural areas where reception by antenna was poor or impossible.
It was network TV (with commercials) that was rebroadcast over cable.

Re:I don't get... (1)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524327)

I remember first getting Cable, and its biggest selling point was no commercials. You had (and still have) infommercials late at night.

Re:I don't get... (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526193)

What are you talking about? Cable started out as CATV, which stood for Community Antenna TV back in 1948 when it started, to share one antenna for many sets, typically in a housing development or apartment complex, then it evolved into what we now know as cable TV. There was never a time when CATV or Cable TV were commercial-free, since it always carried broadcast TV stations which were commercial.

Re:I don't get... (1)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526427)

Yes, they always showed broadcast stations, but the remainder of the stations for the most part were commercial free, and that's what people felt they were paying for, not the stations you could tune in over your bunny ears.

Re:I don't get... (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#28529621)

I remember watching Nickelodeon as a kid. No commercials. If they needed to fill time for a show that ran short, they'd throw in educational shorts like identifying the stars in the constellation of Orion or an occasional music video (Fish heads, fish heads / Roly-poly fish heads / Fish heads, fish heads / Eat them up, yum!).

If I had kids, I wouldn't let them watch the Nickelodeon of today.

Re:I don't get... (4, Informative)

basementman (1475159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523169)

Actually TV and Internet costs aren't that different. I pay a monthly fee for the line that goes to my house for both TV and Internet. When I watch a TV show I see commercials, and when I go to most websites I see ads. The only difference is that TV ads are far more obstructive to the content.

Re:I don't get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28523715)

Obligatory pompous "the internet has ads? I forgot, since I use firefox and adblock" post.

Re:I don't get... (2, Informative)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524073)

Obligatory hosts file reply:

Get this, http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm [mvps.org] don't forget to go Start->Run->services.msc -> shut off dns client.

The only ads you'll see are the ones served from the site you're on. Helps protect against phishing sites too.

Re:I don't get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28527747)

thats neat, now give me a firefox plugin that can do the same thing but toggle it on and off when i need/want it.

Re:I don't get... (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526411)

Hmmm... that preview thing does its job. I was going to write: "There is quite a big difference in the costs. In the case of cable the revenue from the ads is going to the access provider - so you are paying the same person twice for the content. In the case of internet you are paying for access, and then you are paying the content provider."

But I'm sitting watching an ad-free channel on cable right now and I realise that I'm talking complete crap. The revenue goes to the channel, and they are often different. So for third-party channels you are completely correct, and it's only in the case of channels that the cable company owns (ie Virgin1 or Sky depending on who you are connected to) that the situation is different.

Re:I don't get... (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526561)

The other difference is who the money goes to, surely?

For TV, you pay the cable/satellite TV supplier, they pay the 3rd party channels (I presume), you watch the content, the content has adverts, the advert money goes to the channel, the content creator just sees the purchase price of the show by the channel.

For the Internet you pay the provider of the pipes (or at least your account on the pipes), they pay sod all to the website owners, you view the content, the content sometimes has adverts, the money goes to the content creator (assuming it is self-hosted or most magazine-type websites).

The only place it starts to get similar is places like YouTube, where YouTube changes from "content" to "channel" and the content creators see the purchase price (which used to be "sod all"), although that may be changing with some of the "ad sharing" ideas I've seen mentioned.

Re:I don't get... (1, Informative)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523201)

I don't understand why cable networks think that we need to pay for their content twice. I mean, I'm already paying for their content via the cable subscription fee so why should I even have ads?

You're not paying twice for the same thing; you're paying for two different things. Cable companies do not pay networks to rebroadcast their signals, so your cable bill does not cover the cost of producing TV shows. What your cable bill pays for is the service they provide: installation and maintenance of the cables that go to your home, etc.

The exception to this rule is premium channels, where a portion of your fee does go to the network, which is why you don't see commercials on the movie channels, for instance, and why they're more expensive than basic cable.

Re:I don't get... (4, Informative)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523261)

While the gist of what you are saying is correct, it is not accurate to say that "Cable companies do not pay networks to rebroadcast their signals." Cable providers pay a per-subscriber fee to the networks they carry, from a few cents to a few dollars.

I thought the Fortnightly case determined... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28527705)

...that CATV wasn't really a rebroadcast and that fees did not have to be paid.

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=392&invol=390

Re:I don't get... (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#28528537)

Which is exactly why everyone has 100 channels no one wants or watches and why carte blanche cable/satellite is not allowed. They are buying package discounts.

Anyone who believes the fees we all pay to our cable/satellite company doesn't pay for the content we watch is very uninformed. Advertising is simply additional profit for the networks and/or cable/satellite companies.

Re:I don't get... (2, Informative)

Cylix (55374) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523287)

Actually,

Cable companies can and do pay for non-premium networks. The idea is fairly straight forward. If you need more viewers and your product is not so much in demand you might not charge for the product. More often then not these "less demanded" networks are packaged together with more appealing networks. Common sense comes into play here... if you can get someone to pay for your product then you will most likely elect to produce additional revenue where possible.

This applies to both network and broadcast television.

Re:I don't get... (2, Insightful)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523207)

I don't know how this stuff works in the US, but where I live, the cable operator just catches the TV programs off the air or via some cable or satellite (I don't work for a cable company so don't know for sure), converts it to analog and sends both analog and digital versions trough the cable to my home. There is no difference between a channel that I can get off the air and the same channel on cable (except the reception quality). The commercials are part of the original program, so if the cable company were to remove them, it would leave a 5-10min gap of nothing where the commercials were.

Why use cable then? Because of the higher reception quality and the ability to see foreign channels that would only be available via satellite.

My cable company has a single channel of their own, but nothing interesting (to me) is there so I don't know if it has commercials or not (it only operates part of the day, the other part is ads with music, but it's easy to avoid them - just don't watch that channel)

Re:I don't get... (2, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523251)

In the US there's 4 or 5 OTA channels (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and maybe a PBS or WGN). Cable gives you dozens or hundreds of channels that aren't ever broadcast OTA. It's those channels that they're arguing should be commercial free.

Re:I don't get... (3, Informative)

Cylix (55374) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523325)

In the US, a cable company cannot re-transmit at will.

It requires a re-transmission agreement or the broadcast originator files a "must carry" clause with the cable op.

Must carry is used in place when the cable company does not carry your broadcast signal and they do not want to negotiate rates.

A re-transmission agreement is simply a contract with whatever terms and length both parties can agree on. Top rated stations generally opt for cash and services from the cable company.

Re:I don't get... (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523509)

I don't know what does the cable company have to do to be able to retransmit channels, but they do it. I can see all (or almost all) OTA channels in my country and foreign channels (for example a lot of Russian ones, also Discovery, History, TV1000 etc).

Re:I don't get... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523837)

Not exactly.

Must Carry channels are local broadcasters who might be locked out of the cable system had not they gotten together and lobbied congress to force cable companies to carry them.

Without must carry rules, many subscribers in small markets would have to (and would probably gladly) forgo local programming.

In exchange for forcing their way onto the cable system, they must provide their signal free of charge to the cable providers.

Re:I don't get... (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523265)

You can just quit cable if you don't like. If there are enough people like you then things will change.

Re:I don't get... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28523281)

Because the Cable Company (e.g. Time-Warner) is charging your for *access* to Content Providers (e.g. TBS) who sell ads. Time-Warner gets paid for the access, TBS gets paid for the ads.

Re:I don't get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28523701)

I think more or less, this is how it works...

People create TV shows.
These people license out their shows to TV networks.
These TV networks license out their networks to TV providers (cable, satellite, Internet, etc.)
These TV providers then sell their service to the consumer.

But, the ads, yes, could be seen as keeping the cost of service low. Why do we expect HBO costs like what, $15/month?

Re:I don't get... (0)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523769)

What? They do both in the US? WTF?

I thought the point of pay-TV was, that there were absolutely no ads. Why else would I pay them anything?

Oh, well, I'm a bit out of what's new in that branch. I haven't had a TV since 2003/4, and I don't know why I would want one.
Even Slashdot is better than sitting in front of the TV. I could not stand not being able to comment on a show. I can't even stand it on the sites of traditional news companies. I just stop reading them, because it feels so top-down of them, to only declare, and not hear.

Has anyone else had that?

Re:I don't get... (1)

jpallas (119914) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523831)

I don't understand why magazine publishers think that we need to pay for their content twice. I mean, I'm already paying for their content via the magazine subscription fee so why should I even have ads? Either get rid of the subscription fees or get rid of the ads. This is like paying for a "premium" website only to get hit by pop ups on every page. I mean, I could even understand an ad or two at the start and after the end of an article, but why do they think they need to have pages of ads for every issue when I'm already paying for their content?

Re:I don't get... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523891)

The channels without adds usually cost $10 to $20 a month. Your monthly fee for 46 or more channels of nothing worth watching isn't near that high.

think about that. 40 channels at $10 per month, $400 for nothing you haven't seen already or that doesn't make you tired and want to puke.

Re:I don't get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28525203)

The channels without adds usually cost $10 to $20 a month. Your monthly fee for 46 or more channels of nothing worth watching isn't near that high.

think about that. 40 channels at $10 per month, $400 for nothing you haven't seen already or that doesn't make you tired and want to puke.

There are practical limits to how much TV one household can consume. As such, if your bill goes from $100 to $200 but your channel number goes from 100 to 1000, it is likely there is more money to be made by all participants. A household might balk at doubling their bill and doubling the channels, but double the bill with ten-times the channels may be OK.

Given a system with a zero marginal cost (transmission of the access code or whatever), the most logical course of action is to maximize total revenue not revenue per channel. Yes I know ESPN may charge $0.25 per subscriber for ESPN Classic and that is not considered "zero marginal cost" - it is to ESPN (or their content suppliers and so on). BTW, I pay $30 for Dish Network and haven't had equipment costs in years. There is more programming than I can watch. As such, the value of additional content is worth about $0. In theory, anything the content producers could do to get me to increase my bill $10 more ought to be a win. This assumes the money doesn't come out of my going-to-the-movies fund or money they might otherwise get more of elsewhere (like the purchase of a boxed DVD set).

Re:I don't get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28529573)

What do you mean by zero marginal cost? That it doesn't cost anything to add a channel, it doesn't cost anything to add a subscriber, or both? So you pay $30 to Dish and haven't had any equipment charges, what does that have to do with cable? Try sharing your dish with your neighbor (who I assume doesn't always want to watch what you do). Now try sharing with 100 or 1000 people. Is there still 'zero cost'? At the very least adding a channel requires a tuner to receive that channel, and a remodulator to put it out over the cable. What happens when you run out of bandwidth? Is the cost of upgrading to handle that 'zero'? Also, paying $0.25 per subscriber to ESPN does not have anything to do with ESPNs marginal cost, it is the cable system that is paying it, so it is THEIR cost.

Re:I don't get... (2, Interesting)

Arcady13 (656165) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524541)

Nine minutes of ads would be great. That's what you got in 1969 on a one hour show. In 2009, you get 18 minutes of ads per hour. Yes, your "hour-long drama" is really 42 minutes. And your re-run of Star Trek TOS is missing 9 minutes of material, not including the "previously on" and "coming next week" spots that are also cut.

By 2039, the show will be 9 minutes long and you'll have 51 minutes of ads. And fast-forward will be illegal.

You harshed my mellow, man! (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525691)

Nine minutes of ads would be great. That's what you got in 1969 on a one hour show.

My memory is a little fuzzy from the late 1960's and all of the 1970's, but nine minutes per hour in 1969 sounds a little bit high.
I'm not looking for an argument or debate here, just if you know where to find this info, I would truly appreciate a link. Really! :-)

My fuzzy memory is only coming up with around seven minutes per hour, but again, I readily admit my fuzzy memory may be off base here.

To be honest, the only thing I truly remember from TV of 1969 with any clarity, is the Apollo 11 moon landing:
Springfield, MO...at my maternal Grandparent's house, all of us five kids, my Grandparents, and Mom and Dad sitting in the den focused on the B&W 19" Quasar(tm) TV, as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin approached the landing site and touched down. Then after some discourse between the Moon and Earth, Neil stepped out on the Moon and bounced around.
I was enraptured....multiple geekasms!!!
Then Walter Cronkite* broke the spell, and told us what we had just seen...just in case we did not get it the first time, 'live'.
Geekasms cease, and my pocket protector slid back down into the confines of my pocket....sigh

Unfortunately**, I can remember TV and commercials farther back than 1969, and the ratio of adverts to programming has increased exponentially.
I can rember half-hour shows being preceded with "a word from our sponsors', then a 45 second to 60 second ad, then the program would play 29 minutes...uninterrupted....rinse, and repeat.
Then it went to 30-45 second ad's, every '15' minutes....then 2 minutes every 10 minutes....then 2-3 minutes every 5 minutes.

I gave up on TV two months after getting my(then only available retail for 3 months...w00t!!!) ATI All In Wonder Radeon 7500, 64 MB's VRAM, 8x AGP, video/capture card.
After two months of 'playing' and 'familiarization', I set up to record "Trippin' the Rift"
I recorded 3 episodes, pausing REC at ad break, then resume REC at end of ad break.
3 'half hour' episodes should be 90 minutes.

The average for the three shows ended up being:(hours:minutes:seconds)
18:42= programming, 11:58 advert's.

I quit watching TV then, but the ATI card helped me use 'medium' graphics settings in Battlefield 1942!!!!(IT WAS A p3 800 MHz, 512 MB PC 133 DRAM PC)

By 2039, the show will be 9 minutes long and you'll have 51 minutes of ads. And fast-forward will be illegal.

Hear! Hear!
That's only assuming that the RIAA/MPAA chip is not required to be implanted at birth, you brave fool! ;-)

I'm probably preaching to the choir here, so I shall depart. [puts on Wizard hat and cape...enacts arcane rituals, then departs in a puff of smoke]

Cough! Cough!
*looks around: new basement.... Sweet!...new Dungeon!*

* Walter Cronkite was very trusted, and had much 'media influence'.
[disclaimer] I also readily drank Walter's koolaide without question, nor regret that to this day.

**Tongue_in_cheek...I am old enough to realise that I probably won't see all of the amazing things we will achieve, but I am truly grateful for what I have seen!!!\
It's a positive thing!...Like 'Johnny 5'...need more input!

Re:I don't get... (1)

sub67 (979309) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524581)

My understanding is that it isn't so much the cable operators as it is the broadcasters that insert advertisements. Yes, cablecos do, but basically the cable operator pays the broadcaster to show their content. The broadcaster sets aside x minutes of time for advertising. Cable company says "whoa, we're paying you to advertise? fuck that.". Broadcaster then offers a portion of the time they've set aside for advertising to the cable operator and all but the consumer is happy!

Re:I don't get... (1)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524945)

Are you from the US? There's no such thing as free rebroadcasting here. You're not paying for "their" content; they don't have any content. (Okay, maybe the lame help I've never seen a remote control before channel and local public access stuff is theirs, but by and large the content is licensed to them by others.) The cable companies are paying for rebroadcast rights for other people's content and passing that cost on to you. Also, unlike over the air broadcasting, cable networks actually cost money to maintain. Local cable companies inject local ads (and yeah, they get money from those) but if you ever watch Dish or DirecTV you'll notice the advertising is completely different because there's no local cut away. "Must carry" stations are different story. As far as HBO, Showtime, etc. I agree - you *are* paying for the content in that case. However, since I haven't had cable in years, nor have I ever subscribed to premium channels when I did, I don't know if they run ads on them.

I'm in no way defending their pricing which I think is horribly expensive in my area, but licensing is what it is.

Re:I don't get... (1)

wujing (1584803) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525347)

Zenith Watches [watches-space.com]

Re:I don't get... (1)

bentcd (690786) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525527)

I don't understand why cable networks think that we need to pay for their content twice. I mean, I'm already paying for their content via the cable subscription fee

No, you're not. You are paying for 40% of their content via the subscription fee.

so why should I even have ads?

To cover the remaining 60%.

(Numbers are examples only. Actual percentages may vary from network to network.)

Re:I don't get... (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28528419)

why do people pay for cell phone service / a data plan, and then pay to download ring tones, wallpapers, etc.? paying for bandwidth and content isn't unique to cable TV.

Re:I don't get... (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28529343)

I don't understand why cable networks think that we need to pay for their content twice.

They don't think you need to; they think you're willing to. And millions of people say that the cable companies are correct. They vote with their wallets every month. (Are you one of them?)

Heaven forbid you record a show off of tv! (3, Insightful)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523037)

Yikes you mean you can record a show off of tv and watch it at a different location? Wow what an innovation... oh, wait, I used to do that with Video Tape (VHS) all the time... time shifting shows too... location shifting them is no different...

Before you know it you brain cells will have to pay a fee for SEEING a show. Oh wait, that's known as a movie theater...

Before you know it you'll have to pay a fee every time you REMEMBER a show you saw on TV. Now that's scary.

Re:Heaven forbid you record a show off of tv! (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523211)

Before you know it you'll have to pay a fee every time you REMEMBER a show you saw on TV.

I'm torn. I think it's revolting that corporations would sue over parodies and covers [slashdot.org] . At the same time, I wish that the MPAA'd go after everybody who makes those tired shark-with-frickin'-lasers jokes on Slashdot.

Emad & Eric: Iranain Hackers & Cyber-Buddi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28523065)

From: emad.elharaty@gmail.com [mailto]
To: esr@catb.org [mailto]
Date: JUN 20 2009 16:27
Subject: IRANIAN HACKER COMMUNIQUÉ

Eric,

It's Emad.

I know we haven't spoken since that whole Michael incident [trollaxor.com] , but I think we should put our heads together about these Iranian hackers.

Meet me at the Carney's Point Flying J [flyingj.com] at 10 PM. Get shower stall 16 and wait for me. I'll be wearing a Slashdot t-shirt and drinking Bawls.

Don't be late. The future of Iranian hackers depends on it. So does the security of America too I guess, and gun ownership or something.

Emad

Read more [trollaxor.com]

Re:Emad & Eric: New Jersey peterpuffers & (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28523763)

Flying J manager at shift change:

Alright people, we have a real party scheduled tonight. 12 gay truckdrivers and 3 gay protitutes have reserved shower stall 16 for ten o'clock. I want the shower cleaned before eight, and locked. Mr. Emad said he will be wearing something called a "slashdot" T-shirt, and he'll be half soused. I understand that he looks like a midget gay truck driver, and possibly of mid-eastern origin, so keep an eye out for him.

Let them have fun, but GET THEIR MONEY UP FRONT!! Those peter puffers are always trying to rip us off!

Remote-storage DVR - the torrentspace... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28523167)

Good, my remote-storage DVR is called "The Pirate Bay." Glad that's all cleared up then.

The content providers won but don't know it (2, Insightful)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523183)

So the content providers sue the cable company for remote caching of shows. They really won this. Now, if the show is on a server somewhere, things like ad skip can't be disabled. There's no web page of hacks and work arounds for the "cable box". While the cable company was looking at this as two million remote boxes in homes versus a server farm, the content providers, stuck in 1965 where they played and you watched when they said to, freaked. They will figure out they won this as soon as they charge 5 cents per delayed broadcast...all passed on to the viewer, of course. Oh yes, that "dvr" fee is not going away, even if the DVR does.

Not that I disagree with the ruling, but... (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523185)

From the article...
Movie studios, TV networks and cable TV channels had argued that the service is more akin to video-on-demand, for which they negotiate licensing fees with cable providers.

Isn't this exactly what video-on-demand is? Downloading a movie locally that is held at the cable company's location? (DirecTV acts that way with their DVR. You have to download it). If so, the ruling may mean license fees are unneeded.

Re:Not that I disagree with the ruling, but... (2, Interesting)

Jason Pollock (45537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523269)

There is a difference between the two situations.

In the VOD situation, the operator is making a preemptive copy, and then rebroadcasting that copy when the customer requests it. The operator decides what is to be recorded and made available.

In the PVR situation, the end customer decides what is recorded, and what is played back and stored.

The question becomes, since the customer already has the right to make a time-shifted copy of a TV show (Sony v. Universal), the question hinges on whether or not the network operator is able to make a copy for the customer. Is it the customer making the copy, or the operator?

Now, there were some strange bits in the arguments, both sides avoided what would appear to be obvious defences (see the previous slashdot discussion), but that's what it boils down to.

To see how strange it was getting, they were talking about how long the video was stored in buffers in the device - too big a buffer and it becomes the operator creating a copy.

MythTV is awesome (4, Insightful)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523283)

MythTV works for me. It already eats the commercials from the recorded shows, and with simple scripts, I can encode old Star Trek shows onto my iPhone. If you haven't used it recently, I suggest taking a look. MythTV [mythtv.org] .

Re:MythTV is awesome (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523729)

Yes. The automagically skipping commercials is the killer feature. You controlling the media content and how you view it is the way to go.

Re:MythTV is awesome (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525321)

Commercials, Reality TV, Soaps and other shit like this is the reason that I threw out my cable years ago.
When I wanna watch something now I download it.
I simply refuse to let them cram their crap down my throat.

Re:MythTV is awesome (3, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526979)

If you record it with MythTV and play it back when you want and it automagically skips all the commercials you get to see what you want, when you want. That is unlike services like hulu that force you to watch it only on certain browsers and force you to watch commercials.

What is a commercial to MythTV? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28528755)

If you record it with MythTV and play it back when you want and it automagically skips all the commercials you get to see what you want, when you want.

How does it know what's a commercial and what isn't? Would it detect a product-placement-fest film such as The Wizard for what it is, a 90-minute commercial for the Nintendo Entertainment System?

Re:MythTV is awesome (1)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527207)

I use MythTV exclusively for my TV viewing, and I don't even strip out the commercials. Every now and then, there is a good or interesting commercial that I want to see. I do, however, skip through the commercials quickly. It takes my eye a tiny fraction of a second to tell me that I just skipped over something that might be interesting, so I'll go back and check it out. So instead of sitting through an intolerable five minutes of commercials every ten minutes, I sit through about four seconds of commercial material every ten minutes while I fast forward to the continuation of the show I'm watching.

On a related subject, Hulu is starting to become intolerable as well. When I first started using Hulu several months ago, the average commercial length was about 15 seconds every 15-20 minutes. Now it's 30 seconds every 10-15 minutes. Pretty soon, Hulu is going to be just as bad as broadcast and cable TV. The greed has begun.

Re:MythTV is awesome (1)

Cross-Threaded (893172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28528043)

Same here, pretty much. I use MythBuntu.

If I'm watching live television, and I know the length of a show, say an hour long show, I'll just start the channel, immediately hit pause, then go do something else for about 20 minutes, then come back, and watch the show.

(There's always something productive I could be doing for that first 20 minutes, dishes, laundry, whatever.)

When I get to the commercials I just use the fast-forward function, since the commercial detection isn't running. The only trouble I have is that if I try to get through them too fast, I'll miss the end of the commercials, and have to back up a bit. So, it's not to hard to keep the advertising to a minimum.

If I had a bitch about MythTV, it's that sometimes the commercial detection is too aggressive (even on the non-aggressive setting), and I'll miss chunks of the shows I've previously recorded, and will end-up turning off the automatic commercial skip, and use my fast-forward method to get through the ads.

I expect that there is probably a way to tune the detection, but, I haven't figured it out yet. (Meaning - I haven't really tried.)

Another bitch of mine would be the steep learning curve when first getting started with it, but, that's true with most things. There are so many things to configure that I had never heard of, or thought about, before (and I still don't know what a lot of the settings are for).

For a newbie, It was very intimidating, and RTFM'ing wasn't very helpful at the time, but, I slogged through it.

All-in-all, I'm really happy with it though. I have one hauppage analog card*, and two Avermedia A180's recording OTA HDTV, and the system is connected (DVI to HDMI) to an overhead DLP projector (16:9 format). (*This card handles the remote control, otherwise I'd ditch it.)

The projector screen on the wall is 8' wide, and the picture is pretty sharp. It makes for a great setup for sporting events.

I get a lot of WOWs when the neighbors come over to watch the games.

Thoughts from the consumer side. (1)

sprior (249994) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523297)

On the one hand I'm hoping that with a central office based DVR solution we won't be limited by tuners to how many shows we can record - three programs on at the same time? No problem! Set a recording from one cable box and want to watch it in another room? No problem!

However, if the new central DVR service is run through their existing Pay Per View software then the user interface (at least on Comcast) is just awful. Based on how laggy the remote is with PPV I think this is also the death of channel skipping - the control is just too sloppy to do it well, and you can bet your life the content producers like it that way and it won't get fixed.

Re:Thoughts from the consumer side. (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523393)

This is not quite the experience I've had with similar services. The cable box's interface is complete ass, but I was surprised at how responsive fast forward and rewind actually was.

I originally believed it was caching to my cable pvr unit.

Then I found out about the unencrypted channels and individuals reporting they were watching the forward and rewind of users.

Re:Thoughts from the consumer side. (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523667)

I would think FF and Rew would work off of local cache. hence they could be locally responsive.

Re:Thoughts from the consumer side. (3, Interesting)

sprior (249994) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523539)

More predictions. The cable companies are going to end up recording one of everything so "recording" something on the DVR is just a matter of keeping a pointer, so the next big fight is going to happen when a cable company allows you to "record" a show after it has already ended and the content producers cry foul.

And more control will be exercised as to how long you can keep a recording. Those Battlestar Galactica episodes you've been keeping on your DVR for 6 months? Um, no.

Re:Thoughts from the consumer side. (1)

Stray7Xi (698337) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526269)

The cable companies are going to end up recording one of everything so "recording" something on the DVR is just a matter of keeping a pointer

That's just compression. They're actually recording 100 separate copies for their customers, but since they're all identical they compress *really* well... You make pointers sound like it's a bad thing ;)

Re:Thoughts from the consumer side. (1)

sprior (249994) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526605)

I don't have any problem with them recording everything and happen to love pointers. As a consumer I'd love being able to "record" a show which already ended. I'm just saying that some cable company is going to try to offer it someday and the content providers are going to go nuts.

Re:Thoughts from the consumer side. (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28528079)

Actually, the Cablevision opinion discusses this hypo and distinguishes it based on whether there are copies made for each viewer or just one copy multiple members of the public share.

In the first case (what happened in this case), it's not a "public" performance and thus doesn't implicate the public performance right of copyright owners. However, the latter instance (your pointer hypothetical) is a public performance, and is thus presumptively a direct infringement of copyright.

Re:Thoughts from the consumer side. (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 5 years ago | (#28531089)

No, it's still your DVR. You can keep your recordings on it until you run out of space. Each cable account will have its own designated storage account, with access to programs recorded based on your cable subscription level. This is the only way it works, as Cablevision was forced earlier in the litigation to argue a 1:1 relationship in order to avoid the direct infringement of public performances. Whether, in fact, their data storage system keeps bit-for-bit separate copies for each account or just an alias will undoubtedly be part of future litigation. A strict reading of this decision requires that each customer have their own dedicated hard drive, just physically relocated to a server farm. A less strict reading simply requires each customer to have their current 80 hours of HD recording space, which cannot be accessed by any other customer. Cable companies undoubtedly want the latter to save on storage space, but it's not clear that that usage is out of the litigation woods just yet.

The cable companies want this because it means no longer having to buy expensive hardware for each DVR customer. All the cable box needs is a way to connect to the video storage center and authenticate against your video "mailbox" and pull the recordings.

The theoretical benefit is lower prices (or slower price increases) and greater storage space (or improved video bitrates) for consumers. The practical benefit, of course, is more profit for the cable companies.

Fair Use! (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523333)

This is a very good example of fair use.

Ad-skipping as a priority (0, Troll)

keith134 (935880) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523411)

Actually I could maybe see ad-skipping becoming slightly less of a priority now that Billy Mays is gone...

Re:Ad-skipping as a priority (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28523609)

Hi, Billy Mays here for Slashdot trolling!

Fuck you, asshole!

But wait, there's more!

You're a shit eating cunt!

Reply in the next 30 minutes and I'll insult your mother for free!

RIP Billy Mays (the best there ever was and ever will be)

Why is this... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28523461)

... tagged "no thigh court"? ;)

No win for the consumer (3, Insightful)

hamburgler007 (1420537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523497)

No matter which party prevailed in this case, the average citizen wouldn't win. Both parties are only interested in making money, and as much of it as they can get away with.

Re:No win for the consumer (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523647)

Yes. The case was simply about whose pocket your money goes into.

Re:No win for the consumer (2, Insightful)

Sp1n3rGy (69101) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524357)

Since when is capitalism so unpopular?

If I'm evil for trying to turn a buck, then the US is in a shameful state for sure.

I guess you are right. Let's move to China where... wait... umm, they like the Benjamins as well. Russia? Ohh wait, that was almost 20 years ago. How about the moon? Yeah!

Exhibition (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 5 years ago | (#28523621)

In the 1980's there was a case pf a video rental store providing a home theater room for renters to play their rented tapes. A court ruled that this crossed the line into the territory of public exhibition of copyrighted material, and it was disallowed.

It is interesting that this case does not cross the line into the territory of retransmission.

A few thoughts... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28523767)

No one has mentioned "Betamax decision" yet, have they?

The Betamax decision primarily dealt with timeshifting, this is space- and time-shifting, is it not?

The only issue is whether this will be harmful or not. While VCRs weren't necessarily harmful, because people kept watching TV as much as they'd normally have done, will this be harmful in any way?

Can't it be justified that as long as the commercial time is being sold at the current price rates it currently is sold at, it won't have a negative affect on sponsors?

Make commercial viewing more enjoyable. Shorter and less frequent commercial breaks. Perhaps bumps, like what Cartoon Network's Adult Swim does, which is an incentive to sit through them sometimes.

Re:A few thoughts... (2, Interesting)

dean.collins (862044) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526237)

I'm actually suprised how little press attention has been paid to this court ruling. This could be a very very big thing if applied to other digital content. http://deancollinsblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/cloudification-of-your-content.html [blogspot.com]

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

soupforare (542403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526489)

Indeed, I wonder if this will end up biting cable companies in the ass in the long term. In-home DVRs and slingbox-type devices are getting cheaper and cheaper. Will they go a-suing a customer for "excessive use of services" just to be overturned by their own case law?

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28528033)

No, because this case has nothing to do with "excessive use of services" and everything to do with interpretation of the exclusive rights granted to a copyright owner by section 106 of 17 USC.

No real victory here (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524229)

There was no constitutional issue here. Content owners can just go tell Congress to tweak copyright laws a bit and bingo! All fixed.

Not quite "free license" for cable operators... (1)

Bad Mamba Jamba (941082) | more than 5 years ago | (#28524669)

I'm not a legal expert but the flood gates aren't quite wide open. Referring to No. 08-448 [usdoj.gov] around page 21.

The Second Circuit repeatedly explained that its rejection of petitioners' public-performance claim depended on a range of factors: not only that each transmission would be sent to a single recipient, but also that (1) each transmission would be made using a unique copy of the relevant program; and (2) each transmission would be made solely to the person who had previously made that unique copy. See, e.g., Pet. App. 30a-31a, 36a, 39a, 41a.

If I read this right the cable operators are in for one hell of a bill in both storage and replication hardware to create duplicate copies for each user request. Storage is cheap, but since there are also legal (and relatively short) limits on how long you can buffer something before it counts as a copy this tends to complicate scalable data replication. Not impossible, just adds extra cost and complexity. Which no doubt will be passed on.

But by definition we're consumers and we get to vote with our dollars. If this service is a value add pay a little more. If not, don't pay for it. If you aren't given a choice (i.e. added to your bill anyway) drop cable and go Hulu, Apple, Blockbuster, Netflix, or pick your own provider. Nobody is holding a gun to your head to subscribe to cable.

The value adds I see are data integrity and (if Cablevision does this right) the ability to take my recordings with me if I move. Or preserve my recordings if my non-DVR box bites the dust, If you're attached to your content and don't want to invest in your own DVD burner or something this seems worthwhile. I'm not personally this way, but some people are freaky about their DVR content.

Re:Not quite "free license" for cable operators... (1)

sproot (1029676) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526351)

unique copy of the relevant program

And if the two unique copies are differently named hard links to the same data blocks?
Do you think the legal system can differentiate between that and a duplicate set of data blocks?

Re:Not quite "free license" for cable operators... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527485)

If I read this right the cable operators are in for one hell of a bill in both storage and replication hardware to create duplicate copies for each user request. Storage is cheap, but since there are also legal (and relatively short) limits on how long you can buffer something before it counts as a copy this tends to complicate scalable data replication. Not impossible, just adds extra cost and complexity. Which no doubt will be passed on.

Maybe, and maybe not. The reason the court distinguished transmissions made from a single copy and transmissions made from multiple copies is that "...the source material of the transmission-limit[s] the potential audience of a transmission in this case and [is] therefore germane in determining whether that transmission is made 'to the public'". Since it is the effect of having unique copies assigned to a particular customer, and not the actual mechanical fact which is at issue, it's conceivable that a court would rule that a system which behaved as if there were multiple copies, even when only one physical copy existed, would also not be infringing.

No, they did not allow it (1, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525875)

No, they did not allow it. Nor did they disallow it. They declined to hear the case. In all but a few situations, the Supreme Court has discretionary jurisdiction, and can decline to hear a case for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they want to wait until multiple circuits have considered an issue. Sometimes they think the time is ripe for the Court to settle an issue, but the particular case up for review is not a good vehicle for that review, and so waits for a better case. Sometimes they just don't think the case is important enough compared to the other cases competing for their time.

I can see it now (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526263)

Cable companies will have DVR farms, one for each channel, sucking up every show, every day, and making, say, the last 24-48 hours of shows available for free, in case you miss a show, but after hearing about it at work/school, you want to watch it. In addition to the default 24-48 hour retention, subscribers will also be able to submit requests for certain shows, and those requested shows will be retained until there is no more interest. The cable company could also update the commercials in their "slots" in each show, to be more current (a show from last month could have commercials currently running instead of historical ones), increasing revenues. If I worked at a Cable Company, I'd have my super-duper 200 channel DVR farm ready to go for this effort.

It wouldn't bee that big a complex, really, retaining two days of shows for a channel is what, about 50 Gig at "best quality"? From there, 90% of the shows immediately fall off the servers for lack of interest I suspect, and 1% may live on for more than 30 days (hit shows, TV movies, specials, etc.). This is the textbook example of the "Long Tail" economy.

I wouldn't charge for the service, I'd offer it as a differentiator and try and use it to increase adoption rates along existing cable runs, improving revenue per passed house.

Re:I can see it now (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526591)

It wouldn't bee that big a complex, really, retaining two days of shows for a channel is what, about 50 Gig at "best quality"?

That depends. With half of the channels we get on Sky in the UK (satellite) then you're probably talking more like a quarter of that amount by the time you remove the incessant repeats!

What century do you think you are in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28529083)

What you've proposed is market-based capitalism. In the USA, we killed that when we elected Reagan, and Obama isn't going to bring it back (for a while it looked like he might, but then he got elected and saw how great it actually is to be fuehrer).

I wouldn't charge for the service, I'd offer it as a differentiator and try and use it to increase adoption rates along existing cable runs, improving revenue per passed house.

You need a time machine. What makes money today is bribing politicians to strengthen monopolies or to reduce your labor and material costs, not providing better service and outcompeting other entrepreneurs.

It's not all about commercials! (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527039)

...new digital video recording system that could make it even easier for viewers to bypass commercials.

Skipping commercials is NOT the only reason to use a DVR. While that may be a great feature, for my family, it's secondary to time-shifting and an integrated, searchable on-screen program guide. Being able to find the shows we want to watch, record them, and watch them in any order when WE want to really is the key to good DVRs.

I've been using DVRs since mid 1999 when the first ReplayTV boxes came out. Since then, I've used ReplayTV DVRs, a Charter Cable DVR, a MOXI HD DVR, a SageTV PC-based DVR, and now a Dish Network HD DVR. And over the years, we have discovered that commercial skipping, while nice, really isn't that important to us as some of the other DVR features.

For example, we actually found that eliminating commercials completely was really NOT the most desirable. With the aid of some nice add-ons to our SageTV box, we had the ability to completely eliminate virtually all commercials from recorded content. We would be watching a recording of say, "Star Trek: The Next Generation", and when a commercial break would begin, SageTV would automagically skip over the commercials resuming the show. It was seamless and very accurate. The problem was that over time, we discovered that we had become WAY out of touch with things like what new shows or specials were coming up, what movies were at or coming to the theater, what local news alerts were going on, and yes, even missing out on some legitimately good commercials. Our Dish Network DVR has no commercial elimination, just a forward-skip button, so while we do continue to skip many ciommercials, we don't eliminate them completely.

So commercial skipping really is not the core reason for us to continue to use a DVR.

Re:It's not all about commercials! (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28528621)

i have also become way out of touch with ways to increase my lovemaking potential, sexy chat lines, and cures to my thinning hair.

Misleading Horsehockey (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527999)

"High Court Allows"

What bullshit. Denial of certiorari by the Supreme Court expresses literally zero opinion about the merits of the case. This is another example of the MSM getting Supreme Court procedure wrong. I've seen this "victory" touted elsewhere. It's not a victory except inasmuch as those claiming victory were assured a loss if the Supreme Court granted cert.

It would be a victory of SCOTUS issued cert and then issued a per curiam opinion affirming the COA decision. That did not happen, and thus the petitioners are (unless I misunderstand the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure) free to repetition for certiorari next term.

That being said, having read the opinion and cited its reasoning extensively in a law review article I just authored (and will soon be shopping around for publication), I think J. Walker's reasoning was dead-on accurate, particularly on the issue of what "public" means in "public performance."

Re:Misleading Horsehockey (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#28529703)

So this doesn't mean we are ripe for AllOfMP3.com to return?

Re:Misleading Horsehockey (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28530131)

Inasmuch as Allofmp3.com was based in Russia, I can hardly see how a US court decision could have any bearing whatsoever on its legality.

But even if it did apply, this decision does not make AllOfMP3-style services legal.

I do have a paper I wrote on something very similar. I'm finishing it this summer and submitting it for publication in a journal in August-September. You can bet that once (if) it's selected for publication, I'll be whoring it out on Slashdot. ;)

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