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Zediva Fights Back Against MPAA

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the alleged-mistreatment-of-electrons dept.

Media 112

MoldySpore writes "When Zediva burst onto the streaming scene earlier this year, they managed to do something nobody else was doing. Navigating around the copyright law, they found a way to stream rental movies not currently available on other services, because they were still inside the DVD sales window, and filled a role not currently part of the competitions' services. The service grants a 'rental' of the physical movie to the user, who is then able to stream it over the internet, usually with the option to re-rent after being played. By having it be a rental service, they were able to avoid some of the legalese associated with streaming movies outside of that sales window. Needless to say the MPAA was not pleased. But instead of making nice with the MPAA, Zediva has decided to fight back in the form of expensive legal heavy-hitters from 'elite San Francisco law firm Durie Tangri,' which has forced the MPAA to hire their own team of expensive legal ninjas. Zediva argues what most technologically informed people would when looking at this service: that they are essentially a rental service who are renting physical media, and providing the DVD player and a very long cable to the renter's TV."

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oh why not (-1, Offtopic)

sykes1024 (1159247) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122636)

first

It's all about control. (5, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122646)

The MPAA wants to control the entertainment sphere of the world. They don't want competition from newer more modern companies, so they use the law to guarantee no competition can exist. They don't want the "customer" to have control, they want it so they can maximize profits for themselves.

They just don't care about us the consumer. And they hate the competition. So they win by using the law because they can't win in the market place.

Re:It's all about control. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123458)

You are lying. You can create a funny video yourself and share it and they would neither control it nor want to control it. Any want is irrelevant as they could not.

Why do you have to lie?

Re:It's all about control. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123784)

but if any trademarked products appear in the video, you have to pay $15,000 per item or blur them out.

Re:It's all about control. (2, Insightful)

brit74 (831798) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123834)

(Sigh) As much as I hate defending the MPAA because they do want to extend copyright as far as they can, it doesn't mean they're guilty of everything.

The MPAA wants to control the entertainment sphere of the world.
No, they're fighting to control the content they created. No need to exaggerate.

They don't want competition from newer more modern companies, so they use the law to guarantee no competition can exist.
No company wants competition to exist, but what's going on here has nothing to do with driving out competition. Anyone can create a movie production company.

They don't want the "customer" to have control, they want it so they can maximize profits for themselves.
Yes, companies want to maximize profits (what company doesn't?), and, yes, there are many cases where we don't want them / shouldn't let them maximize profits in certain ways (for example, we broke up the movie company / movie theater monopoly because it worked to block any competition). Personally, I always thought the movie rental business was always really weird. Apparently, they can buy one copy of a movie and rent it as many times as they want. With this new "rental" business, I can see why movie companies would (legitimately) have a problem with this business model - it's a super efficient way of renting movies that would allow movie-rental companies to rent a single movie a dozen times a day. But, then, I can see why movie companies have a problem with the traditional movie-rental business, so I don't know.

Anyway, my main point is that the MPAA might hate competition, but they have zero control over what other people or companies create. They're only fighting to have control over the stuff they themselves created. No need to exaggerate, as if the MPAA owns all movies created everywhere by anyone.

Re:It's all about control. (2)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36124038)

The RIAA hasn't created a damn thing. Artists create, RIAA pimps artists on a massive scale.
They own the rights to the creations, but they don't create a damn thing.

Re:It's all about control. (0)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36124046)

The MPAA hasn't created a damn thing. Artists create, MPAA pimps artists on a massive scale.
They own the rights to the creations, but they don't create a damn thing.

Re:It's all about control. (2)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 3 years ago | (#36124116)

The movie rental industry is based on a very simple arrangement actually.

I agree to sell you a copy of a movie which I own(this is still legal for movies even if you can't do it for all media). As part of the terms of sale I agree to buy the movie back from you at a set price within a set period of time given certain constraints.

The movie companies back in those days weren't quite as arrogant as they are today and decided if you can't beat em join em, so they sold movies to the rental places at extremely high prices before they released them to the general public. To the best of my knowledge the price isn't as high now, but that's more because the movie industry needs video rental now.

Re:It's all about control. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36125854)

I believe they used to sell higher quality tapes to the rental places as well. The rental quality tapes would better hold up to repeated viewings. Maybe it was a scam but that's how it was explained to me by my local video store when I lost a tape.

Re:It's all about control. (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 3 years ago | (#36128088)

The movie rental industry is based on a very simple arrangement actually.

I agree to sell you a copy of a movie which I own(this is still legal for movies even if you can't do it for all media).

Right of first sale [wikipedia.org] still exists and conditionally covers all media as far as I know. (Conditionally because there are certain software packages that are leased, which can't be resold, such as on Steam)

Re:It's all about control. (2)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36124804)

"No, they're fighting to control the content they created. No need to exaggerate. "

This is why they have 'emergency funds' for those artists whose copyright they 'accidentally' infringe for nothing, then? Yea, I don't think so. Witness Canada's version, which recently got busted doing exactly that.

"Anyone can create a movie production company."

Assuming they have the money. You forget how hard Hollywood worked (and violated many patents while dong so) to become what they are today. They set a rather high barrier to entry in one form or another.

"No need to exaggerate, as if the MPAA owns all movies created everywhere by anyone."

They've been busted distributing a movie internally against copyright. Your words are meaningless in the face of their currently in-light actions.

Re:It's all about control. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123886)

It goes beyond mere "entertainment". They are pitching the surveillance ethic in there as well, and are trying to turn their "product" into something whose value can be manipulated as debt-to-product ratios necessitate. Need more money? Well, just take a loan against all this -ahem- wealth that we have stockpiled right here - the potential sales of this product, after mark up and full distribution is worth X billion dollars. How much can we borrow against that? What? Well, that's not enough. Let's bump up the value of it by $10/piece. OK, those numbers work. Where do we sign?

Good ol' MPAA (3, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122652)

Someone sneaks around behind all their dirty little tricks and they don't like it.

Comes with the territory, boys.

There Is No Cat... (5, Informative)

NotSanguine (1917456) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122680)

You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.
--Albert Einstein, when asked to describe radio.

Re:There Is No Cat... (2)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122706)

very, very long cat

Can't resist, have to say it: "Longcat is loooooooooooooooooooooong!"

Re:There Is No Cat... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122764)

What does Schrödinger have to say about people pulling his cat's tail? The next thing we'll see on the intartubes, is people slapping monkeys . . .

Re:There Is No Cat... (1)

derfy (172944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122794)

What does Schrödinger have to say about people pulling his cat's tail? The next thing we'll see on the intartubes, is people slapping monkeys . . .

Without asking him, I'm sure he's either ok with it or against it.

Fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123068)

You mean, he is both ok and against it.

Re:There Is No Cat... (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123070)

I think the way it works is that he's both ok with it AND against it, until you ask him.

Re:There Is No Cat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36125208)

The next thing we'll see on the intartubes, is people slapping monkeys . . .

Rule 34.

Re:There Is No Cat... (5, Funny)

i.am.delf (1665555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123228)

Because of quantum entanglement, if you have a long cat in a long box when you open the end in New York and find a tail, the end in Los Angeles is definitely a head.

Re:There Is No Cat... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 3 years ago | (#36124368)

But what if your longcat is peer-to-peer?

Re:There Is No Cat... (1)

RadiantPhoenix (2029232) | more than 3 years ago | (#36128174)

Then you scratch the cat's head and the person on the other end notices the tail twitching.

Re:There Is No Cat... (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#36125006)

Did I leave my chat camera on again? Dammit.

Re:There Is No Cat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36122732)

And here [encyclopediadramatica.ch] is a photograph of said cat. Please don't pull its tail, /b/tards get very upset when people hurt cats.

Glad they're fighting back (1, Insightful)

appleguru (1030562) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122700)

Glad to hear they're fighting back. In my opinion, they have a good chance of winning, even taking into account existing precedence.

...Pardon the shameless plug, but I wrote up a good summary of the issues, existing case law, and how Zediva differs on my blog here:

http://appleguru.org/blog/2011/04/05/zediva-movie-studios-and-copyright/ [appleguru.org]

Re:Glad they're fighting back (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36122742)

That's not a plug, it's blatant advertising aimed at drawing readers away from here, to your blog.

If you wanted to add to the conversation, you would have summarized your blog here for all of us instead of just saying "hey go to my blog for my thoughts". Then at the end you could have said "To read the unsummarized text: blogURLhere". That's a plug.

Sorry for the ARRRGness of my post...

Re:Glad they're fighting back (1)

appleguru (1030562) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123082)

Heh, karma is going to burn for this... Pardon me for not having the time to write and in depth summary of my summary (from my iPhone...). When you've actually read what I have to say feel free to come back and hate. Ps, my post did exactly what you suggested: I stated my opinion of this development (good for zediva for fighting back!), summarized my blog post ("a summary of the issues, existing case law, and how Zediva differs"), and provides a link to read the details. No one is forcing you to click the link... Or to read my /. posts for that matter.

Re:Glad they're fighting back (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36124812)

"When you've actually read what I have to say feel free to come back and hate."

No, we'll hate because you are detracting from the purpose of this site. Keep the fucking discussion here or get the fuck back inside your reality distortion field and stay quiet.

You're exhibiting the same thieving mentality of Jobs. It isn't welcome here.

Fuck yes I burned my moderation in this thread just to respond. People like you are a blight.

Re:Glad they're fighting back (1)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122918)

Can you actually name a case in recent history in which some programmer managed to skirt a legal restriction by being clever, and actually got away with it? Because none come to mind for me.

The legal system does not work like we think it does. It's not about logic. It's not about unambiguity. It does not work like programming. Our proof is just not the way legal reasoning works.

Re:Glad they're fighting back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36124386)

Can you actually name a case in recent history in which some programmer managed to skirt a legal restriction by being clever, and actually got away with it? Because none come to mind for me.

The legal system does not work like we think it does. It's not about logic. It's not about unambiguity. It does not work like programming. Our proof is just not the way legal reasoning works.

Google Image Search. Google cache. Google Books. YouTube. Need any more?

Re:Glad they're fighting back (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123188)

I, for one, don't mind your shameless plug as it is at least somewhat informative.

I'm curious, however, as to one of your arguments:

The consumer is the one pressing play. Therefore, the one âoeperformingâ the work is the end user, and not Zediva (in the Redd Horne case, the store clerks were pushing play). In Zedivaâ(TM)s case, the consumer is the one playing a movie that they have rented, on a player that they have rented, to a display in their own homes.

If Zediva is renting out both the DVD and the player somehow - then how does that DVD get out of the DVD box and into the DVD player? Are they auto-loaded? If so - who stocks the auto-loader?

This is aside from technical questions relating to whether they really are just renting out the DVD (given that they effectively transcode its content for viewing, and then stream it to the user.. no matter how much they like to avoid the legal definition of streaming, somehow), and whether or not they really have a whole server farm of actual DVD players playing back actual DVDs (i.e. one DVD + player per viewer of that DVD, and not just a single disc image on HDD/in RAM that gets played back with a user limit so as to be able to claim limited DVD playback), given that you can't access - for example - special features (as per their own FAQ).. which should be entirely possible if this were really just a DVD player being controlled remotely somehow.

Re:Glad they're fighting back (1)

appleguru (1030562) | more than 3 years ago | (#36125218)

From a copyright perspective does it matter who loaded the disc (Machine, human, Zediva employee, trained monkey or otherwise)? The law in question gives specific exclusive rights to copyright holders for public performances. If blockbuster wanted to rent you DVD players with the discs already in them I don't see any laws that would prevent it.

Regarding your point about avoiding the "legal definition of streaming," they aren't. There are no laws preventing streaming media. The applicable copyright law is against public performance. So as long as your space-shifting "streaming" can be considered a private performance (as I argue it can in Zediva's case), then no laws have been violated.

RE special features: it is entirely possible, and will be coming in future versions. But for now they've limited the buttons to play, pause, fast forward and rewind. You really are controlling the actual disc in an actual DVD player.

Re:Glad they're fighting back (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 3 years ago | (#36128578)

Oh, bummer.. I thought you did get special features. (I heard this discussed on the HDTV & Home Theatre podcast recently.)

That would be a benefit to me, especially if they have the 'real' DVDs, and Netflix (voluntarily) often has the rental versions of DVDs with no extras.

Re:Glad they're fighting back (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 3 years ago | (#36128458)

Alternately, manually load the DVDs into the players, no autoloading needed - if you want to watch a certain movie, you're rented the player that has that DVD in it.

Re:Glad they're fighting back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123678)

even taking into account existing precedence

The word you were looking for is "precedent", not "precedence".

You really shouldn't use words that you don't know as you appear to others to be ignorant when you do so.

Define "Streaming"? (4, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122726)

I'm not taking the MPAA side here. However...

One could argue that it's streaming if you're transferring data over the wire from a location outside your legal ownership. For example, over a DVI cable would be ok because both the source and destination are usually found in one room. They're found in separate rooms for high-end setups however. Even between two homes that you own might be acceptable (two houses you own on one plot of land). But... the MPAA could argue that if the source is from another building and company rendering services not under your direct ownership, the data is being "Streamed".

Steamed being defined as receiving sourced material from a non-tangable source not in your direct and immediate possession.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122870)

Or - bear with me for a moment - we could abolish the ridiculous concept that media is somehow different depending on how you access it (and should thus priced, released and controlled differently) and realize that it's the same legal object, whether it's played in a theater, bought on DVD, bought on pay-per-view, watched on broadcast TV, downloaded, or streamed.

Seriously, when you think about it, the entire concept is ridiculous. The whole system is preposterous. Staggered release by region. Staggered release by medium. Street dates. Pre-screenings. No-resale clauses. It's all patently absurd.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123062)

Unfortunately (fortunately?) it is not the job of lawyers or judges to legislate. Their job is to interpret the existing law correctly.

They sometimes (often) deviate from that into declaring new laws, but that is NOT their job, and we are better off when they dont.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (2)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36124022)

They sometimes (often) deviate from that into declaring new laws, but that is NOT their job, and we are better off when they dont.

You really should learn something about how the legal system works before opening your mouth. Case law is, and has been for roughly 1000 years (essentially since the Norman Conquest of England), a fundamental feature of our judicial system. In the absence of applicable statutes and case law judges extend existing statutes and case law to create new case law. Case law can be overridden by statute, and has some weird jurisdiction issues, but is otherwise binding law in any common law system (the US and the UK being the prime examples). Judges are SUPPOSED to write new case law when necessary. Of course, they do sometimes fuck up (creating case law when they shouldn't, or creating blatantly irrational/nonsense case law *cough*soylent green is corporations*cough*, but that doesn't change the fact that it IS their job. You arbitrarily stating otherwise on the internet does not change 1000 years of consistent practice.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123246)

Yes some may sound absurd but it's legal because of copyright. The copyright owner controls the ability of others to make copies. That means that your local TV station can not just buy one copy of the DVD and then broadcast it that night to a thousand viewers.

In that sense the manner of viewing is indeed vital. Each copy needs to be granted. Sometimes it's a blanket grant, such as allowing a broadcaster to broadcast after they pay a fee which is based upon the size of the expected viewing audience. Sometimes it's a very limited grant such as buying a DVD and only being able to use it yourself but not for public viewing (no projection onto the side of the dorm for college movie night). A video rental house are not able to legally make copies, but they can always buy multiple copies of the same DVD so that they can rent to multiple people.

It sounds absurd that there are different regions. But the ability to make a copy is under the control of the owner. If they decide they want their copies to have a special encoding then that is their right and no one else has the right to make an additional copy without the protection attached. Of course I think that once you buy it you have the right to take it across borders or to put it in a player that ignores the region encoding or to make a archival copy for your own personal use only.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (0)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123442)

Or - bear with me for a moment - we could abolish the ridiculous concept that media is somehow different depending on how you access it

We could do that, but of course there are tremendous distinctions between the different modes of delivery (if it were "all the same" we wouldn't really have an argument, would we?). Treating them as "all the same" doesn't really empower consumers as much as it empowers middlemen producers and hardware device makers: upstarts like these Zediva people would like nothing more than to make bank renting out movies other people made, just like Roku and Apple and Microsoft would love to sell every movie in the library at low fixed cost the day the movie's released in theaters, because they didn't pay any money to make it, and they're just the middlemen using their products to connect you with OTHER people's movies.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 3 years ago | (#36124820)

Call me a cold-hearted bastard, but I can't seem to summon up any sympathy for the poor, downtrodden movie industry on this one.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (0)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123460)

No it's not.

Why should you be allowed to, essentially, distribute a copy of a work when you don't have the permission to do so? Lets say I buy a movie. Do I, rather, *should* I, have the right to stream it to my friend, paying or not? Lets say I did have the right to do that. Well, what about illegal downloading like torrents? Those would become legal too, as there's little difference between streaming something you own and sending a copy to someone else.

It sounds like a straw man, but it isn't. The reality is that we have to have some control over the media we create (in the case of movie studios), or else the term "profit" will mean almost nothing. I'm usually a "free culture", "open source" kind of guy, and I love the idea of sharing things... but *only* when I have permission to do so! What this company is doing is obviously infringement: they're creating copies of the work and distributing them without permission. If they did have permission, like Netflix, Crunchyroll, and some things on YouTube, then it would be a totally different matter.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123502)

I wasn't saying that "distributing without permission" should be legal. I was saying that MAFIAA needs to realize that they're only hurting themselves by insisting on spreading their content as thin as possible by restricting everything. They need to switch to a single, unified release - when a movie comes out, it comes out everywhere, in every way. That would reduce piracy (half the movies I've pirated was just because I didn't want to spend a fortune at the theater to watch it, but couldn't get it otherwise), and you know what? it would make their advertising more effective.

And for what it's worth, the company in question actually does have permission, implicitly, to rent out the movies. They're paying for the same license Blockbuster or the ilk use. They're exploiting a loophole, certainly, but it's a loophole that only exists because of legal sleight-of-hand in the first place.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123606)

Do I, rather, *should* I, have the right to stream it to my friend, paying or not?

you're asking if renting a movie is legal..

this company isn't making copies and selling to others. they own, say, five legal copies (obviously the number is probably much higher) then rent them out to five paying customers at a time, same as any video rental store such as blockbuster, etc. the delivery method is simply different. instead of transferring the physical disc through the mail or driving it home in your own car, it's streamed over a network. only once the customer is done watching it, does it become available for someone else to rent.

there is nothing different about this compared to any other movie rental company.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123636)

they own, say, five legal copies then rent them out to five paying customers at a time

If they rent to five customers, and the sixth customer gets a "Sorry" error screen, then that is fine. If they have five legal copies and rent out more than five copies simultaneously, then the MPAA has a perfectly valid case.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123754)

So if I lend you my DVD of "Little Horrors of Munchkinland" do I have to contact the copyright owner for permssion to do so?

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36126526)

in the future, yes you will, if they have their way. not only that, but you'll be paying every single time you view any single part of it.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 3 years ago | (#36127230)

Of course you do! I'm talking about you ripping your DVD and giving me a copy of your ripped DVD, while you keep your original DVD. I have nothing against lending things, in fact I love it.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (3, Insightful)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123768)

Why should you be allowed to, essentially, distribute a copy of a work when you don't have the permission to do so?

Why not? Why should anyone need any permission to do that? We can borrow recordings from public libraries. We can invite our friends over to watch. Why shouldn't we be able to do the same thing over the Internet?

we have to have some control over the media we create

No, we don't.

else the term "profit" will mean almost nothing.

Of course I knew that's what you were getting at. There are ways to profit from artistic endeavor without copyright, without any control whatsoever over what people do with works of art. The way you talk, you'd think copyright is the only way anyone can make art without starving. Not so!

And there's really no choice. We'll have to move to a different business model. Neither legal nor technical methods can enforce restrictions on the ability to make copies. Declaring that everyone may be a pirate, and suing us by the thousands, has been an abysmal failure. DRM is a stupid joke.

You ought to be thankful the universe doesn't work the way the entertainment cartels evidently wish it to, for if it did, we'd all be much poorer.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123850)

I think your signature has some issues with your post.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#36124992)

.... It's all patently absurd.

They own the patent on it?

figures

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36125016)

You mean copyrightly absurd.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36122904)

Yes it is being streamed, no doubt about it. 'Streamed' as in transferred over a cable, or a set of wires, or wireless. But isn't that what a HDMI cable does? This is not broadcasting. It is the per-view rental of the content, exactly as a video store would do. Only the delivery method has changed.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123160)

Yes- now it is faster! And as a result the rental companies need fewer DVDs. Looks like if the rental companies are the main business then they need to stop selling DVDs for such a low price.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123184)

If you re-read what I said, I've already covered that using DVI as an example. HDMI is pretty much DVI with the exception that it also passes audio too. My point being in an inverted manor would be this. Even if it was possible (which it's not), you could run a direct HDMI link from Zediva to your house and it might constitute as "Streaming". However, run that cable 100 miles between two homes you own, and it would not.

Simple put, I'm making the point about location and ownership that defines whether or not the digital content is constituted as "Streamed".

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123148)

"Streamed" an old word with a new meaning here. There is no legal definition of this "streaming" in this context. If there's some sort of contract Zediva signed in order to get the rights to rent the movies and that contract that forbids "streaming" then I would hope that the meaning of "streaming" is defined in the contract.

Where the MPAA will have a firm legal ground is if Zediva purchased rights to rent one copy of a movie and then ended up "renting" to multiple customers simultaneously. Ie, if you go to blockbuster and they don't have any copies of your movie on the shelves then your out of luck; if they have 20 copies of the DVD on their shelves then they have purchased the rights to rent out at least twenty copies. The studios are going to purposely limit the number of rental DVDs in the market in an attempt to drive up sales of DVDs, and Blockbuster can't legally copy those DVDs to make more.

So the question is what is Zediva actually doing? If they have 20 DVDs and they physically play them in physical players which are then streamed over the net, then they're probably ok legally. However if they have 20 licenses but 100 people can watch the movie at the same time then Zediva is violating the license and acting more like a broadcaster than a rental firm. The physical DVD player scenario doesn't sound convenient to either Zediva or the viewer so I doubt this is the model they use.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123438)

It is. From people who have used the service : when you "rent" a movie from them, you see the output of an actual DVD player in a warehouse somewhere, connected via some type of standard output cable to a server that digitizes the stream and compresses and sends it to you. The player app allows you to send remote commands to this player just like pressing a remote control. You can't skip the commercials at the beginning or FBI warnings.

Zediva is doing the best they can to provide their service in a way they think might be legal.

If you go idle for more than an hour, your player/dvd combo that you rented is reset and made available for someone else to use. This is the big difference that hurts the MPAA. With Netflix, if you rent that DVD that Netflix paid about $10-$15 for, you will have it in your possession or it will be in the mail for days. No one else can rent it then. If you go to RedBox, you will have it for up to 24 hours AND due to the fragmentary nature of the kiosks there will be a lot of disks in a RedBox machine sitting idle.

Zediva eliminates this, so they have to buy a fraction of the DVDs of Netflix and Redbox. We can argue technicalities all day but it does give the people making the movies less money. In the long run, that is bad for the movie industry.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36127126)

Am I supposed to care that the people making movies decided to inflate their profits by limiting themselves to an inefficient distribution system? Sony Entertainment (et. al.) could trivially setup a streaming site that lets you rent every movie they own, without any need to shuffle disks or negotiate rights or any such thing -- if they feel that Zediva is drinking their milkshake they should to get their own straw, not try poke holes in Zediva's.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123218)

The people using this service "Own" the DVD player (renting it), they own (rented) the disk, and they own (rent) the wires delivering the picture to their tv. There is no difference between what they are doing and driving to the movie rental place (with a tv in your motor-home but no dvd player) and plugging their player into their wall plug then running the cable out the window to your tv (in the rv). At no time does the signal leave your (rented) property.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123258)

Are you seriously trying to support the enemy's mindset? Because that's what I see you doing here.

One could argue anything! Reality is relative. (And Wikipedia is delusional and egomaniac. [See below.]) If there are passive-thinkers and those without self-confidence accepting it, it becomes "real" to them too.

The goal is to
1. Support our reality. The one based on our observation and rational reasoning.
2. Don't oppress the reality of others that is based on their observation and rational reasoning. (Which will be different than ours [, and possibly even look evil to us], yet is just as much real and true. [Hence my comment about Wikipedia being such a failure. Their admins rape this rule.])
3. Fuck up / mindhack everyone who has a delusional reality that is not based on any observation and rational reasoning, and harms you with it. (e.g. the MAFIAA)
4. Laugh at or ignore everyone who has a delusional reality that is not based on any observation and/or uses irrational reasoning, but doesn't harm you.

Is it really that hard to get these basic, intuitive and obvious rules about living together and fighting on your own side?
The only hard part is to find out the difference between case 2 and 3. Assume innocence until proven guilty!

It's like some people want their individual freedom to be ass-raped.

Re:Define "Streaming"? (1)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 3 years ago | (#36125308)

One could argue that it's streaming if you're transferring data over the wire from a location outside your legal ownership.

You can play a rented DVD on a rented DVD player connected to a rented television in a rented apartment. Taken to the extreme it would be "streaming" for Amazon to transfer data to you in the form of a plastic disc, unless you want the government to start deciding which methods of wired (and wireless) communications count for the purposes of streaming. Given the wave/particle duality of light you could argue that a completely optical network actually does distribute physical photons just like Amazon ships DVDs.

KILL THE MOTHERFUCKERS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36122766)

Kill or be killed !! Take your pick !!

My money is on the big guy !!

It was never about technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36122792)

It's always been about controlling how a film is released. They traditional release in the most profitable form and work their way down. Streaming for all the enthusiasm of the end users has been a mediocre source of revenue compared to traditional theaters and physical rentals. Basically theaters come first with physical purchase coming second then physical rentals, streaming then cable and TV. The problem is theaters are looking dicey for the future and the studios have depending on theaters to at least break even on cost of production so profits come from the other sources. As theater revenues dry up, remember tickets sales have been dropping for nearly a decade only increased cost of tickets has kept the numbers up, they'll need new sources to replace the theater take. If they have to depend on lower profit sources you can kiss the blockbusters that people have come to expect goodbye. I know the fantasy is that somehow fan based films will take over but honestly are there more than a couple a year that are watchable and a handful that are actually good? There's no system in place to replace the studios so unless we abandon film altogether we need a compromise. If the bandwidth issues can be resolved even cable looks doomed so what are we left with? $1 a piece downloads in say 10 to 20 years? That may make sense for the consumer but if say a million people actually pay for the download, assume more piracy, then we're talking million dollar movies so expect a lot of reality type movies and not much else. Everyone is complaining about ScFi Channel and rightly so but that may be the future of all entertainment. Why? It's cheap to produce. I know everyone feels like Zediva is giving people what they want but who has more right to the content the people that created it or the company trying to make a quick buck off it? Remember all these companies including file sharing services are out to make money and the bet way is to offer content that people want but these services aren't creating anything they are simply leeching off the works of others. Honestly is it going to kill you to wait an extra month to see the new "Hangover" movie? That's really what this is about.

Re:It was never about technology (1)

Betaemacs (1737586) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123312)

You've got that backwards. Theatre revenues have been drying up due to crap offerings, horrible visual / audio experience, inconvenience and high prices. The solution is not to stop technological progress or force everyone to stick with the old inefficient (but profitable) distribution method. If the existing MPAA companies cannot adapt to providing quality products at the convenience / price point that the market will bear, some other company will. When the dinosaurs died off the little furry guys moved in and have done fairly well.

Everything old is new again :) (5, Informative)

AEton (654737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122810)

Hey, guys, for a good time, have a look at On Command Video Corp. v. Columbia Pictures Industries, 777 F. Supp. 787 (N.D. Cal. 1991) [mit.edu] .

On Command was doing literally this exact thing, but 20 years ago and (1) with VCRs instead of DVD players; (2) with the VCRs at the hotel front desk and you in your hotel room, instead of with the DVD players in California and you anywhere on the Internet.

Things did not work out well for On Command. However, the legal landscape has changed somewhat in more recent years -- a more relevant ruling might be the 2008 Cablevision DVR case (see discussion e.g. at http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2008/08/cablevision-wins-on-appeal-remote-dvr-lawful-after-all.ars [arstechnica.com] .

Re:Everything old is new again :) (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123270)

Interesting read. One thing I noticed is that a key issue was the relationship between the viewer and hotel, which made it a transmission to the public, which requires an explicit license. I wonder if something that was set up like a co-op, with a buying, a stake, and a monthly fee would change this relation so transmission would be allowed. That would be like a neighborhood buying DVDs and them sharing them amongst themselves.

At the basis is an attempt to minimize third party profit on movie products. The studios though blockbuster was bad, and now they have netflix, and probably have no idea where it will end. As most of this is caused by physical DVD sales, they would be good to stop making DVDs and just stream everything.

Re:Everything old is new again :) (1)

BillX (307153) | more than 3 years ago | (#36124360)

So basically, the entire issue lives or dies according to some small linguistic / legal hack?

True story: A local artist / hackerspace group in my town has a significant contingent of folks who homebrew beer, and decided to throw an event where the folks who brewed would each bring some in to sample & share - the brewers would donate a batch, and the non-brewers who wanted to sample some would toss in a few bucks at the door to cover the venue and everything. Long story short, the lawyers told 'em they couldn't do this, because they don't have a liquor license and this would constitute selling liquor. But instead, the lawyers said, they could have the brewers donate a batch, and the non-brewers toss in a few bucks at the door - for a "one-day membership" "in a club", at which "free beer would be served", and they'd be completely in the clear.

Come to think of it, this does sound extremely similar to the Cablevision case, in which a huge amount of legal wrangling centered on which end would "initiate" the recording on the remote-hosted DVR (which already both encoded and streamed the content individually on a per-user basis, rather than the much more logical, if more questionable, encode-once-stream-on-demand approach), since this apparently would make all the difference in the world.

What stops the MPAA from changing the DVD TOS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36122856)

What stops the MPAA from defining what 'rental' means on the DVD's TOS and explicitly stating that this type of service does not fall under that term? Legal precedent concerning TOS on CDs has been upheld regardless if user has agreed to them.

Re:What stops the MPAA from changing the DVD TOS? (1)

rbollinger (1922546) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122930)

Putting Terms of Service on a DVD doesn't really make sense to me. Terms of Service apply to an actual service provided, such as an online subscription or an communications contract. A violation of Terms of Service will revoke your privilege to use the service. Owning a DVD is not a receiving a service. What would they do if you violated the TOS, revoke your privilege to watch the DVD's you own?

Re:What stops the MPAA from changing the DVD TOS? (1)

Betaemacs (1737586) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123244)

Sssshh! If they announce that new "feature" it's all you buddy.

Re:What stops the MPAA from changing the DVD TOS? (1)

speedplane (552872) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123308)

A Terms of Service is really just a contract. A contract can cover anything from buying services, products, or virtually any agreement that you can imagine.

Bad idea (2)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122890)

Fools. If anything, the movie industry should welcome services like Zediva to buy DVDs in bulk since consumer sales of DVDs are down. Or at least compete by offering "official" streaming at lower prices.

Re:Bad idea (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122954)

If Zediva is indeed buying physical copies and controlling the rentals such that the amount out available for streaming matches their physical count, I don't see how they could be in violation. I didn't RTFA, obviously, and once lawyers are involved, all common sense is out the window, though...

Re:Bad idea (2)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122980)

Technically and logically speaking, they aren't in violation. Legally speaking, who knows.

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36124528)

Except, in many countries the license for bought movies explicitly forbids rental or pubic viewing.

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36124588)

Y'know, the company going to court against the MPAA with a team of high priced lawyers might have thought of that, and purchased rental licenses just like the ones that Blockbuster has...

Sigh, no. (5, Interesting)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122986)

Netflix and Red Box have blown a hole in DVD sales. It used to be that people would spring ~$15 for a new release to build up their DVD Library. Instead of buying 2 DVD a month they can rent 10 to 30 instead. This is a seachange. Zediva should be able to get away with even fewer DVDs because their turnover is going to be much faster. They won't have to wait for people to mail their CDs back or drop it off. As soon as somebody is done watching they can roll it over to the next.

Streaming, by the way, is not going to make up for lost DVD sales. The studies gets about 80 cents per steam vs a few dollars on a DVD.

Re:Sigh, no. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123024)

Either way sounds like too much money.

Welcome to capitalism, charge what the market will bear or STFU.

Re:Sigh, no. (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123030)

Streaming, by the way, is not going to make up for lost DVD sales. The studies gets about 80 cents per steam vs a few dollars on a DVD.

[Mythbusters]Well there's your problem![/Mythbusters]

Seriously, there's no difference between renting a DVD and paying for time-limited stream access. If the prices are different, then the prices are wrong, simple as that.

Re:Sigh, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123226)

There is a difference. One has the cost of physical media, a retail front end employees, and theft prevention costs. The one has the cost of bandwidth and storage. If the prices are different, it's because the cost behind them are different.

Re:Sigh, no. (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123518)

You're absolutely right, and what I meant (and should have said) is that the price paid to the studio should be the same.

Re:Sigh, no. (1)

speedplane (552872) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123286)

Really? No difference? One can run on nearly all types of DVD hardware, requires a physical store, and lets renters walk around and browse (at least the old model did). Streaming and DVD rentals are two different markets with different demographics. Even though the end product is the same, there's a huge difference with the whole experience.

If this is just a VCR with a long cable... (1)

lolcutusofbong (2041610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122946)

Home recording and non-commercial copying of video tapes is legal. The MPAA *has* to fight this, or they forfeit whatever tenuous claims they had against people sharing anything that Zediva has ever stocked.

Re:If this is just a VCR with a long cable... (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36122970)

How? The client computer isn't making a copy any more than your TV makes a copy of what the DVD player sends it. The 'really long HDMI cable' argument is extremely apt.

Cheaper than advertising (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123010)

Who'd heard of Zediva before this. So, what's cost saving by getting the word out by being sued by MPAA rather than the traditional advertising approach?

Re:Cheaper than advertising (0)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 3 years ago | (#36124326)

I can almost guarantee that they could run a 1st rate national campaign of prime time commercials where a commercial runs every commercial break for more than a year and still not get close to what this case is going to cost in legal fees. They've hired probably the most expensive IP firm in the US to defend a case that the MPAA is probably likely to appeal all the way to the supreme court if they lose. I wouldn't be surprised if legal fees top 100 million if it goes all the way to the supreme court.

On the upside if they do win they are likely to be in business all of a few months until Netflix copies the model and puts them out of business.

I'm not trying to play down the importance of this case, and I hope they succeed, both in business and in the court but in cases like this the guy that wins the battle often loses the war.

Good Team (5, Interesting)

speedplane (552872) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123236)

Durie Tangri has Mark Lemley on board, probably the most renowned IP scholar currently practicing. He helped put together the google books settlement. This case will definitely be something to watch.

Re:Good Team (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36124956)

Durie Tangri has Mark Lemley on board, probably the most renowned IP scholar currently practicing. He helped put together the google books settlement. This case will definitely be something to watch.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't that settlement include a provision that Abandonware/Orphaned books (books for which no rightsholder is known) are automatically the property of some Industry Association?

How long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123372)

How long before they (MPAA/RIAA/etc) start premptively imprisoning people buying or renting DVDs citing the potential to copy and/or stream the contents? ie: I rent a movie, I put it in a player with DVR or a laptop, and because It CAN be used to copy that MUST have been the intention. Hollywood can go to Hell.

Own Your Own Player? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36123426)

In the Christmas season, I was able to pick up a Seiki BD player for $49. This is a retail unit with Ethernet etc. DVD doesn't have all the extras so should be considerably cheaper than $49. Working with a manufacturer, Zediva might be able to bring cost down even further to make very small dirt-cheap boards, then add a "join fee", so that customers can own their player, hosted by Zediva. Would that make a difference legally?

The Crime Doctor's Diary (1949) (1)

Thad Zurich (1376269) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123788)

[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041267/] "... Dr. Ordway (Warner Baxter) attempts to solve a murder in a highly interesting place: a sort of call-in jukebox where bar customers may request a particular record to be played ..." Wow, I guess this concept has precedent. Anyone old enough to remember those services actually existing? Muzak on demand.

Where can I donate to their (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 3 years ago | (#36123790)

legal fund?

Re:Where can I donate to their (1)

RadiantPhoenix (2029232) | more than 3 years ago | (#36128190)

Here [zediva.com] , I presume.

against mpaa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36125546)

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Against-of-the-MPAA-arbitrariness/130838606992998

Bravo Zediva (1)

lsatenstein (949458) | more than 3 years ago | (#36126718)

Subject line says it all. Rental is the way to go. And everyone will go that way soon. Great loophole.

In tomorrow's news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36127898)

Tomorrow's headline: Zediva Crushed by 800,000 Lawyers and a Giant Pile of Money (Literally)
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