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Blackout Forces Fred Wilson to Pirate The Knicks. What Would Congress Think? (betabeat.com)
90 points by bproper 1845 days ago | hide | past | web | 89 comments | favorite

The NBA is a great example of how individual consumers are not their customer. You want to pay money to watch NBA games, but you can't. The owners want money through ticket sales, so if you live in the "home market", you don't get to watch the game on TV. But, the owners also want money from TV deals. But they don't want your $20 to watch the game on TV, they want ABC's $3 billion (or whatever) for the right to charge you whatever ("watch these ads") to see the game. So there is no actual incentive to give you what you want; there is only incentive to sell games to networks at as high a price as possible. (Also, sell advertising, and modify the game's rules to ensure that there is extra advertising at the 7 minute and 3 minute mark.)

Basically, at one end of the equation is some dudes passing a ball around. At the other end of the equation, is you watching that. In the middle, of course, there are the middlemen, and they all want a huge cut for doing absolutely nothing. Anti-piracy legislation is all about protecting the middlemen who realize that they do nothing and they need the government to bail them out.

>Anti-piracy legislation is all about protecting the middlemen who realize that they do nothing and they need the government to bail them out.

Beautifully said. That, my fellow hackers, is copyright and anti-piracy legislation in a nutshell - to serve and protect that which provides no value at the cost of depriving everyone else of their rights.

To slightly derive from a well known quote[1] from Henry Ford: If people understood this simple fact about copyright, it would be dead and forgotten before tomorrow morning.

[1] "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."

and they all want a huge cut for doing absolutely nothing

That's silly. Acquisition and broadcast systems do not run themselves. I think the whole sports business model is exploitative and stupid, but hyperbole like the above doesn't help. Market segmentation is a time-honored business practice, but I get the sense that if the FTC forced the teams/broadcasters to adopt an open-access content model then people would be howling about government interference with private enterprise.

Canadian here.

I paid NBA.com for their "broadband/league pass" package once. Never again.

Literally 50% of the games during the first and only week that I tried it were blacked out. I called them up and they refunded me immediately, they knew it was a crap deal.

Now I have resorted to using sites like chanfeed.com and myp2p.pe - the quality lags a bit, but I can get any and every game, for free, all on one screen. No blackouts, ever.

It's time for the NBA to get with the game.

Notice how I started out this comment by saying "I paid..."

You aren't alone, at least myself and three other Canadians I know have bought that or a similar package in the last two years and received refunds after finding out how useless the packages were.

We travel a lot for business and would like to watch games whenever we can, either live or tape-delayed. The restrictions, not just at home in Ontario, but elsewhere have meant the packages are close to useless. A horrible way to drive away fans looking to spend on what could be a quality product. The damn strike/lock-out hasn't help either.

I know the volume may not currently be there for it to be hugely profitable, but if the leagues keep playing wack-a-mole with the p2p feeds, the volume and habit may never develop for there to be a new alternative distribution model for what could be a very profitable distribution channel for the sports leagues.

> You want to pay money to watch NBA games, but you can't.

This is what frustrates the shit out of me about EVERYTHING related to TV/Cable. I HAVE MONEY THAT I WANT TO GIVE YOU FOR A GREAT PRODUCT. I know I'm not the only one. WE have money we want to fork over, PLEASE take it. You know it just blows my mind. Everything I've ever heard about capitalism/business/economics/etc. that if there is demand, someone is supposed to step in and provide. Why is it taking SO long for this to happen in this particular space?

Slight rant, I know, but goddamn does it make my blood boil thinking about this stuff.

The system is reasonably efficient at delivering the product (you) to the customer (advertisers). The programming and options needs to be just good enough to keep you away from Netflix and TPB.

In the middle, of course, there are the middlemen, and they all want a huge cut for doing absolutely nothing.

Yes, because all of that cable and fiber that was run around the city so that you could watch "some dudes passing a ball around" while you are sitting at home didn't cost anything. Or the cameras that record it, or the directors that choose the best angles, or the commentators, etc...

This is a big game a chicken between MSG and Time Warner, and unfortunately the viewer is just an indirect participant. It happens all the time. It's not about middlemen... this is about content producers vs. content distributors. Earlier this year, there was a spat between Fox and DirecTV that got signed just before the deadline. Hell, there was/is a problem with the Indianapolis NBC affiliate and the local cable company.

I'm from the Indy region. The cable company is Bright House Networks and the channel is the local NBC affiliate.

Since they have news shows locally, they have been regularly calling brighthouse customers to call up and complain that they don't take the NBC deal. It's rather slimy, but it's worked for the last 6 years the channel has done that.

I think you're pretty much spot-on here. The one thing I would add is that while everyone is talking about the cable/media companies' business models being obsolete, we could also make the same argument for the team owners. That is, when I have a 50" big screen and digital theater sound at home, and can buy a 6-pack of beer for $8 rather than a single beer, I'm much more likely to watch the game at home for (ostensibly) free, rather than pay $30 or more for a single ticket.

The atmosphere and ambiance of a live sporting event still trumps the home theater experience, but as technology improves, and ticket and concession prices rise, that gap narrows. The reflexive response to protecting ticket revenue since broadcasts of sporting events began has been the blackout. As technology improves, and technical know-how is more widely disseminated, blackouts are becoming less and less effective, as more and more people understand how to get around them.

I'm kind of frustrated that I can't go to a game and get as good a media experience as at home. Why can't I go to a game and get the announcer's live feed on my smartphone? Why can't I get replays on my own display?

You're right in that there is value in the atmosphere and excitement of a live game, but surely the price of admission could include more than a seat.

Are there any startups in this area?

There are some that provide exactly what you're asking for. At&t park (whichever baseball team they have, I can't remember) has what they call the Digital Dugout which has instant replays, including ones that can't be shown on the big screens due to MLB rules. It's only accessible from the network in the park, but supports a multitude of smartphones. For the 2011 superbowl, the cowboys stadium had an iPad app with everything from maps to player bios to live scores to replays to a live view of different cameras.

A lot of the teams/stadiums know what's wanted, but the number of companies that can set up a WiFi network that works well under the worst possible conditions is significantly lower than the number of companies offering it. And the good ones get bought by megacorp and turned into one that can't.

Awesome! I figured the major problems would be the difficulties with infrastructure, but also renegotiating broadcast contracts, as announcers are employees of broadcasters, not venues.

It reminds me of the older guys at the ballpark that wore those radio headsets for play by play. Glad to see progress is being made, however slowly.

MLB has an app (iPhone and Android, AFAIK), that features video replays of significant plays (essentially the highlights that the MLB puts up on the game recap page on their site) and streaming audio (and video, for additional money).

There's special features for when you're actually at the ballpark, but I've never used them.

>But they don't want your $20 to watch the game on TV, they want ABC's $3 billion (or whatever) for the right to charge you whatever ("watch these ads") to see the game.

I had to look this up, but it appears that the price per year for NBA television rights was well under $1 billion/year(http://www.insidehoops.com/nba-tv-contracts.shtml). From 2002 to 2007, TNT paid about 2.2 billion in total. ESPN/ABC paid around 2.4 billion for the same time period. Per year, that's around $300 million each. Even assuming a 50% increase in cost, that comes out to around $450 million/year per network for 2012.

The biggest irony is that the NBA could be making an absolutely insane amount of money selling directly to the consumer. At $30 per month for a 6 month season, all they need to do is sell around 5 million total subscriptions to equal the net income from the television contracts. I'm positive that the NBA could get those kinds of numbers, especially with European or Chinese basketball fans who might not be able to see the games any other way.

All the NBA needs to do is actually make the service work, and provide the games that are already being televised.

Why should the NBA bother with messy details like dealing with fans directly when somebody (networks) gladly pays (up front) for the privilege?

They already are. NBA League Pass Broadband and Mobile deliver their games in HD and work quite well. Their sitting on the tech and I can only assume that they are preparing for the day when they can kick the networks to the curb.

> Anti-piracy legislation is all about protecting the middlemen who realize that they do nothing and they need the government to bail them out.

Hey if it worked for the Financial Industry, then why not Big Media?

As a non-cable subscriber and a big NBA fan, I find blackouts unbelievably frustrating. There is simply no legal way to watch some live NBA games unless you pay for cable. I'm constantly having to route my NBA broadband league pass through a proxy to watch my home team, and the only workaround for nationally televised games is to pirate them from sites like sportlemon.tv.

It's a classic case of frustrating customer experiences pushing users to piracy. If the NBA provided a way for me to legally pay to watch every game over the internet, I would gladly do so. In order to legally do this I have to have both a cable or satellite service in addition to a league pass subscription.

I understand that a fair amount of revenue for the NBA is probably coming from the deals it made with TNT, EPSN, and Fox, but a viewer is a viewer, whether they're watching from the net or through traditional venues - why do they care, so long as their advertisers are getting enough eyeballs?

I understand that a fair amount of revenue for the NBA is probably coming from the deals it made with TNT, EPSN, and Fox, but a viewer is a viewer, whether they're watching from the net or through traditional venues - why do they care, so long as their advertisers are getting enough eyeballs?

Not "some" all of NBA's TV Revenues come from selling the rights to networks. The networks sell the ads, and they're the ones that care about eyeballs. So the networks care if you start streaming local market games and they're going to try to prevent that. If the NBA allowed you to get your local market games via streaming it would undercut the product they sell to the various networks which is their primary source of revenue.

Correct. All the major sports organizations work this way, and it makes sense from a standpoint of comparative advantage. Of course, it's horribly monopolistic and anti-consumer, but on the other hand consumers could also start patronizing other sports leagues instead...except they don't want to.

The NBA is basically promising these networks they will bring them eyeballs. By offering league pass to all customers without restrictions, and passing on all ad revenue to the network which holds the right to that specific game, they increasing their ability to deliver on the promise. For instance, if a game is televised on TNT, but X number of potential viewers don't have cable TV but do have internet access, by allowing them to watch the game online they are bringing even more users to TNT (passing all or most of the ad revenue less hosting expenses to TNT).

Seems like a fairly straightforward solution to me. My assumption is that the powers that be aren't technologically sophisticated enough to understand the benefits of it.

Seems like a fairly straightforward solution to me. My assumption is that the powers that be aren't technologically sophisticated enough to understand the benefits of it.

This isn't the case, most networks are extremely technically sophisticated (ESPN especially) the misunderstanding here is business related. TNT and ESPN make millions (in ESPN's case billions) a year in subscriber fees from cable operators. ESPN alone makes $3-5 from each cable subscriber in the US (there's about 120M of them) each month. A significant portion of these network's revenues are made on subscriber fees. The solution you propose jeopardizes these agreements for what would currently be a paltry amount of streaming ad revenues.

The NBA is promising these networks a product that they can attach advertising to and re-sell. The league pass devalues game in the eyes of TNT - they can't resell the content to local cable providers to attach advertising to.

If they want to cut out two middlemen (the network and the local cable provider) then the NBA must learn to create a steady audience and get money from advertisers, which is a different skill than putting on ball games.

I actually have more respect for people who pirate to get things for free than people who pirate and claim that they're only doing it because X condition isn't met. X could be that it's not in the format you want, that it's not at the price point you want, or any number of other things. The publishers business model is their business model, good or bad. Own up to your decision to pirate.

Isn't pirating to get things for free just a special case of X condition not being met (where X = (price = $0))?

Absolutely, but usually in that case the person doesn't have the sense of entitlement that I see from piraters who claim "i wanted to receive the content by carrier pigeon but because the option wasn't available I was forced to pirate".

That's quite the hyperbole there. Not sure it's completely warranted. I've never heard anyone seriously making outrageous claims about what they'd like, it's mainly "I want to watch one show/channel without being forced to pay for 199 channels I'll never watch."

That's pretty reasonable, I'd say. I subscribed to MLB.tv this spring and cancelled after one month because my market was blacked out the entire time. The technology is there, it works, and people are willing to pay for it. $9/mo for just baseball is a better deal for both me and the MLB than $50/mo for 200 channels I'd never watch through a reseller.

I used to pirate music. I'd usually only listen to an album a few times, then put it on the shelf to listen to more new music. Buying a song didn't make sense in that regard. Then the Zune Pass came along, $10/mo for unlimited music, virtually no restrictions. I could listen to a song once or twice, shelve it, and grab another. I got my Zune in 2009, and that was the last time I ever pirated a song. Now if only the rest of the entertainment industry could catch up.

> $9/mo for just baseball is a better deal for both me and the MLB than $50/mo for 200 channels I'd never watch through a reseller.

It's obviously not a better deal for the MLB or they wouldn't be blacking out the games. If you're going to make the claim that a company is not acting in its own financial self-interest please show your math. I think people here are drastically underestimating the cost to a sports league breaking cable contracts to better serve high-maintenance customers.

If they show me the game on MLB.tv - $9/mo basically for the foreseeable future.

If they make me subscribe to cable - $0/mo forever. How much does the MLB make per cable subscriber is the question I cannot answer.

Data point: ESPN gets the largest slice of your cable bill.

I like a few web-comics that have no official English language translation (Noblesse, Knight Run, etc). Now, I can go to the website and look at the pictures and guess what's going on but if I want to actually read a translation I need to go to a website that breaks copy-write.

As this is a digital good that they make no effort to sell to me I cost them nothing to 'pirate' it. Yet, if you can come up with a rational reason for me to stop I may consider doing so.

PS: As a side issue egscans opens a copy of the original version of the comic when you read them which may provide them with revenue, but this is effectively scamming from their advertisers. (or if it's all pay per click it might just cost them bandwidth.)

Your respect would be nice, but being able to watch my favorite sport without subscribing to cable television is nicer. I'm at peace with my decision to pirate. Feelings and morals aside, at the end of the day the NBA and their customers are losing ad-revenue because it's more convenient for people like me to pirate live events than it is to legitimately pay for access to them. Self-righteousness doesn't put money in the bank (unless SOPA passes, of course).

It's this line of thinking that will eventually send old media to the grave. They’ll hang on for a while, grasping at the golden years of yore, but if they don’t adapt to demands they will die. It’s not about “excuses”, it’s about reality, facts. If technology and the convenience it affords isn’t used as a medium to enhance customer experience it will be its demise.

> but if they don’t adapt to demands they will die.

No business can meet all demands. I think this is what annoys me the most about the "I pirate because I'm underserved" crowd. They act like not getting what you want is unique to our times. Unique to the internet. It's not. People in all walks of life, in all times, have had to deal with not getting everything they want. Had to deal with making compromises.

In this particular case Fred had several options to see the basketball game. He has season tickets. He could have chosen a different way to pay for television (I don't live in NY but I'm assuming it has DirectTV or Dish Network or some other option besides just Time Warner). He made the choice that he made, but was unwilling to accept the downside it came with.

In the business world we call these entitled customers. These are the types of people who bring back clothes 2 years after the purchase and get huffy when the store won't return them.

These are the types of people who bring back clothes 2 years after the purchase and get huffy when the store won't return them.

But in this case, it doesn't matter if the store accepts the return or not, he gets his money thanks to the pirates. When you are competing against free, it's bad business sense to turn away paying customers like this guy.

(The retail analogy is: this guy buys some clothes. He wants to return them, and you say no. The cash register opens and gives the guy his money back anyway. So you might as well take the clothes he's trying to return.)

Show your math. It's easy to say Fred's pirating is a net loss for the NBA, much harder to prove it. For example if they were to do away with League Pass blackouts (which I pay for, by the way), surely this would have a great negative effect the next time they negotiate with MSG, WGN, etc.

This whole 'entitlement' spiel is bogus.

People expect to be able to get stuff because they know it is available.

If each piece of TV/music/whatever had to be dug out of the ground, or hand-made, at great expense, they would not be available easily. People would want them, but hardly anyone would be providing them.

But that is just not the case here. These things are trivially available. It is that they are being witheld by certain providers -- because the whole market rests on a made-up artificial scarcity. That is the basic underlying physical fact, and people feel it.

If people expect to be able to easily get stuff that is actually easily available, they are absolutely right!

In the business world we call these entitled customers. These are the types of people who bring back clothes 2 years after the purchase and get huffy when the store won't return them.

Then Zappos comes along and eats your lunch.

The fact is that this is an outdated business model that is still around solely because of govt control and interference. If these laws were changed, dozens if not hundreds of people from this community alone would be eating their lunch.

You're missing my point and getting caught up in the fact that entitlement annoys you. Regardless of how you feel and regardless of the consumers state of mind, this is happening.

> No business can meet all demands.

Absolutely, but it isn't being met. The demand of universal access is being fulfilled elsewhere.

>They act like not getting what you want is unique to our times. Unique to the internet. It's not.

What's unique to our time and the internet is that I can get what I want and it's more convenient than the conventional way.

That's the problem I was trying to highlight, hopefully this doesn't come across as snarky.

Actually, he probably didn't have any other option to watch the game on TV. NYC (and especially Manhattan) residents very rarely have a choice of cable providers. If you're in a Time Warner building, no other cable company can provide service there, and it's very rare to live in a cable building where DirecTV or Dish service is also available.

So really, his choice is to move into a building with a different cable provider and hope that provider doesn't get into a similar spat.

He was - he pirated because there was no other way to get the content he had paid for. In some cases, there is no other way, period. When X condition is "Getting something I paid for", I have respect. Look at what happened here - a rather well known person openly admitted to pirating. You are saying you would rather he just said "I wanted it for free?"

My guess is that they're trying to maximize "butts in seats" at the event itself. If people were given the option, they might choose to stay home and avoid the inevitable annoyances of crowded events (like, you know, other people), and that would cut down on revenue for the venue itself.

There is also the psychological effect of a large crowd in a venue showing enthusiasm for the sport. How much fun would a basketball game actually be if there were no crowd cheering and no people present? Athletes might live for the sport, but they get a boost from crowd enthusiasm. This follows on into the remote audience as well.

It would be an interesting (though costly) experiment to see just what happens, on many levels, if you do away with the crowds and just have teams playing in an empty venue, with only online and/or video spectators. I think most people would tune it out and stop watching completely, if not the first time, then soon after.

> My guess is that they're trying to maximize "butts in seats" at the event itself.

I bet you're right, but two things: 1) they blackout home-team games that are played away from home, and 2) most people can't make it to every home game. If you're on the verge of making the transition from casual fan to rabid fan, staying in sync with the team by watching as many games as possible. I greatly prefer attending the event to watching it on TV, so in my case access to more content doesn't reduce my desire to go to games. In fact, because I've had access to all their games (through both breaking the NBA League Pass rules by going over a proxy and pirating nationally televised games) I've become a huge fan and attend live games all the time now.

The #1 goal of the NBA is to increase the number of NBA fans. In my humble opinion, this is best done by getting their product, which speaks for itself, in front of as many people as they can. It's also they best way for them to break free from the hold that the major media outlets have on them and control their own destiny by broadcasting games on their own terms.

You're thinking like someone who has grown up with the internet. Most of those owners are one foot in the grave at best.

They are not really into changing their paradigm to suit others.

The best solution I have found is to use a non-US (UK, France, whatever) VPN service and sign up for the NBA International League Pass Broadband (http://ilp.nba.com/).

The International Pass has no blackouts and you can watch the All Star game, playoffs, and Finals. The US Broadband League Pass does not give you access to playoffs or the finals.

There's no question that Cablevision is acting like a bunch of jerks because they own the Knicks, Rangers and MSG. They have drastically increased their fees over the past decade like every other cable company has.

That said, Fred Wilson is not paying for MSG technically so it is piracy if he doesn't get it from the MSG network.

I've had to deal with many years of Cablevision fighting higher fees and blackouts from networks in which the fees are later passed onto the consumer. Frankly I have no sympathy.

But he already pays for Time Warner cable, NBA League Pass, and Knicks tickets. Why should he suffer because MSG is greedy?

1. He's not paying for MSG technically because Time Warner doesn't have the rights.

2. The League Pass is not for home teams. Every team has their own individual hometown deals and they want you to watch it on whatever network they make a deal with. The League Pass does not apply here.

3. Knicks tickets grant you a right to see the game in person and nothing else. Since Wilson is paying the price for season tickets that most spend their whole lives paying the same price for a house in NY, I'd suggest he go to watch them live.

I don't agree with these policies but this is what happens when you let cable companies buy networks. It should've stopped during the Cablevision acquisition of MSG but it has continued onward with Comcast and NBC.

Technically he's paid for MSG for January (Time Warner pre-bills a month ahead, I just checked my bill). Neither TW nor MSG have offered us a refund of the January fee.

You don't agree with these policies yet you say you have no sympathy? Odd.

No, I don't have sympathy. My sympathy goes to people who are actually struggling in this world and not for an investor who can afford Knicks tickets that is complaining about not being able to watch them on TV for a few days or weeks in a season that has already been delayed.

Oh, so only those who are truly struggling get to complain. Gotcha.

This is the point that I hope gets taken away from this - piracy is often a last resort or because of the company people are pirating from, not out of laziness, greed, or wanting it for free. Sure, that does happen, but I have seen a lot of people buy a game from EA, and then pirate it to get a DRM and Origin free copy, since those often work better and crash less than the DRM ones. EA could easily do away with it, and piracy would drop. Companies need to realize the cause and effect of piracy.

Why? Because IP laws are incredibly unjust, that's why.

A few people here seem to be positing that the point of local blackouts online is to increase attendance at games, but it's not. It's to maximize the value of the local TV rights deal, a twenty-year version of which recently netted the LA Lakers $5 billion: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/lakers-329235-billion-new...

Regional sports networks, especially those owned by local cable companies, love these deals because of the recurring revenue they get from people like me who would otherwise not have cable at all. Comcast Sportsnet in Philadelphia is the only local outlet for watching the Phillies, so I have Comcast cable.

Two options for getting around the MLB local area blackout regulations. Both require the MLB.tv subscription, which is $25 / month for high def. (BTW, if you haven't tried MLB.tv, it's really a great product. Many PS3/BlueRay type players have an app for it, too)

1) MLB.tv experimented with a local area only package here in San Diego last year. $20 / mo for just the Padres. 2) Rather than that, I simply used one of my VPS' in another region to create an SSH tunnel through which to route the MLB.tv signal. They use your IP, not your billing address, to determine access.

This is, like, the 4th Betabeat story I've seen that tried to spin a whole epic news event out of something as insignificant as a single Twitter message. It seems to be their M.O.

HN used to block bait sites like this with a much heavier hand.

Disagree. Their stories may suck in general, but I find this one highly relevant to the HN audience. This issue infuriates me as a consumer and a tech person.

Why do you find this insignificant?

About a year or two ago, I still had cable (I don't anymore), and I had the premium package with all the movie channels. At the time, a new season of Entourage was starting and I wanted to catch my wife up on the previous season. This previous season was not available via HBO On-Demand, they were not showing any re-runs on HBO that I could find, and the DVD of this season was not available in stores yet. There was literally no way I could legally let my wife watch this content (even though I had watched it, legally, the previous year on our HBO subscription, and via on-demand).

So, I downloaded it. And I got caught (via a warning letter from our ISP). Shortly thereafter we canceled our cable subscription.

I cannot fathom why, as a company, you would make it so hard for someone who is willing to pay you for content to get it. I wouldn't have been happy about having to buy it on DVD since I already have a subscription to HBO (and in my humble opinion, their previous original content should be available via on-demand all the time, although I realize that's a pipe dream), but I would have. Instead, they alienated a customer and lost all my money. That was around two years ago, so at $15/mo. (not sure how much of that goes directly to HBO) $360 has now been lost by them/my cable company for that part of my subscription alone.

If they ever allow you to buy into HBO Go (or whatever their online streaming option is called) by itself without a cable subscription I would consider it, but as long as they are stuck in their old-school ways they can forget having me (or most of my friends) as customers.

I know this article isn't about HBO, but I just thought I would point out another example of the way that content producers continue to alienate the people who should matter most: the consumer.

HBO spends a lot of money on creating truly premium content. For that reason I would pay for HBO Go. But I can't because I refuse to pay for cable just to get HBO. What would I watch on cable? A bunch of crappy reality tv? No thanks, Netflix has more than enough content to keep me satisfied.

Sounds like we're in exactly the same boat :-)

It is an interesting question. For example: is it wrong to download MP3s of songs you already own on CD? I don't believe so, but I bet you the RIAA would consider it so, even though they got paid.

This isn't the same thing at all.

In this case, someone wanted to watch the Knicks. However, he had no way to do so, regardless of how much he paid Time Warner. TW didn't pay MSG, so TW doesn't have a right to show the game. NBA League pass doesn't cover home games, so that option was out too. The only way he could have watched the game legally was to either A) go to the game, or B) figure out some way to hook up a satellite dish with DirecTV (who I think does pay MSG rates for some tiers), or C) rent an apartment in a different cable company's market and hook up a Slingbox (it would have to be his Slingbox and cable sub, not a friends for it to be legit).

With the CD, you have a license to listen to the music. If you download MP3s of the music (assuming the source was identical to yours), all you have done is outsourced the conversion of the CD to MP3 format. The other person may not have the right to distribute those MP3s, but you should have the right to listen to them (however you obtain them).

(The RIAA has argued otherwise - that you just get the physical media with no rights, but I thought they were found to be wrong in court, but I can't remember the case)

>I don't believe so, but I bet you the RIAA would consider it so, even though they got paid.

If the RIAA had it their way, you'd probably be forced to pay every single time you play a track on your computer or hit the Copy command to put it on your PMP or phone.

Which is strange because it's actually easier rip them than have to hunt down a high-quality version, if you have some obscure titles.

They would still try to nail you for distribution if you were sharing those mp3s or used bittorrent to download them.

As a non-sports fan, I find it depressing that it takes this level of stupidity to get the masses angry with the cable companies.

I voted with my wallet (the cable companies don't get a dime of my money) years ago. Perhaps this level of stupidity on the part of the broadcasters is what it will take to convince the average congressman that SOPA is wrong.

As a rational adult, I find the moral outrage expressed over GoDaddy's stance in regards to SOPA misplaced when one considers the willingness of so many people to write checks every month to the media companies who are behind it as part and parcel of their cable subscriptions.

Misplaced? Most people can't afford to take moral stances on issues if they have to make an untenable choice as a result. GoDaddy can be replaced by another registrar quite easily. But cable providers tend to have a monopoly.

Similarly, none of us like funding Exxon, but we still need cars.

Unlike Godaddy's tangential interest, the cable companies and their media partners are the force driving SOPA. In addition, the amount of money cable subscribers spend doing business with these companies each month is typically an order of magnitude greater than what Godaddy sees from a domain registration each year.

Cable TV is no more a necessity for the most vast majority of people who oppose SOPA than Godaddy. Instead, it is simply another convenience.

Moral outrage over Godaddy is convenient, but are you seriously arguing that going without cable in order to oppose SOPA would cause one too much suffering?

An example of an untenable choice is say skipping a meal a week so your kid gets to see the doctor.

Losing your cable TV is not one, especially in this day and age of Netflix and AppleTV/Roku direct sports channels.

Losing your internet is, and in many areas, the only decent net access comes from the same folks providing cable TV.

I've already given up my cable TV, btw. A year ago. Because I couldn't stand Comcast's existence anymore.

Anywhere there is cable, there is POTS and probably T1, DSL and Cellular. Cable offers convenience, it is not a necessity.

The Daily Show and the Colbert Report somehow manage to get all my friends to watch every single night, commercials and all.

That's because they type www.thedailyshow.com and then they can instantly watch the entire week of episodes for free, with Comedy-Central's advertising revenue still intact. The way forward seems pretty clear to me.

That works for timely shows totally owned by the network that broadcasts them.

It falls down when there is more than one party involved - for example, shows that are destined for syndication or DVD sales.

One example of this is the SyFy channel - they've basically cancelled or let expire all the programs that were being produced by 3rd parties (Universal's "Stargate" franchise, for example) as they paid top dollar for first showing rights, but the 3rd party made all the rebroadcast, serialization, etc. profits.

See also how Netflix is starting to produce their own shows they can totally own and sell direct to customers.

The future has no middlemen, just people making unique products (art, video, web apps, software, etc.) or money of of standardized interchangeable services (distribution, hosting, connectivity, etc.).

Except Canada...

>"Mr. Wilson was unintentionally giving ammunition to the media companies behind the draconian Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), legislation that Mr. Wilson has been fighting so hard against."

It's hard to see why this would be a big deal. Mr. Wilson has been giving money to the companies behind SOPA every month as a cable subscriber, and even more money by purchasing the NBA tier. Indeed, his financial support of Copyright Alliance member and a campaign contributor to SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith, Time Warner Cable, is significant.

>"Our family spends hundreds of dollars a month with Time Warner Cable."[ http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/01/screwcable.html]

[Time Warner and Copyright Alliance: http://broadbandbreakfast.com/2010/12/copyright-alliance-pic...]

[Time Warner Cable and Lamar Smith: http://maplight.org/us-congress/legislator/470-lamar-smith]

My Google-fu is broken this morning and I can't find the context.

Who is Fred Wilson and why is it a big deal he allegedly pirated a Knicks game?

He's a prominent VC in the NYC area.

If the game was on NBA League pass, why couldn't he have watched the Raptors (vistors) feed? Even though it was broadcast locally on MSG, couldn't he have viewed the visiting teams broadcast online? Or do they check your IP address/cable provider in order to see NBA League pass (and thus blackout local games)? What about routing the game though a VPN?

The only legal solutions I see would be: a) go to the game, or b) dump Time Warner and get a dish (not an easy prospect in NYC).

It sucks to be a pawn in a larger game...

They base it on your IP address, and yes, going through a VPN or proxy solves this problem (although it technically violates their TOS).

The only bit of "piracy" I have done in the last 5 years was an episode of QI ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QI )

They decided not to air it for political reasons - Jeremy Clarkson was on the panel and they wanted to keep him off the air during a row about something offensive he had said on another show.

So I got a copy from an illegal source. I still do not see this as stealing as I had already paid for it (via the UK TV License.)

One of the big reasons you don't see overnight change/disruption in the cable media companies, is because they continue to sign multi-decade contracts...like this:

From[1]: But, um, how much are the Lakers – all by themselves – getting from Time Warner Cable for its new regional sports networks? $5 billion.


I don't think anyone was 'forced' to pirate. It's just one basketball game, I'm pretty sure he could have lived a fruitful and satisfying life without seeing it.

It doesn't seem to take all that much to drive a respected venture capitalist to open piracy:


I would just have bought the CD - I don't really understand his objection to that.

I don't understand these blackouts. I would think that televising an event will get people excited and make them want to buy tickets so they can see the action in person.

It seemed to work that way for the Blackhawks.

Technically yes, since most cable is a commercial-subsidized form of media.

Whenever I torrent the latest boobtube flick, it usually cuts out 33% of it's total running time or all of the adverts basically.

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