Can someone clarify what is legal and what's not with streaming TV and movies?

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#1
What I want to know is, is it legal to watch any streaming tv show or movie over the net as long as it's streaming and not "downloaded" to my PC? It's confusing. Just when I think it's fine to watch something, then I'll see some report on the news about someone getting busted. etc.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#2
It has nothing to do with streaming versus downloading (though most legal video distribution arrangements online do use streaming only), but rather depends on where you're obtaining the video from: As long as you're streaming the video from the content owner's website, or a licensee, then you'll be okay.
 

Aries

DTVUSA Member
#3
If the movie or show or music is being streamed or downloaded from someone authorized to distribute it, such as Dragonforce's official YouTube channel and such, then it's perfectly legal.

It's pretty ambiguous when it comes to things not licensed in the US, like a handful of anime or foreign films, but you're best to err on the side of caution on that.

By the way, there is no technical difference between streaming and downloading, and no legal difference either.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#4
By the way, there is no technical difference between streaming and downloading, and no legal difference either.
However, if you put the two together, you could encounter a difference. (This isn't made-up... this is actually reflective of how TiVo's work.) If a digital video has the copy protection flag CCI 0x02 (Copy Once) applied, there is a difference:

Imagine a secure transfer capability. With a download, the transfer capability could transfer an encrypted copy of the video, and then after the entire copy is transferred have the receiver solicit a decryption key from the sender. At the moment the sender generates the decryption key, it changes the CCI flag on the original to 0x03 (Copy Never), and then transmits the decryption key to unlock the copy. With that arrangement there is an acceptable risk of failure -- a very small and short transaction that if it fails, the user "loses" a copy.

With streaming, the transfer capability cannot transfer an encrypted copy (or would have to provide the decryption key at the start of the transfer -- either way). To ensure compliance, it would therefore be necessary to change the CCI flag of the original to 0x03 at the start of the transfer. That opens up a very large duration of exposure to failure (the entire duration of the streaming), leading to the user "losing" a copy.

As I mentioned, this is not made-up. This is a reality that TiVo had to deal with with its MRV feature (and really all DVR services would have to address this, and will likely address it the same way). Because TiVo's MRV supports streaming, TiVo's solution is to treat CCI 0x02 = CCI 0x03 -- basically if there is any copy protection they don't allow you to transfer it at all (even if you theoretically should be allowed to make one copy). They basically tell you that the content owner has prohibited the operation (although the reality is that all the content owner has done is forced you into a situation where you have an unacceptably high probability of "losing" the copy).
 
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Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#5
Thanks for the answers. The Government or NAB should put out a list of websites deemed "OK" or "Legal" to watch TV and movies. There are some websites that come up for searches for movies that are probably not legal, but the viewer would have no idea! Why would Google put them up if they weren't??
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#6
Google doesn't really "put" videos up on Google Videos. Google is a search engine. It indexes content (web pages, images, videos, news, product offers, discussions, etc.) on the web, posted anywhere, and provides links to that content.
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#7
Google doesn't really "put" videos up on Google Videos. Google is a search engine. It indexes content (web pages, images, videos, news, product offers, discussions, etc.) on the web, posted anywhere, and provides links to that content.
No I know that but they have special programs that determine the value of links. Why would they value websites that may be illegal to view copyrighted tv shows and movies on?
 

Aries

DTVUSA Member
#9
To blacklist each individual site would take huge amounts of manpower. But yeah, a whitelist would be fantastic, I think that a lot of infringements are innocent, you know?
 
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