October 24, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

TVUPlayer: Another Napster?

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"What gray area? The courts have already decided that you can't do this," said Mark Litvack, a copyright attorney for the Los Angeles law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

Litvack cited a 2000 U.S. district court decision that Canadian company iCraveTV was in violation of copyright law when it captured broadcast signals from the likes of ABC, NBC and CBS and retransmitted them over the Web. The company was forced to shut down.

According to Litvack, the case demonstrated that the courts don't care whether a service retransmits commercials. The most important factor in whether a site is operating legally is whether it has permission from content owners to be transmitting their material.

That said, if TVU Networks is found to be operating illegally, Hollywood may have a tough time going after the company in China, which has had a mixed record on protecting copyright.

Interestingly, instead of adding to the tension between the better-known video-sharing sites and Hollywood, boundary-pushing companies like TVU Networks may actually push them together, argued Josh Martin, an analyst with the Yankee Group.

"You shut down this site and another one will crop up," Martin said. "This tells entertainment executives that they have to create opportunity for consumers to legally access content. Most people will pay the $1.99 for the download or watch the commercial. They just need an opportunity to do that."

In recent weeks, a number of partnerships between sites and studios have been announced. Earlier this month, YouTube announced partnerships with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and CBS that let their artists' music and videos be included in original content posted on YouTube's site. Sony acquired Grouper for $65 million, and Warner Bros. cut deals with Guba, a video-sharing site, and BitTorrent, a file-sharing service that allows both to distribute Warner films.

In the meantime, the TVUPlayer's popularity continues to grow on sites such as CNET Network's own Download.com.

"It could be tough to stop these guys," said the Yankee Group's Martin. "(China) isn't known for being tough on copyright law."

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7 comments

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Good idea, Bad Implementation
Having cable/satelite channels available on the web using a little player is actually a great idea. Think about it. You're bored at work, there's no work, but they won't send you home, so you have to wait for work to suddenly appear. What do you do? Simple, watch tv.

The problem here is copyright and since this new company doesn't have redistribution rights then their whole operation is illegal.

What's going to be interesting is that this company is in China. It's not going to be easy to shut them down. Plus, what's their business model? How are they going to make money by giving the content away for free?
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
$
This is from the article, "subscribe to pay channels and pay-per-view events". It seems you have to pay for certain streams of content.

However, this seems to be illegal, even with commericals rebroadcast.
Posted by frmorrison (13 comments )
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Illegal but not in China
So what if it is legal or illegal in the USA or elsewhere?....China obviously doesnt recognize the copyright laws of the USA. As you said shutting them down would be hard in China....and if they are paying for their own subscriptions to some cable provider to provide those channels...then the cable company is still making their moneys. The advertisers are benefitting even more by having their messages played to an even wider audience.
What exactly is illegal here anyway?...if the cable TV provider that is supplying the content to whoever is the paying customer (TVU)...and they choose to retransmit their cable selection...what is the loss (other than people not subscribing to cable providers)?
Posted by dangurtoo (3 comments )
Link Flag
XP only, so who cares.
The player is XP only, so who friggin' cares?
As for illegality - it is based in China, where 99.9% of windows installs are illegal anyway, so...
Posted by powerclam (70 comments )
Reply Link Flag
One thing that really sickens me is when a crook complains about someone stealing from them.
After raping the rest of the world to be able to live the life the western world wants to, now it complains when the rest of the world starts "stealing" from them. You cant have it both ways.

Anyway the whole world now seems to be based on a crooked viewpoint, this viewpoint having been set by the western world, steal until you get caught, if you dare, else go under. This will go on until the whole mentality of the world changes, or some alien forces attack earth and we have to pull everything together, so let us enjoy while we can and stop ********.
So much money is made and still they want more. Greed, it sadly is a human trait by now.
Posted by pararealist (1 comment )
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