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December 16, 2009

Justin.tv defends live streaming video

Posted: 10:19 AM ET

The CEO of the popular live video site Justin.tv has been invited to testify before the House Judiciary Committee today on the topic of live sports online.

A user streams ESPNHD live on Justin.tv
A user streams ESPNHD live on Justin.tv

Justin.tv claims it is "the leader in live video and the place to broadcast and share video online." The problem, as Congress sees it, is that too many of those users choose to share copyrighted content.

I'll admit that I am a chief offender. I have tuned to Justin.tv several times in the past to watch college football games that I could not get on Comcast. The video quality is poor and I have to watch the game on my computer screen, but it beats waiting for the ESPN highlights.

Twice during a recent Tennessee game the broadcast copyright owner filed a DMCA takedown notice and the stream I was watching was removed. However, copyright owners cannot police an entire social network. The Tennessee feed I was watching had been removed, but I had dozens of other user-generated streams of the game to watch.

Janko Roettgers of newteevee.com calls live streaming "the latest battleground between sports fans that don’t want to pay subscription fees and broadcasters trying to protect their content online."

Justin.tv's online blog highlights partnerships the site has made with many copyright owners, and CEO Michael Seibel will likely insist that the company is involved in fighting piracy during today's hearing. But Mike Masnick at TechDirt doesn't see the problem.

The ability to "live stream" is something that's almost entirely brand new, and it really does change the way people can interact. But, live streaming will almost always create some sort of "copyright infringement" or "piracy," which suggests the real problem isn't with live streaming, but with copyright laws.

Whatever your opinion, today's hearing will provide an interesting look at the fight between producers who want strict control over their content and social networks that encourage sharing.

Watch the hearing on C-Span.

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Filed under: DRM • file sharing • Internet • online news • piracy


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Dale   December 16th, 2009 9:08 pm ET

The problem is copyright light. Just about every single person violates it everyday wither they know it or not. If hook your cable through your computer to your tv. You violate copyright nonstop. If you have a VCR, or blueray player hooked up and the cable connection goes through to connect to your tv, you again violate copyright law. Does anybody care about it? No. But does it violate the law? Yes. Because the Supreme Court said that when a work is just made up in electronic form in computer ram it is considered a copy. Not just that, but web browsers constantly violate copyright law. After all, your computer has to have some way of viewing that information. Often times browsers will predownload webpages, which probably also violates terms of services for many websites.

Back to copyright though. I'm surprised video makers have no sued the TV industry. When they are constantly upgrading technology with new video processing they are creating derivative works without the copyright holder's permission. Now we can all say this is silly, but the truth hurts.


Su4v3   December 17th, 2009 7:15 pm ET

If you're allowed to have guns, you should be allowed to stream video. The law says it's wrong to stream copyrighted content, the same way that it's wrong to use your gun against someone.

In both ways, there are legitimate uses for it, and ultimately depends on the user.

So, if streaming is made illegal, or file sharing is made illegal, guns should be illegal too!


Sandra Orion   December 18th, 2009 12:12 pm ET

It will be interesting to see how this plays out now that mobile devices will be able to stream content. Regulators should accept that the old model of broadcast TV is dying and more people are moving over to viewing content online. Consumers are always going to find a way to get a better deal when it comes to entertainment.


MisterRN   December 18th, 2009 3:44 pm ET

I just don't understand why there is such an issue with this. The reasoning given against music downloads is that people download music that they would otherwise buy. This is not the case with sports. Due to the economy, I had to relocate a long ways from my home area. How does my watching a Pittsburgh Steelers or Penguins game on the internet take one penny out of anyone's pocket? This isn't something I could buy. If I can't see it online, I do without. At least the local channel and the network (along with the NFL/NHL, etc) have a further audience for their commercials. It is right up there with the Home Sattelite Viewer's Act that says I can't subscribe to the local channels from my original home, but can watch only those local to me.


joey   December 18th, 2009 7:17 pm ET

I have also watched a few games on justin.tv. As cool as the idea is, I have a harder time finding a working stream of the game as anything on the site. 9/10 of the streams are fakes that want you to link to another page which causes pop-ups or has spyware probably, and the rest have buffering issues or look terrible. I love watching tv shows on the internet at sites like hulu, but when are live sports gonna be available in a more controlled and better quality enviroment on the internet. justin.tv is a step in the right direction but it is a poor effort.


MIndfury   December 19th, 2009 4:13 am ET

The patriot act: The FCC does not need a warant to search your home if they suspect you of violating FCC rules.


John   December 19th, 2009 6:28 am ET

I think part of the problem is accessibility, I'd be willing to pay a fee to watch the game of my choice, and not be stuck watching the local tv, or local cable. The longer the entertainment / sports industry resists embracing the internet, the more this will continue to thrive and grow.


Justin   December 20th, 2009 11:42 am ET

Believe it or not – it's time the people took a stand against these "broadcast rights" and "regional broadcast rights" and all the other bs the corporate tv world has made. Couple that with major league sports trying to ensure they snatch every last dollar from the viewing public and you have a major screw over of John Q Public.

Of course they are going to fight internet streaming – the more people who watch online, the less they can demand from the cable/dish networks to force them into their basic package. Unfortunately, so many of us have fallen for the trap "we have to watch THE game!" that it's difficult to mount a successful attack on these BS broadcasting rights (read 'blackout restrictions', etc.)

Remember when they said "Cable TV – because we don't need commercials!" Um, ok. So why do we still have so many commercials again? So now they say "We can't have internet tv – that violates our copyrights!" Whatever. I seriously hope the people win this one – I'm tired of being a person and just bending over to the corporate monster.


andy   December 21st, 2009 2:53 am ET

feels like napster round2. internet will always be 1 step ahead. they should just find a way to play along and make some profit at the same time. my nfl team gets blacked out every home game. best believe im not spending $60 a ticket to go watch them soil themselves on the field. If there was an alternative to poor quality illegal streams I might bite.


Cody   December 21st, 2009 6:03 pm ET

Comparing live streams to guns is a horrible analogy.

People will watch whatever they want as long as there is someone out there providing the content. Copyright laws are a joke. Corporations out there burglarize us to watch things that should be free anyway, considering the amount of commercials they saturate their programming with. Maybe if DirecTV and the like didn't try to charge their viewers 300$ for an NFL package or 70$ for a UFC Pay Per View event and such we wouldn't be so inclined to watch it for free. The rich get richer...


Kenneth   December 21st, 2009 7:04 pm ET

Some football (soccer if you must) matches aren't even broadcast here in the U.S. It's utterly unacceptable. Justin.tv is only one of many ways those of us who enjoy football more than the other sports commonly broadcast on American television these days. What no one can deny is that there are exceptions that must be allowed to pass and football is one of them. If no TV station broadcasts it, then a way to view the games must be made available and legal. Otherwise, it would be like banning an entire genre of music just because companies that produce other genres want to be paid. It's ridiculous that this is even an issue. People are still going to pay for higher quality live video even though some people would not. Congress is worried about the economy and trying its best to get money into the companies' pockets (among many other reasons). Let's not forget about what the people want as we satiate the endless corporate hunger for their money.


Dan   December 23rd, 2009 4:13 am ET

In a world where every news network is so antsy to tell us what happened and every person seems traied to seek out the latest entertainment, I am surprised there is not already a "live streaming" conglomeration on the internet that is supported by TV networks - even for a fee. There is no reason that west coast (not to mention Alaska and Hawaii) viewers shouldn't be able to access a live east coast network feed of any show - even if a fee is involved. Personally, I'd pay not to have to wait a few hours to see things others have already watched and forgotten about.


Joel   January 13th, 2010 12:17 pm ET

I've had it. The government and the FCC can bombard our bodies with millions of radio waves whenever they damned well please, yet they make us pay to see those waves-which by the way, who really knows what the repercussions of such are to the human body. Ever heard of Agent Orange? You think our government is touchy feely and gives a damn about its citizens? Think again. And then when we're getting bombarded and are not even allowed to pay for the mistreatment it's called copyright protection. We might as well be paying for television, and getting cancer. But man was that a good episode of American Idol, right? When are people in this country going to wake up and realize that everything revolves around money?
As previous posters said, if the broadcast networks would provide a medium to view the content outside of the "local area" they wouldn't have this problem. Many people would gladly pay to see the game they're watching on Justin.tv if they were given the opportunity. It's time to turn the century and adopt live online viewing. But be careful what you wish for. Then the cable networks wouldn't be reaping in huge profits, and when they're the ones that contribute millions to our political campaigns we can't have that scenario. Also, they would find a way to make the internet a less open medium via taxing it, or limiting it to the content that your ISP allows for, as some lawmakers have already proposed at the request of huge media conglomerates such as AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner.
There will always be copyright infringement as long as there are copyrights. I for one will continue to watch things on Justin.tv that I can't view elsewhere. When they come knocking on my door with a fine from the FCC for doing so, I'll print my own money from generic stock paper and give it to them on the spot. After all, that will probably be about the value of the USD$ anyways.


Streaming TV   January 18th, 2010 12:20 pm ET

Live TV streamimg is boom and certainly not bane

http://www.tvtubex.com/


devJ   January 19th, 2010 12:13 pm ET

Lets see if they decide to try and take it a step further than they already have. In Germany there is a "Company" called the GEZ. They force you to pay every 3 months if you own a radio or a television because you could potentially watch their shows or listen to their radio stations...

How sick is that??

The FCC seems to be just a step or two away from this type of "consumer service".

Take into account soldiers overseas who are good enough to take a bullet to defend the country, but arent allowed to watch a streamed sports event that they arent able to attend the event physically, and are more than past the regional divider.


asope   January 20th, 2010 8:25 am ET

This really sounds amazing and the live video coverage over the web will help all the game lovers to watch and enjoy while work.
Regards,
erezione


Tasya   February 25th, 2010 11:45 pm ET

This is not the case with sports. Due to the economy, I had to relocate a long ways from my home area. How does my watching a Pittsburgh Steelers or Penguins game on the internet take one penny out of anyone's pocket? This isn't something I could buy. If I can't see it online, I do without. At least the local channel and the network have a further audience for their commercials.

Thanks

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