JTV = Just Television?

Just Where is Big Brother?

I am not a lawyer. I don’t really know copyright law, but I did have a brief conversation with someone that has been in the business for 30 years with experience in the domestic and international broadcast environments and his narrowed and got all “squinty” when I spoke about all the channels rebroadcasting sports, movies and television shows on JTV and that it seemed that JTV content has turned to a medium for people to broadcast shows that are on their television to the viewers of Justin.tv. I can’t figure out what the allure is for the person broadcasting, but that’s neither here nor there tonight. I’m more interested in hearing what people out there in “the real world” think about this.

I repeated the statements we’ve heard from JTV principals when they are asked about these channels and when they choose to respond. “We don’t know what’s copyright and what’s not but if the content owner delivers a take down notice, we act immediately.” I’ve also heard, but not directly from Michael, “It’s ok as long as there is no network logo being broadcast.” When I cited these responses, I was met with an emphatic side to side shake of the head and a “No!”

Now, I don’t know if he knows any better than Michael or Justin or any of the JTV employees, but he’s got experience behind him and I am inclined to go with his assessment that at some point, this could get really ugly. We’ll see.

I’d like to know how people that pay for a Season Pass to watch Big Brother 24/7 feel about being able to watch it for free on JTV? I’m not a Big Brother fan, but my understanding is that you can pay for a Real.com Super Pass to watch anytime you wish. I’ve taken a look around and it looks like the subscription fee is $12.99/month. I don’t know if there is a special rate for those that just want a pass to watch Big Brother, nevertheless, people are paying something, and I don’t see a possibility for a requesting a refund.

Here’s how I see a possible scenario playing out:

  • Suzie pays for a SuperPass. She hunkers down on the couch with a snack and a drink on the coffee table and powers up her computer. She’s comfortably watching the dysfunction, really getting into it, but feels the need to click around and see what else is going on in the live broadcasting world via the internet. So she opens another browser tab and heads over to Justin.tv. And what does she see? Something totally unexpected!!

Big Brother!!

  • Suzie sits there staring at her monitor, perplexed. What’s going through her mind is a mix of jubilation that she’s found the show she’s so enamored with, but she can hear it in the other tab that’s running in her browser so she’s brought back to reality. She’s paying for one broadcast, yet watching it for free right next door on JTV.
  • Without missing a beat, Suzie heads over to the RealNetworks site and looks around for the customer service site to see what she can find about obtaining a refund for the fees she’s paid and right there under the Customer Service link is a link for Premium Subscriptions for Big Brother 9, Real Broadband Essentials, an NFL Field Pass and more. Looking around, she sees nothing about refunds, but she does see that she can easily cancel her subscription. She’s not happy that there is nothing clear about refunds, but figures she’s just out of luck and has a decision to make and she heads back to JTV to assess the feed and the chat to determine if she wants to cancel her subscription. It’s a confusing decision, but I’m sure she chooses wisely.

For me, the confusion is this — the Real.com site notes that the 9th season of Big Brother begins on February 12, 2008, so I feel like I’m in a time warp — today IS June 17th, isn’t it?

Oh well, it’s not important. It’s not like I am planning to watch Big Brother on any broadcast vehicle. It’s just one of those things I ponder while sitting around surfing the channel bar.

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8 Responses

  1. I read an article about this just this morning at http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/6/france_italy_euro_2008
    It seems many aren’t happy with pirated broadcast of sporting events and movies.
    As far as Big Brother, I’m one of the biggest fans and pay for Super Pass and Showtime so I don’t miss a thing (it’s bad I know). I pay rather than watch someone’s “free” feeds because I like to control what I’m watching (which camera) and when. It doesn’t bother me that some see the same for free.
    You should really give it a try! The new season (season 10) begins July 13th : )

  2. Thanks Texgal! It’s interesting to see how there is really no black and white explanation of what is and is not allowed. The Uefa media exec did not help to clear things up. People will still have an “out” with his description of what is permissible and what is not.

  3. They also have to worry about trademark infringement. I have seen the company I work for trademark displayed on channel icons and I know that if the legal department knew about it they would be sending a ‘nice’ email to the boys explaining trademark laws and infringement and asking them to remove the pictures with a added addition stating unless they want to end up in court.

  4. Peekers, I suppose it’s possible that eve if these companies know their intellectual property and other trademark and copyright infringements are going on they might feel the viewer ship is just not large enough to spend $$ fighting it, although a simple take down notice seems to do the trick.

    Who knows. I guess it’s one of those “new technology” things people are trying to sort out.

  5. The channel which was broadcasting Big Brother 24/7 was actually BB9UK. http://www.channel4.com/bigbrother
    The JTV link spread very quickly through lot’s of UK BB fan websites. In the UK there is a dedicated TV channel to 24/7 streaming, and in past BB’s they have had online streaming (which you had to pay for) but for the 2008 Big Brother they have no option to watch online, silly of them really. I don’t see what harm that particular channel was doing, it’s a shame.

  6. Thanks for the comment BBFan. Did they say why there is no online option/subscription to watch online this time? I suppose the content owners did not like that their material was being rebroadcast without permission and that’s why it was removed? It’s a mystery, but my piece was really a question written to provoke people to respond, as you have, as to how they feel about the broadcast — especially if some people were paying for the ability to watch.

    From what you say however, there is no way to watch online this season and I wonder if it has anything to do with the inability to protect the content from free streaming.

    I suppose we’ll never know.

  7. I know its mostly international sports channels being rebroadcast on JTV, but I do think it reveals a demand for sports on the internet. I want the option to watch my team onlin. I’ve watched a Mavericks game via JTV before. The poor quality wasn’t an issue because it was still better than listening to it on the radio. I would pay the network a monthly fee for the right to watch Maverick games online.

    As far as Big Brother goes, is it really a bad thing to have it rebroadcast on JTV? Are JTV viewers regular viewers of the TV show? Probably not. But maybe there’s a chance some will become regular viewers. Maybe the Big Brother producers want the show to spread virally.

    I’m curious to see where it all ends up though. I can go to cbs.com and see big Brother season 9 for free right now. And for that matter all networks are offering broadcast tv show episodes online for free. Sometimes within only a short time from original airing. Also, Websites like http://www.hulu.com offer tv shows and feature length movies for free. The movies are typically a few years old but the concept is still interesting.

  8. Yeah, you know Fabian, I don’t really know what the answer is. I do think that it’s pretty clear that people are willing to put up with poor quality to watch the shows or events they like and I’m wondering with shows like Big Brother how much of the eagerness to watch it online at a place like JTV is because of the chat?

    Maybe it’s that way with the sports too. People can get in the room and root or boo and hiss and have something in common with others watching.

    Surely this is only the beginning nad it looks like there is no big move to restrict much of it by the content owners, so perhaps the quality will continue to improve and we will all be watching our television content on our computers, whether they be a small 15.5″ laptop or a 60″ plasma.

    It’s all yet to be seen.

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