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Sony's Grouper Picks On Searchles TV

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the pot-calls-kettle-black dept.

The Courts 37

pradeepe writes "Sony's Grouper, a video sharing site, has sent Searchles, a social search engine, a cease and desist letter over Grouper videos being streamed through Searchles TV, "the Internet's first video player that empowers users to mashup videos back-to-back with one player using multiple sources like MySpace, YouTube, Google Video, or Grouper." Grouper claims that Searchles has "effectively stripped away Grouper's extensive copyright protection system, including the 'Flag as Inappropriate' button and the link that appears on every single page of the Grouper website to allow copyright owners to report allegedly infringing material, in accordance with the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act." It's interesting to note that Grouper itself is being sued for copyright infringement."

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a flaming wasteland (3, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371041)

Sony's Grouper, a video sharing site, has sent Searchles, a social search engine a cease and desist letter ... It's interesting to note that Grouper itself is being sued for copyright infringement."

Knowing Sony, Grouper's probably being sued by Columbia.

Re:a flaming wasteland (5, Insightful)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371273)

Knowing Sony, Grouper's probably being sued by Columbia.
And in other news [] , Viacom is suing GooTube for the same dubious stuff that Viacom's Ifilm and Atom do [] . Anyone feel like listing all the legal actions being fired off for movie and music sharing? Then the class-action stuff over DRM. And the investigations by various government bodies into anti-competitive behaviour by assorted entertainment companies. Then there's region coding, macrovision, HDMI and watermarking [] .

Frankly, maintstream entertainment has gotten so hostile I'd rather just play a boardgame with some friends [] .

Jews??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18371325)

The world may never know...

Re:a flaming wasteland (2)

Sneakernets (1026296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371387)

So, when does it turn out to be a huge lawsuit-war pitting big companies vs. big companies?

It's like a legal clash of the titans, and the little man still loses.

Or perhaps this is needed to knock some innovation sense into these big companies' heads.

Re:a flaming wasteland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18372487)

Knowing Sony, Grouper's probably being sued by Columbia.

Sony can kiss my ass. Again.

Just sue them (2, Insightful)

prostoalex (308614) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371079)

If Searchles thinks they're doing a legal thing, they should sue Sony/Grouper.
If Searchles thinks they're doing an illegal thing, they should stop.

This is really a non-story.

Re:Just sue them (1)

jimbojw (1010949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18372221)

> This is really a non-story.

I refuse to acknowledge your non-comment on the subject.

This is not the start, just the early innings... (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371095)

Here we go again. Technology HAS CHANGED the world of entertainment and distribution. While companies grapple to figure out how to make money in the new world they find themselves embroiled in, there will be these (laughable) situations where litigation is a bandage on the gaping wound their business is suffering.

This demonstrates that not only have things changed, but incumbent businesses have no clue how to deal with the changes. There are, of course, notable exceptions. By way of exception I might mention that though they are not perfect Google, Apple, Linux community et al, IBM, Sun, and a few others are active in the new business paradigm. By definition they seem to be leading when in fact they are simply trying to stay alive and relevant. The previous generation of entertainment and media businesses were built slowly as technology previously evolved slowly, not so much anymore.

There will be more situations like this but the only way to make sense of it is if the world, not just the US or EU, begins to listen to technology experts, consumers, and visionaries that do NOT work in Redmond.

The entertainment industry is going to have to learn to live on what they can get up front, and stop demanding they get so much up front. Google and others have already figured out how to steal their ad revenue while they were busy trying to not change with the times and technology.

This particular issue will resolve itself, and set examples. That is good for one simple reason: there currently are not enough relevant examples of how to do business. One company has a good plan, then another comes along with a mash-up thingy and now the first company has to complain because they are not getting the revenue. Its all about business, and more importantly about the inability of many businesses to think beyond where they are now; their inability to innovate and change with the times.

No, I'm not a billion dollar inventor or anything, but spotting trends doesn't require a billion dollar bank account.

LESSON: When you set up an Internet business, try to make sure that you are ready to make deals with other people so that your revenue doesn't dry up like a spit of water in the desert.

Re:This is not the start, just the early innings.. (2, Insightful)

loid_void (740416) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371841)

Google and others have already figured out how to steal their ad revenue

You are on the money. I agree with all you have said, except the "stealing." Google and others with "eyes wide open" have seen the new paradigm in distribution and advertising revenue and have figure out multiple ways to capitalize on it. And yes, those that are making deals will survive in some shape or form.

Re:This is not the start, just the early innings.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18372037)

There is a deeper lesson here and I am continually surprised slashdot doesn't pick up on it.

And that being, the internet is essentially driven by advertising. As are an increasing number of other "entertainment" outlets.

What happens when the advertising dries up? I know its alarmist and smacks of "oh no the oil is going away", but it's not. The first bubble burst because the advertising FAR outstripped the viewer base. The concept is simple, it's called saturation. Aren't we there?

Given that I think we are there, and personally, my saturation point was reached a long time ago, can we expect the media industry to figure this out ... in about 20 years?

To take another track, how many here use ad blockers? Come on, put your plus 1s here. You probably use an ad blocker, you might not even know it. Ever install NIS on a system? Notice the host file changed?

In any case, all these "hosting" sites that purport to make their revenue off of "advertising" are deeply missing something. And that is, how is that they can sell my personal time and attention? Phrased differently, how is it that they can sue one another for infringement, which is lawyer speak for selling something you don't own, when THATS THE ENTIRE BUSINESS MODEL OF THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY?

Sorry, I'll stop yelling now and go back to my rock. I'm pretty sure the world isn't ready for the point I'm trying to make. (and that I'm totally incapable of making the point as clearly as I should)

Re:This is not the start, just the early innings.. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18372483)

umm, Google charges per click, Amazon pays per sale, spammers charge per sale usually, therefore these MBAs running these schemes aren't actually as dumb as you seem to think they are.

And you act like they have no right to sell exposure to your eyes. "Selling your time which they don't own." You're enjoying content that you know is paid for. You're making a bit of a transaction there. It may not be UCC consideration, but you gain and you give up a bit of room for an ad. and adblock aside, every single slashdot user does in fact read ads, many of these stories are, in fact, advertisements and even the content that didn't arrive via payment to slashdot editors or slashdot itself probably got into the media via a media consultant.

You cannot avoid the fact that information is managed. I'm not making a moral claim, it's just the way of the world. The internet is a major medium for information, so the market for managing it will not dry up. The bubble was largely due to the fact that Clinton's US Attorneys were not prosecuting accounting fraud (not a political statement, but its true). Crappy business practices led to instability in speculative markets like dotcoms in the late nineties.

But Google and other serious internet advertising firms are not selling pagehits, they are selling clickthroughs. So you don't have to worry.

DMCA means... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18371099)

Don't Make CowBoyNeal Attack....

Re:DMCA means... (-1, Offtopic)

glittalogik (837604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371163)

Jules: What does CowBoyNeal look like?
Brett: What?
Jules: What country you from?
Brett: What?
Jules: What ain't no country I ever heard of! They speak English in What?
Brett: What?
Brett: Yes!
Jules: Then you know what I'm saying!
Brett: Yes!
Jules: Describe what CowBoyNeal looks like!
Brett: What, I-?
Jules: [pointing his gun] Say what again. SAY WHAT AGAIN. I dare you, I double dare you, motherfucker. Say what one more goddamn time.
Brett: He's b-b-black...
Jules: Go on.
Brett: He's bald...
Jules: Does he look like a bitch?
Brett: What?
[Jules shoots Brett in shoulder]
Brett: No!
Jules: Then why you try to fuck him like a bitch, Brett?
Brett: I didn't.
Jules: Yes you did. Yes you did, Brett. You tried to fuck him. And CowBoyNeal don't like to be fucked by anybody, except Zonk.

DMCA also means... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18371403)

Don't Make CowboyNeal Angry....

Odd names (1)

psaunders (1069392) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371153)

Searchles [surch-les] : To look for things (esp. on the Internet) periodically or occasionally, rather than doing so constantly, when really you should be doing something else more important.

Grouper [groh-per] : A person given to groping, i.e. feeling about in the dark for something, e.g. certain parts of someone else's anatomy, to which access is often restricted.

uh... (1)

heyyou_overhere (1070428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371285)

I've never even heard of any of these websites.

Re:uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18371313)

I've been using the internet for a good 14 years now and I haven't heard of or used 98% of the ones I see in the news like this. Maybe if I were a teen or something..

Flags (2, Funny)

Ikyaat (764422) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371293)

Grouper claims that Searchles has "effectively stripped away Grouper's extensive copyright protection system, including the 'Flag as Inappropriate' button"

Awesome I can finally view all those Inappropriately Flagged videos. Hi Five!

Details? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371323)

Does Searchles actually access and stream the content from other sites, or does it just provide the user with a browser-embedded media player and a set of deep links to the requested content?

If it's the former, then there are interesting questions about whether Searchles counts as a service provider for purposes of the DMCA exemption, as well as whether a website operator can limit who or what can access their website - and in what manner they may access it - via legal rather than technological means (terms of service, etc.).

If it's the latter, then it's a mostly simple matter of whether deep linking constitutes copyright infringement. However, it is confounded by the fact that Grouper apparently doesn't own the copyright on much of the content they serve.

Ah, good ol' sony. (2, Interesting)

Sneakernets (1026296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371355)

Sony as a company are falling. I'm not being a troll, I'm just looking at the numbers. they're losing money. Losing around 40% of your company's value in one year? surely this is not due to, I dunno, arrogant management and sneaky business tactics, is it? I mean, those rootkits didn't do a thing to Sony. So what exactly did?

deep linking wars replayed? (4, Interesting)

shalunov (149369) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371365)

This will be watched closely. Deep linking and framing are similar to the case. So far, deep linking itself has been held legal, but implying association in extensive deep linking is not [] . Given how well-stripped Grouper's videos are on Searchles, Grouper might have a chance.

Email (0, Troll)

dark12222000 (1076451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371395)

Heres the lawyers email, I highly suggest harrasing him.

If this story were the other way around... (2, Insightful)

feepness (543479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371827)

"Sony's Searchles Steals Content from Grouper"

And the summary would contain a link to Grouper, but not Searchles.


I don't like this comment... (3, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18372057)

But I was shocked to find how true it was for me. I seriously considered for a moment, and yes, if Sony was doing this to, say, YouTube, I'd probably see it as stealing. Not horrible, not a rootkit, but still kind of a bad thing to do.

Whereas my initial reaction to this piece was more of the kind of "Sony needs to wake up to the realities of the Internet, and if it's not legal to do this, it should be."

I think Searchles is probably pretty cool, but I also think that this is going to end up being a bit like several Linux tools -- for instance, ies4linux. While it's not likely to be an issue for most people, it's probably illegal for them to redistribute IE, and it's certainly not legal to have a copy of IE without a Windows license. However, they probably have avoided trouble because they're so small, they warn you that it might be illegal, and they do it with deep linking, not mirroring -- you actually are downloading IE from Microsoft's website.

Besides: What copy protection, anyway? Sending an unencrypted flash video to a proprietary browser plugin is worse than DVD CSS, and that's saying something!

Moral of the story? I suppose I won't shed any tears for Sony anyway. Sony can do no right, and Google can do no wrong -- but they earned these reputations, and they continually reinforce them. Compare that to, say, desktop Linux, where there are actually far fewer jokes about recompiling your kernel, as people start to realize that it's unlikely you'll have to compile anything while using Linux, ever, unless you want to -- it certainly earned its reputation as a geek operating system, but it's now working to correct that.

Re:I don't like this comment... (1)

howaya (1076509) | more than 7 years ago | (#18372733)

unusual view. what is youtube doing to everyone else??

Mashup Videos Back To Back? (1)

illectro (697914) | more than 7 years ago | (#18371941)

Sounds like, except you can do it with photos and music too.

Searchles? (1)

Sam Ritchie (842532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18372073)

What sort of videos does 'Search Les TV' stream?

Re:Searchles? (1)

howaya (1076509) | more than 7 years ago | (#18372921)

Sam, i think youtube, googlevideo, grouper, myspace, bliptv and a few others, i think. i just pulled this off their site hlestv&scope=all&x=0&y=0 []

Re:Searchles? (1)

Sam Ritchie (842532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18397285)

It's okay, I was attempting to be funny (and obviously failing). Perhaps I should have misspelled it 'Search Lez TV'?

To be fair... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18372119)

The original poster could have included the link to Grouper [] . Given two sites that no one has heard of, at least the ./ effect should be evenly distributed:

Grouper []
Searchles []
Grouper []
Searchles []
Grouper []
Searchles []

do7l (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18372259)

volatile world of a previously Am protesti8g bben many, not the

Yum yum tasty cake. Wheres my cake gone!? (3, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18372843)

Sony can't claim copyright infringement on content they don't own, and if they did, they'd probably lose their safe harbor protection. Their letter makes it quite clear that they're aware of this, and simply warns that Grouper is probably violating the DMCA, rather than violating Sony's copyright. Then adds a bit of weaselling over trademarks, and makes a few suggestions over unfair competition.

Sony might actually have a point, but this is mostly sabre rattling.

Re:Yum yum tasty cake. Wheres my cake gone!? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18372863)


Must get the companies involved right... Doh. Well you get the idea.

What did you expect - its SONY - (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18373793)

the company who treats customers and competitors alike - like shit.

Remember rootkits, remember star wars galaxies ...

Parasitic not Symbiotic (1)

Boulderado (868087) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375263)

Seems to make sense that Grouper wouldn't want another company to use Grouper's bandwidth to stream videos uploaded to Grouper and strip out all the ads so that the video plays in the leeching company's media player. If this behavior proliferated most Internet video services would die.

Re:Parasitic not Symbiotic (1)

howaya (1076509) | more than 7 years ago | (#18375639)

the same argument could be and i am sure is used by the large media companies. to use your kindly offered words, wouldn't the media giants claim online video companies arrange it "so that the video plays in the leeching companies' media players". it's a very circular argument.

I spaced out... (1)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 7 years ago | (#18377953)

...when I saw the words "empower" and "mashup" in the same sentence. Did anyone make it to the end of this story without losing consciousness?
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