OT: illegal Streaming Crackdown

Submitted by Rescue_Dawn on March 16th, 2011 at 12:17 AM

We have all noticed in recent weeks certain websites (ie www.channelsurfing.net) having their domain siezed by Homeland Security b/c they were streaming games illegally.  Well there was a new proposal in Washington today to revise the copyright law...specifically illegal streaming.  Here is a quick breakdown of the proposal:

  • illegal streaming would be considered a felony.
  • wiretaps would be authorized for investigations.
  • if homeland security seizes any hardware/software (ie dvd decoding software) they will assist the copyright holders in pursuing civil action.

If you want to read more into the politics behind this proposal here is a link to a great article on CNET NEWS:Whitehouse wants new copyright law crackdown ...was trying to stay away from the political side of the story, but thought this was pretty interesting to say the least.



March 16th, 2011 at 12:21 AM ^

For fuck sakes, the problem is that I would prefer not to stream these games, I only do so because most of the games are not available in my area. It's nowhere near as bad as stealing music, because we still see the commercials and thus the advertisers (the ones who make tv possible with their money) are still getting what they are paying for. But the cable companies have a legitimate beef.

MI Expat NY

March 16th, 2011 at 10:51 AM ^

Just playing devil's advocate... sometimes a game isn't available because people choose not to pay for premium cable tiers, the NFL on direcTV , etc.  There are very few games channels that are completely unavailable in an area, and if they are (NFL network in areas where satelite isn't possible, for example), by streaming games, it takes a little pressure off the cable companies that are holding out for better terms, which in turn hurts the holder in copyright.  

If you were to say, I only stream when a tv is unavailable, I'd find it hard to show some harm to  the copyright holders.

Other Chris

March 16th, 2011 at 4:07 PM ^

Copyright is the excuse they are using to cover their real interest -- either selling more packages/tiers, which is why you rarely see ESPNU games on ESPN3, or maintaining demand for the product on an increasing number of cable/satellite affiliates, which is why the BTN rigorously patrols the streaming sites and does not sell online access to broadcast events within the U.S.

Both of them want you to call your provider and demand their service, more than anything else.  Protecting their copyright strikes me as a secondary reason but one that is enforced by the power of the federal government rather than contract law. 

Please note, I am not a lawyer.


March 16th, 2011 at 12:25 AM ^

An appropriate place: before every game there's always a call for a stream link...are there that many people now without a tv, or just no cable? Are you mostly young? Do you really share off campus housing without a tv in it? (Assuming as much as they've tricked out the dorms that they all have big screen plasmas now). Who are you if you're only watching the game (or whatever) on the computer?
<br>I get it if you're out of the region now, and it's a regional broadcast you don't get (though those Are getting rarer), but where does most of it come from? It's not a value judgement, often it's free legal feeds; it's more a curiosity.


March 16th, 2011 at 12:32 AM ^

I'm an out-of-area guy (I live in Phoenix now), so most Michigan and Detroit-area sporting events aren't going to be available to me unless they're on BTN.

Also, I work in a newspaper office with no TV in it (trust me, I'm aware that this makes no sense). So on Saturday nights in the fall, having the option to stream college football games is a Godsend.


March 16th, 2011 at 12:34 AM ^

Prior military here....and when i was stationed in Germany you can find all of the guys huddled around there computers on the weekends watching their favorite sport teams back home...even when we were in Iraq thats how we spent a lot of days/nights during our off time.


March 16th, 2011 at 12:37 AM ^

I live in South Quad right now, and don't have a TV in my room. Sometimes I can use the one public TV  we have in the basement (that honestly is big, but has terrible picture quality), and my girlfriend sometimes lets me watch sports on her TV, but many times I am otherwise out of luck.

In addition, I am a big Uconn fan and NY region pro-teams fan. Too often that leaves me without any other way to watch my teams. I always try to see if there is an official stream, but when I strike out, I love being able to go to a stream website and get to see my teams.

Finally, this summer when I was in Asia the streams were a miracle. I got to see all of the preseason games for the Jets, even though kickoff was at 7am.

Hope this post doesn't result in my getting investigated or anything.


March 16th, 2011 at 1:03 AM ^

If you don't watch that much TV it is actually cheaper to cancel your cable subscription.  If you own something like AppleTV then you can buy seasons of shows that you really like or just use something like Netflix which is much cheaper than paying +$50 a month for cable.  

Watching all the sports that you want might be more of an issue.  I'm not sure how sports works, but I know people who have canceled their cable because of Netflix and AppleTV.

Sgt. Wolverine

March 16th, 2011 at 1:03 AM ^

no cable.  Don't have it, and at this point and for the foreseeable future, can't really justify spending the money on it.  I'd love to be able to spend a little bit for just a few sports channels and nothing else -- I really don't want it for anything else -- but that's just not going to happen.  Most times, streams are the best options.  (I can go to a local restaurant to watch a game, but if I do that enough, I've spent enough to actually get cable.)

On that note, I have to HIGHLY compliment CBS for putting all March Madness games online with no restrictions.  My ISP isn't on the ESPN3 list, so that's not a particularly helpful resource.  CBS is doing it right.


March 16th, 2011 at 8:34 PM ^

As for me, I watch sports exclusively on my computer.  I haven't had a TV in my house for ten years.  I cant stand mainstream media and almost all non-sports TV.  I live in Montana and obviously couldn't watch local Michigan sports even if i did.  So these sites (particularly atdhe) are the only way I get to watch a game short of going to the bar.  


March 16th, 2011 at 1:03 AM ^

less than one mile from Comerica Park and Joe Louis. The building I live in has one option for cable and no ability to get a set-top box.

I don't have FSN or Versus, nor the ability to purchase them, and for over a year I did not have the B1G Network. Streaming is MY ONLY OPTION (other than radio) for some events. 

Short of moving, there are no alternatives. I don't typically stream, but until the content providers allow live events on the Internet, people will continue to stream. 



March 16th, 2011 at 2:33 AM ^

Can anyone explain to me why the Department of Homeland Security is at all involved in such matters? If i remember right it was founded post-911 to combat terrorist attacks and natural disasters. This is really what my tax dollars are going to right now? With all the problems currently in this country we are cracking down on streaming.

(I don't feel I went on a political side? If I did I am sorry this post is not suppose to support any political allegiances.)


March 16th, 2011 at 3:29 AM ^

FWIW I don't think you got too political. The WTF comments on generic things like what you said aren't going to set off flame wars, and that's the basis of Rule 1.

To answer your question, the executive branch assigns an agency to enforce enacted legislation, sometimes the choice seems odd, but ultimately it has something to do with the stated mission for the organization. I can tell you that (at least in theory) there aren't DHS agents being pulled from finding bin Laden to seize websites streaming sporting events.


March 16th, 2011 at 8:54 AM ^

"...the executive branch assigns an agency to enforce enacted legislation, sometimes the choice seems odd, but ultimately it has something to do with the stated mission for the organization."

Show us where wiretapping US citizens for streaming video online is anywhere in the stated mission for the DHS.  When the DHS was initially formed, it incoporated 22 other agencies.  Look up the mission statements for those agencies and show us where it's authorized in any of them.

This is a horseshit waste of DHS resources.  Period.

I'd rather see my tax dollars go to breaking up these fatcat media monopolies and allowing the consumers more choices, than having DHS agents wiretap college kids or military serving in remote areas trying to keep up with their hometown sports teams.

skunk bear

March 16th, 2011 at 10:32 AM ^

"I'd rather see my tax dollars go to breaking up these fatcat media monopolies and allowing the consumers more choices, than having DHS agents wiretap college kids or military serving in remote areas trying to keep up with their hometown sports teams."


Good luck with that, since the government exists to serve the interests of the fatcat media monopolies without regard to your interests.


March 16th, 2011 at 10:48 AM ^

I didn't say it always made the most sense, but somewhere in those missions there was something related, or there were capabilities implied in those mission statements that made DHS look like the best idea. I believe in this case it was ICE. I don't think this is a great use of resources either, but that is the explanation.

MI Expat NY

March 16th, 2011 at 11:01 AM ^

You're right, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the agency generally in charge of enforcing copyright laws.  People need to not get hung up on seeing DHS thrown out there.  The DHS is generally just an umbrella group of executive branch organizations that don't fall under the Depts. of Justice or Defense.  It has many functions outside of what it's name is supposed to represent: stopping terrorism.  


March 16th, 2011 at 3:13 AM ^

I don't understand why the cable networks don't just take it into their own hands, and provide FREE streams for every sport they cover.  If they provide it themselves, they can still make bank off of advertising and don't have to worry about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to cut off every stream on the internet.

CBS is doing a phenomenal thing by providing streaming for every NCAA Tourney game, so why can't they do it in everything else also?

Until there's a better option, sometimes my only choice is to resort to illegal stream.


March 16th, 2011 at 3:34 AM ^

Agreed. I don't understand that at all. Not only would they have more eyes on advertisements, they could also pitch ad spots with much larger numbers in some cases, and also with much more specific numbers.

I have to think that the schools with huge, national fanbases would provide a substantial raise in both ad clicks and eyes on commercials if offered in streaming format. As for the smaller ones, how much can it really cost to stream those events as well? Especially when talking about networks that pay huge money for the rights to air their games in the first place.


March 16th, 2011 at 9:14 AM ^

Less leverage with cable operators to secure a high price / maximal distribution.

The economics are pretty complex in terms of how different types of audiences are valued & what a station is bringing to the table - and cable operators are powerful. If it were a regional-only access issue, they'd have to have a complex Zip Code / IP identification system like the MLB does for its mlb.tv subscriptions (a great service by the way for out of market MLB fans) - but man, does that suck when you're actually IN the home market and don't have the channel playing your games on cable.

I have a feeling that in a few years, there will be a pretty massive shakeup to the model and we'll look back and wonder what we were thinking, but for today, there are economic reasons for not streaming every game.


March 16th, 2011 at 12:54 PM ^

I sort of wonder if part of this crackdown is part of the networks wanting to "secure" user/viewers when they begin to offer online streaming...which is inevitable (I completely agree with your last statement.)

The networks will offer games online eventually--it will probably be frustratingly pricey and their ability to effectively work in advertising without detracting from the user experience in some way will be shakey


March 16th, 2011 at 6:09 AM ^

I stream ALL THE TIME (for similar reasons to  what others have stated). My question is have they changed it so people who benefit from the streams are able to be prosecuted? Or is it still those who provide the streams? 


March 16th, 2011 at 8:21 AM ^

Our government once again can't see the forest through the trees. Rather than looking at the real problem which is the cable monopoly held by a few service providers, they focus on going after the little guy yet again. I would have to believe that if these cable companies were competing for your business you would find yourself getting more channels for less. Unfortunately as of now U-Verse and Fios aren't offered in many areas so most deal with the Dish or Comcast. In order to watch many untelevised sporting events it jacks up your cable bill 30-50$ a month, just to watch the one game that interests you.


March 16th, 2011 at 8:47 AM ^

I read in Bloomberg Business week that essentially most of the networks accepted it as a necessary evil, but then the streaming sites got smart and started running ads across their pirated content which in turn pissed off the networks as that was their product someone was stealing and making money from so as usual its all about the benjamins.

With the floundering of the FCC this legislation doesnt surprise me, I advocate for a free and open internet for all.  There should never be data caps, content throttles (slowing down Netflix/Youtube), etc etc


March 16th, 2011 at 9:30 AM ^

Admittedly, I'm not a young kid who understands all the details. But isn't it always about the money? I would assume there are huge infrastructure costs behind broadcasts (cameramen, sound people, announcers, cameras, lighting, travel costs, computers, wiring, labor costs, etc., etc., etc.) Who pays for those costs? If there is a way that content producers and streamers could benefit financially, I'm sure streaming could happen quickly and easily.

I, for one, would gladly pay a couple bucks to stream a game to my computer. People pay .99 to buy a song from Apple. I'd gladly pay .99 to buy the right to watch a game, rather than paying for cable, or having to go out. As an example, for the first Illinois - Michigan basketball game, I went to three bars (in the western Chicago burbs) before I found one with the BTN and the game. I think I ended spending about $20. I would gladly have paid half that to have the game on at home.

Anyway, back to the initial post topic:  if the streaming site isn't paying anything for content, but they're making money off the stream, isn't that theft? Why shouldn't they be shut down, and all their assets taken? On the other hand, if a streaming site charged $3 to access a game, and that $3 was split between the content provider, and the streamer, and maybe some other distributor of the content, well, everyone makes money (what it's always about,) I'm only out $3, which doesn't bug me, I see the game, and we all go home happy.


March 16th, 2011 at 10:09 AM ^

a) a Slingbox (if I understand it properly) streams your own tv feed to you, so I'm pretty sure that's legal unless you stream it to others.

b) Viewing streamed content has never been prosecuted , and may not be technically illegal.  It's sort of a gray area.  Some very intelligent law-types treat it like obsenity... you can be prosecuted for creating, distributing, or otherwise spreading it, but mere personal possession can't be criminalized.  Other equally smart types claim it can be punished criminally.  Either way, there are such huge evidentiary hurdles and corpus delicti problems (streaming =/= downloading) that you will probably never see individualized prosecutions like in the RIAA jihad.


March 16th, 2011 at 11:29 AM ^

Streaming games only hurts fat cats.

Really see no problem, especially when networks are blacked out or cable companies wrangle with networks and channels like BTN etc are not available.

The funniest thing is how the cable companies complain about the illegal streams, but they aren't providing any legal streams to watch the games on. Some networks like ESPN have gotten with the future but others wont' let you watch online, especially the NFL.


March 16th, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

no matter how much they try to stop this, the government is playing whack-a-mole.  the internet is too wide open to crack down on every streaming site and it's really not that hard to find streams if you're determined.  In fact, I've discovered in the last year that it's getting easier to find streams and that the streams are getting better.

The best solution for broadcasters is to do their own stream.  I think most of us wouldn't mind paying for reliable streams.  Props to CBS for figuring this out.