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Television Media

MLB Says Slingbox Illegal, CEA Thinks Otherwise 234

Posted by Zonk
from the media-ing-on-the-fly dept.
The Tie Guy writes "Sling Media's Slingbox allows consumers to watch and control their home television programs from a remote PC or smartphone — a process called 'placeshifting'. Content owners are typically edgy when it comes to the placeshifting topic. However, most don't view Slingbox as an imminent threat that will destroy the commercial broadcast model. Major League Baseball is going against the grain by saying that Slingbox owners who stream home games while traveling are breaking the law because it allows consumers to circumvent geographical boundaries written in to broadcast deals. This has sparked a huge debate that has the MLB, baseball fans, and the CEA up in arms. CEA President Gary Shapiro doesn't agree, and is coming to the defense of Sling Media and place-shifting in general."
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MLB Says Slingbox Illegal, CEA Thinks Otherwise

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  • by jcgf (688310) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:28PM (#19344213)
    I guess I'll just have to quit watching baseball games. Oh wait I find the sport boring and asinine and don't watch it anyways.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MontyApollo (849862)
      I wonder how many geeks actually care about baseball to begin with, especially to worry about watching every game when they are traveling. But I suppose the geeks will be the ones sitting in their hotel room alone watching baseball on their laptop while most other peope will be sitting in a sports bar wathching it.
      • I wonder how many geeks actually care about baseball to begin with, especially to worry about watching every game when they are traveling.

        What you meant to ask was, "How may baseball nuts are go insane about their team that they'll invest in a Slingbox and put up with the pile of geekery, just to get their fix?"

        Actually Slingbox isn't all that geeky - a friend had a unit he couldn't get working and tech support told him it was incompatible with switches, that he had to use only a hub to plug it in. He even
        • by really? (199452)
          You friend must have caught one of the morons at Sling. I guess all companies must have the token idiot ... must be some unwritten law.

          • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday May 31, 2007 @08:18PM (#19346011) Homepage Journal
            You friend must have caught one of the morons at Sling. I guess all companies must have the token idiot ... must be some unwritten law.

            You've got your idiots, and you've got your corporate ladder climbers. I used to do phone support for a reseller and the only metric tracked was call time and calls handled. A certain one of our techs, let's call him Corman, would pick up a call, listen to the story, and say, "I'm sorry, ma'am, that issue is beyond the level we handle here - you'll have to call the manufacturer. If he was just back from Venezuela that day he'd even look up the number for them.

            The customer, not so dumb, would call back into the queue and wait for one of the rest of us to pick up and solve their problems.

            Guess which tech had the best performance scores?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      but, but, but what happens if I have a Tivo connected to a Slingbox? Then I can placeshift...AND timeshift!

      *head explodes with copyright violation possibilities*
    • I guess I'll just have to quit watching baseball games. Oh wait I find the sport boring and asinine and don't watch it anyways.

      Baseball is something to experience in person, or not at all. Being out at the park on a fine day is good times. If the sport itself is slow at times, that's mitigated by the fact that you're there enjoying nice weather and the company of friends, plus the social activity of cheering for your team.

      'Course, I'd love to add "good food and drink" to the list, but frankly the stuff they serve at the park is overpriced garbage - "sex in a canoe"-type beer and dried-up cold sausage - and under the pretense of

      • by cc_pirate (82470)
        Being at a MLB stadium in person isn't much different than being at an outdoor bar with baseball on TV. People drink and talk to the guy (or gal) next to them and pay almost zero attention to the game until something happens (once an inning) and then they pay attention to the game.

        Baseball is the only game more boring to watch on TV than golf, and that is saying something.
    • Re:the solution (Score:4, Insightful)

      by j79zlr (930600) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @07:35PM (#19345623) Homepage
      The motive behind this is simple. MLB wants you to purchase the ability to watch games away from home from them [mlb.com]. $15 a month or $80 a season. Of course they charge you more for post-season baseball as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pete6677 (681676)
        The purpose of professional sports is to separate the fans from their money, so naturally something like this would fit right in. And fans will bitch about it for a while, but next season they'll be right back with their wallets out and ready to pay ever-higher prices.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Heian-794 (834234)

        This is not actually the main problem.

        Plenty of fans are happy to pay MLB for their internet streaming video service, because it ostensibly offers every game, every day, unlike your typical cable company which only has the local teams and a few other stations.

        The problems start because MLB's streaming service "blacks out" any games that MLB deems to be close enough for the fan to watch in person, or watch on local television. And this subset of games almost never coincides with the games that the fan d

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by armchair99 (745329)
      Baseball is a grand game full of subtleties that requires great skill to play well. Now soccer...there's a boring game.
  • Obvious question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:30PM (#19344229) Homepage Journal

    Major League Baseball is going against the grain by saying that Slingbox owners who stream home games while traveling are breaking the law because it allows consumers to circumvent geographical boundaries written in to broadcast deals.

    Why should consumers abide by or even care about an agreement between the MLB and the broadcaster? The consumer didn't sign any contracts to "only watch baseball in approved geographical regions." And in any case, the user obviously has a presence in the necessary region in order to use SlingBox in the first place.
    • by garbletext (669861) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:33PM (#19344275)
      Exactly. In that quote, they're showing their motives; It's not about what they're entitled to enforce legally, it's what they wish they could, and what they're going to claim they can until a court says otherwise.
    • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:35PM (#19344307) Homepage
      "Why should consumers abide by or even care about an agreement between the MLB and the broadcaster?"

      Because after the MLB and broadcaster come to an agreement, they go arm-in-arm to the Federal Government with stories about the "theft" of their "intellectual property". Lather, rinse, repeat for a decade or two and you get a situation where you can no longer use your own devices to pick up the signals shooting all around (and through) you. You will be *presumed *forbidden from doing anything with radio waves until you jump through a few hoops, i.e. discovering whether anyone claims to "own" those waves and what they'll allow you to do with them.

      This is the logical conclusion of the argument "it's their content, they can dictate what you do with it"
      • by rob_squared (821479) <rob&rob-squared,com> on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:41PM (#19344371)
        That's why you need to go to the real customers: the advertisers.

        Make the case that their MLB friends are screwing up their add campaign. If you can't fight Goliath, pit him against the cyclops.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by dnahelix1 (1060308)
        I understand that there are contracts between the broadcaster and the MLB and regions and this and that and we're all getting screwed as a consumer. The thing I've never understood, though, is this: We've accepted that a VCR is something to record a TV show for later. A DVR, in non-tech terms, is the same as a VCR, just in a different format. If I can record something to watch later (let's say a baseball game) what is the point of throwing a huge hissy-fit about letting me watch it when I have to travel f
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eric76 (679787)
      Major League Baseball can kiss my ass.

      I've given up on them because of the efforts they go to in order to keep consumers from watching their games on television.

      Before, we had the package on Dish Network to watch the out of market games. But this year, MLB granted exclusive rights for the package to DirectTV. At the last minute, or after the last minute, they did allow some big cable conglomerate access as well.

      But the Dish Network subscribers were left on their own. The choices are either to not watch
      • by rob1980 (941751)
        I'd like to see college baseball ride football's coattails into some expanded TV time on ESPN, ABC, Fox Sports, etc., beyond the coverage that the College World Series will get. It's a struggle for me to find college baseball on tv for schools in my area (Nebraska-Lincoln, Creighton, Nebraska-Omaha) let alone conference or national games. I'd watch that any day over MLB if the option was available.
    • Re:Obvious question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @06:02PM (#19344671)

      Why should consumers abide by or even care about an agreement between the MLB and the broadcaster?


      Legally, they don't have to. They can receive the broadcast anywhere they can legally receive it.

      And they can legally timeshift it by recording it to, say, a videotape. And they can legally take that physical video tape anywhere they want and watch it.

      Placeshifting probably ought to be equally legal, but there is a lot less clear case law on it that I am aware of, and in the absence of clear case law, MLB probably has a colorable (though, IMO, wrong) claim that placeshifting is a violation of copyright. The fact that it enables violation of the distribution agreement isn't the basis of the claim of illegality, but it is part of the basis for the claim of damages stemming from the illegality.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @07:37PM (#19345651)
      What the heck is the "CEA" and why should I care what they think?

      This summary is missing a critical piece of information.
    • The consumer didn't sign any contracts to

      Nor does the consumer sign any contract with regard to use of GPL software. Absent a contract I would think that "what is allowed" reduces to "what is allowed by law." Maybe MLB is just informing its viewers of the law (so they can't claim ignorance), or perhaps they are stretching the law through a questionable interpretation.

      Is the law for baseball (or sporting events in general) different than for other broadcast material? I don't know, but I would not be surp

      • Re:Obvious question (Score:4, Informative)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Thursday May 31, 2007 @10:59PM (#19347215) Homepage Journal

        Nor does the consumer sign any contract with regard to use of GPL software.

        First off, "wrap" agreements have been legally accepted by courts for a long time. So including a license with your software is technically binding if the software is used.

        That being said, you are not bound by the GPL. Read it sometime. It explicitly says you're not bound by it. The only time you're bound by it is if you want the redistrubtion rights that copyright law does not offer. Without the GPL, you cannot redistribute the software. So redistribution is either an implicit agreement to the terms or a violation of copyright law. Take your pick.

        Maybe MLB is just informing its viewers of the law (so they can't claim ignorance), or perhaps they are stretching the law through a questionable interpretation.

        Courts have already thrown out arguments against time shifting and space shifting. This is just another form of space shifting. Plus the FCC provides that anything sent over the airwaves cannot be restricted. If it's on the airwaves, it's public property. That doesn't mean that you can redistribute the material (that's where copyright law kicks in), but the airwaves are a single instance of a free distribution to all.

        Long story short: MLB doesn't have a legal leg to stand on.
  • Oops (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:30PM (#19344237) Homepage Journal

    It allows consumers to circumvent geographical boundaries written in to broadcast deals.
    Sounds like MLB forgot to get someone's signature on the contract.
  • MLB is using copyright laws to enforce their marketing agreements. Whether it's legally sound or not, I guess we'll find out if this gets as far as a court case, but it's certainly not very customer-centric.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      The difference is that the TV signal isn't copy-protected (at least, not the analog signal supported by slingbox) and therefore does not enjoy DMCA protection, as DVD's CSS does. So it's not at all like DVD.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by iamacat (583406)
      MLB is using copyright laws to enforce their marketing agreements.

      Well then, I am going to use sodomy laws to complain about Microsoft's deceptive marketing practices in regards to security. In both cases, it sounds good, but it's worthless legally. Copyright laws prevent me from making additional copies of the content and distributing them to others. My own copy is only subject to property laws - as MY property that is illegal for MLB or anyone else to muck with.
      • MLB is using copyright laws to enforce their marketing agreements.

        Well then, I am going to use sodomy laws to complain about Microsoft's deceptive marketing practices in regards to security. In both cases, it sounds good, but it's worthless legally. Copyright laws prevent me from making additional copies of the content and distributing them to others.

        At least in the MS 'security' case, you have the fact of getting it in the shorts to justify calling it sodomy.

        My own copy is only subject to property law

        • by iamacat (583406)
          Except that the video of a baseball game isn't your property. You didn't pay anything to MLB for the right to see that video, unless you've partaken in one of those special package deals where you're specifically buying access to out-of-market games.

          So which laws am I breaking? I didn't sign any contracts with MLB. They have provided me with a copy of the video voluntarily. I am not giving away copies of the video to other people. Sure wouldn't be copyright law at least.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:31PM (#19344255) Journal
    Why is it any business of Sling Media, or their customers what deal a broadcaster made with a third party? The customers were not involved in the negotiations, neither were Sling Media. The fact that they no longer have absolute control of the technology to offer the same service as they did last year means that they need to negotiate a new contract that is acceptable to both parties in the current climate.
  • by Speare (84249) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:32PM (#19344261) Homepage Journal

    Would it have been so hard to actually type (or cut-n-paste) what CEA stands for into the blurb? I couldn't guess WTF it was, an NGO like the BBB, CCC, NAA, or ANA, or more like the FBI, FTC, or GAO.

  • by BoboB-69 (1034912) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:32PM (#19344267)
    The PSP with its new firmware plus the PS3 with its firmware from last week does the same thing for music, pictures, and video. Wonder how MLB will treat it? http://www.engadget.com/2007/05/31/psp-3-50-firmwa re-available-remote-play-over-the-internet/ [engadget.com]
  • Fair Use (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:36PM (#19344325)
    I say that Fair Use lets me both time and place-shift. No industry in America deserves the right, or the power, to not only tell you what (show the program in another country, but not yours for a year) and when (Do Not Record flag that idiots who forget who their customers really are, like TiVo, slavishly obey) you can watch their show, but where as well. If I pay for it, I should be able to watch it anywhere I am! It's not like Sling Media hasn't taken effective steps to limit the viewing or distribution of the program to the purchaser alone.

    It's also no wonder that the more the content industry tightens the screws (no fast forwarding now through commercials, let alone 30-second skip, on new programming) that the more people turn to alternative methods (e.g. BitTorrent) for getting their content, and the ability to watch it, as they desire.

    • I say that Fair Use lets me both time and place-shift.

      You don't have to declare it, it's already been decided. The courts have already determined that Fair Use includes the right to timeshift. However, Special Relativity tells us that time and space are actually the same thing, and your perception of how the two relate to each other depends on your velocity. So timeshifting in one reference frame is placeshifting in another. Ergo if fair use grants us the right to timeshift, it also grants us the right

  • Its funny (Score:5, Informative)

    by Altus (1034) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:43PM (#19344403) Homepage

    But somehow I don't remember signing a broadcast agreement with Major League Baseball. Either place shifting is legal or not. MLB's agreements with its broadcasters should have absolutely no bearing on this at all.
  • by daeg (828071) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:43PM (#19344409)
    You play in our parks, rely on our infrastructure (including roads, police and fire protection), I will do whatever the hell I want with your content. Thanks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by X-treme-LLama (178013)
      If only my mod points hadn't expired yesterday..

      What I do with the airwaves/cable that comes into my home is my own damn business as long as I'm not throwing it up on YT or BT. (And even then, as someone mentioned, you would think they would be grateful ANYONE was watching any more). If I want to timeshift, placeshift, or even print out the individual frames, place them on a wooden coffee table, take a digital photo of that, assemble all of those BACK into an mpeg-4 stream and have THAT 'slung' to my laptop
  • by hardburn (141468) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:44PM (#19344421)

    . . . Slingbox owners who stream home games while traveling are breaking the law because it allows consumers to circumvent geographical boundaries written in to broadcast deals.

    Did I sign a broadcaster agreement? No? Then shut up.

  • It doesn't get old reading about big media and how they get very worried when power comes to the people. We all now have the opportunity to copy, place shift, time shift and archive our tv shows on our schedules, even go as far as re-broadcast mash ups (a la The Daily show - he said what then he said what?), edits (no adverts anyone?) or just plain rips with our home PC's and an Internet connection.

    Reminds me of when (cassette) tape to tape desks became common and people started doing their own compilati
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:48PM (#19344453)
    Does it break geographical boundaries if I make a tape of the game and carry it with me to watch on my trip? Can I be sued for doing that?

    Slingbox simply automates a process that has been done the old fashioned way since the advent of the home VCR. It's better. It's nicer. It's far more consumer friendly, but it's essentially the same thing!

    The unfortunate problem is that the courts tend to be anal about these things. A court ruled recently that while it's legal for the cable company to rent you a DVR and place it next to your television set, it's illegal for them to move the DVR functionality to their own servers and send you the program on demand over the cable in a way that looks the same as though you'd recorded it yourself. It's the same d@mn thing in every regard except in the eyes of some dumb judge.

    The courts seem to need to inspect (meddle in) every little piece of technological progress and nitpick reasons why this isn't legal, although the same functionality implemented in an earlier was was completely legal. Just how far away from your TV set will this judge allow your legal DVR to be placed before it becomes illegal. That's what I'd like to know.

    Of course, I'll bet that the moment Sling Media is ready to hand over a substantial wad of cash to MLB for providing this functionality to their fans, that MLB will have no problems with it at all.

    • Does it break geographical boundaries if I make a tape of the game and carry it with me to watch on my trip?

      It certainly enables you to do that, yes.

      Can I be sued for doing that?

      No. Because making the recording is legal, so the fact that it causes MLB harm doesn't give them a cause of action. Their argument here is that "placeshifting" by retransmitting over the internet is a violation of copyright (I think they are wrong, but I don't think the case law is clear on that so that it is as certain as a matte

      • No. Because making the recording is legal, so the fact that it causes MLB harm doesn't give them a cause of action. Their argument here is that "placeshifting" by retransmitting over the internet is a violation of copyright (I think they are wrong, but I don't think the case law is clear on that so that it is as certain as a matter of law) and therefore the harm done to them by circumventing the regional distribution agreements they have are damages attributable to that legal wrong that they can recover.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DragonWriter (970822)

          It doesn't make any sense to me that placeshifting would be more questionable than time shifting.

          I'm not saying it should sense. I'm saying that, AFAIK, there is fairly clear case law on the latter, the case law is not as clear on the former, and while intuitively I think that placeshifting ought to be considered at least as much "fair use" as timeshifting, the courts might well disagree.

          That, and the fact that isn't something that keeps people watching MLB games good for the MLB?

          Maybe, maybe not. It incr

          • by jbarr (2233)

            Maybe, maybe not. It increases the value of the TV rights, but hurts ticket sales. The reason there are local blackout provisions in the broadcast agreements is specifically because the MLB believes that letting people watch games that aren't sold out hurts ticket sales more than it increases the sale value of the broadcast rights, so presumably it is going to feel the same way about anything that allows evading those restrictions.

            Sorry, but I disagree with the MLB's assessment of this. It all comes down to

    • by pappy97 (784268)
      "Slingbox simply automates a process that has been done the old fashioned way since the advent of the home VCR. It's better. It's nicer. It's far more consumer friendly, but it's essentially the same thing!"

      Except that with Slingbox, I can actually watch events live. I am a Giants fan in the Bay Area, and let's say I have Slingbox. If I am in Nebraska I can use my Slingbox and watch the game LIVE. MLB wants me to find a bar with MLB Extra Innings to watch the game.

      I am not saying it is right or wrong, bu
    • by pappy97 (784268)
      "Of course, I'll bet that the moment Sling Media is ready to hand over a substantial wad of cash to MLB for providing this functionality to their fans, that MLB will have no problems with it at all."

      Hopefully this never happens, because all sports leagues will come out of the woodwork and sue SlingMedia because they all sports packages too and if you have a friend that will set up a slingbox for you in the city of your favorite team, you can avoid purchasing NHL Center Ice, NBA League Pass, **NFL SUNDAY TIC
    • I think courts have to be anal about things like that. There are a lot of subtle distinctions in what is allowed based existing laws and contracts. Often, who is in the right and who is in the wrong is based on very subtle differences you mention. Even if the result is the same between two different technologies, sometimes the difference in method or technology changes who is right in the eyes of the law.

      In this case though, I agree that there is no reason for MLB to be in a hissy fit. The people that a
    • The unfortunate problem is that the courts tend to be anal about these things. A court ruled recently that while it's legal for the cable company to rent you a DVR and place it next to your television set, it's illegal for them to move the DVR functionality to their own servers and send you the program on demand over the cable in a way that looks the same as though you'd recorded it yourself. It's the same d@mn thing in every regard except in the eyes of some dumb judge.

      Not knowing the specifics of the cas

  • The way I see it (Score:3, Informative)

    by C_Kode (102755) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:50PM (#19344483) Journal
    Their agreement is between MLB and broadcasters. The people watching it aren't even part of the agreement. The broadcasters broadcasted the media in the consumers area, and the consumer watched it. They just choose to watch it some place other than their own home.
    • by Tmack (593755)

      Their agreement is between MLB and broadcasters. The people watching it aren't even part of the agreement. The broadcasters broadcasted the media in the consumers area, and the consumer watched it. They just choose to watch it some place other than their own home.

      If you ever listen to the beginning of a MLB broadcast (or NFL or many other sports) one part of the leagaleze they spew is something like "no rebroadcast or retransmit allowed without written permission of MLB". I wonder if they are considering the slingbox in violation of that, since it is essentially retransmitting the video from your home to wherever you might have gone. Seems weak, and probably would not hold up in court, since the language is obviously aimed at keeping people from recording and rese

  • So I am explicitly allowed to timeshift broadcast content - or at least I would be if I was a merkin. And now I might be allowed to "placeshift". So does that mean I am allowed to record any broadcast media and time'n'place (tm) shift it to enjoy anywhere on any device in any location?

    Record the entire broadcast stream, and then operate a kind of private Video on Demand service based on all of the content that has been broadcast in the past N years. All you need is some cheapo commodity disk and some softwa
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Record the entire broadcast stream, and then operate a kind of private Video on Demand service based on all of the content that has been broadcast in the past N years. All you need is some cheapo commodity disk and some software like Promise TV with streaming.

      You're entitled to watch the stream, because you recorded it. And you're entitled to show it to other people if you're watching it, so long as they're not paying you money to be there or anything similar. But to send the stream to someone else is to m

    • by really? (199452)
      Since the Sling can control, for example, your TIVO, yes, you can do exactly what you want.
  • by tjw (27390) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:50PM (#19344495) Homepage
    I've been a baseball fan for a long time, but becoming less of one as it becomes harder to watch video of the games.

    I live in MN, but I'm a Brewers fan. This is quite unfortunate since it makes it IMPOSSIBLE for me to watch Brewers games. My satellite provider will only let me watch Twins games (something i would have to pay extra for), but MLB has my MN zip code in the "blackout area" for the Brewers and Twins, so I can't watch games online through mlb.tv either.

    Last year I paid ~$200 for something called MLB Season Ticket just to watch brewers games on satellite. This year it's not available.

    I wrote an email to blackout@mlb.com explaining the situation, but the response was essentially "too bad, you're blacked out".

    I think this strategy of milking advertising pennies is only hurting MLB in the long run since I doubt they will maintain younger fans now that its so hard to get their video content. Turning down my money and alienating fans like me probably isn't that wise for the short-run either.

    • I wrote an email to blackout@mlb.com explaining the situation, but the response was essentially "too bad, you're blacked out".

      That's what you get when you legislate anti-trust exemptions into law.
    • by pappy97 (784268)
      "I live in MN, but I'm a Brewers fan. This is quite unfortunate since it makes it IMPOSSIBLE for me to watch Brewers games. My satellite provider will only let me watch Twins games (something i would have to pay extra for), but MLB has my MN zip code in the "blackout area" for the Brewers and Twins, so I can't watch games online through mlb.tv either.

      Last year I paid ~$200 for something called MLB Season Ticket just to watch brewers games on satellite. This year it's not available."

      Actually it is called MLB
      • by cdrudge (68377)

        Actually it is called MLB Extra Innings. Who is your satellite provider? The major ones provide MLB Extra Innings. Blackout rules are a joke with MLB because they do reach out much farther than should be, but I don't see how you are not offered MLB Extra Innings anymore.

        This was true up until this year. MLB signed a sort of exclusive deal with DirecTV that ended up forcing other providers to match DirecTV's price. Dish wanted to negotiate their own rates and did not want to pay what DirecTV was offering.

        • by pappy97 (784268)
          "
          This was true up until this year. MLB signed a sort of exclusive deal with DirecTV that ended up forcing other providers to match DirecTV's price. Dish wanted to negotiate their own rates and did not want to pay what DirecTV was offering. MLB would not budge (at least according to Dish Network). Read more about it here [dishnetwork.com]."

          Ah, I see, well dude needs to switch to DirecTV to watch the Brew Crew then.
  • I didn't sign any contract with MLB. So they can find a short pier and take a long walk.
  • Motives are clear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Known Nutter (988758) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @05:53PM (#19344539)
    hardly a surprise MLB is going after Slingbox, since it competes directly with their own service [mlb.tv] which circumvents the exact same "geographical boundaries written in to broadcast deals".
    • I wondered why they were being so stupid about this- you'd think Slingbox would up their fans and therefore, their advertising dollars. Now I understand that MLB just wants to prevent anyone else from competing with them.
    • No it doesn't (Score:3, Informative)

      by XanC (644172)
      MLB.tv is just as blacked out as regular TV. One thing MLB.tv lets them do is black people out unilaterally.
  • Broadcast blackouts only benefit MLB if local broadcasting would detract from attendance at games. Would that really happen? I don't follow baseball, but from what I know, there are lots of people who find it more exciting to go to the stadium than to watch on TV, so unless the stadium prices are so high as to keep the fans away, local broadcasting would not have any impact on their stadium income. Am I wrong about this? Does MLB even have a real economic incentive to block local broadcasting?

  • RIAA all over again (Score:2, Informative)

    by denobug (753200)
    MLB is behaving like RIAA now. It seems it is very easy for content owners to "convince" someone that new technology is helping people "stealing" their contents and the new technology available is evil and must be banned. We need to call our Congressional representatives and the Senators and ask for a law to be passed that prevent ANY immerging technology should not be liable for ANY copyright infringement. They need to do more to catch people in the act to accuse somone of stealing.

    We should not be l
  • *ring*ring* (Score:2, Funny)

    by UP_Minstrel (70371)

    Hey man, its Bob.
    (Hi Bob)
    Hey, you at home?
    (yeah)
    You got the game on?
    (yeah)
    Whats the score?
    (can't tell you)
    What? C'mon man, you watching it or not?
    (yeah, I'm watching it)
    Well, tell me what the score is.
    (OOoo, hold on....) .....
    (Wow, great play)
    Who's at bat?
    (Can't tell you)
    .
    .
    Ad Nauseum

    Seriously. Draw a fucking line. Get a grip. Evolve with the times or die, you broadcast based dinosaurs, instead of fighting ridiculous fucking battles to raise your stock price until you can retire and pull the chord on you
  • Get a huge antenna and an amplifier. Suddenly you have an advantage over your neighbors and can pick up tv stations that are farther away while your neighbors can't get them. How is that technically different than what they are claiming? You've broken "geographic boundaries." What is the MLB going to do, demand that you take down your antenna?
  • I live in Brazil and I like to watch hockey. There is a package called "center ice" by the NHL, which allows you to stream games over the internet though its primrily a cable package. I'd pay to get some games - except I can't buy it because I live outside the usa and canada! So the only people that can pay to stream games, are people that can get them on TV. Even dumber, the games are blacked out if shown on another network - except you may be out of town which is one reason you'd stream games.

    So I got my
    • by debest (471937)

      I live in Brazil .... I watched game two of the stanely cup last night
      Just out of curiosity, are your parents in the US (sending the "VS." feed) or in Canada (the CBC feed). If you got the American broadcast, your parents may have helped to double the ratings they received from the game! Seriously, I didn't think anyone outside of Canada gave a shit about the Stanley Cup, particularly between the Senators and the Ducks!
  • FTA:

    ... recreates the familiar living room remote control on the screen ...

    I know it's easy and obvious and portable, but that UI metaphor drives me crazy. Any software with an on-screen "remote control" goes straight in the virtual shitcan, unless every single button on it has a keyboard equivalent.

  • ...owners who stream home games while traveling are breaking the law because it allows consumers to circumvent geographical boundaries

    Anybody who tries to control digital content first ought to know that 1s and 0s do not know the meaning of geographical boundaries. If it can be represented by 1s and 0s, then any device instructed to know what said numbers mean will carry them.

  • "Slingbox owners who stream home games while traveling are breaking the law because it allows consumers to circumvent geographical boundaries written in to broadcast deals"

    What about unicast deals? MLB doesn't have those? That's the end of that then, I guess.
  • In order to encourage game stadium attendance, MLB will usually only permit sold out games to be broadcast locally.

    Like the 30 second commercial segment, it was a nice idea that has had its day. Chasing after slingboxes in order to protect blackouts is no less foolish than outlawing the 30 second skip button in order to protect viability of commercials.

    Because they can't be bothered to change, these people think that entire markets and technologies must be restrained, inhibited, crippled or destroyed. Fuc
  • Broadcast agreement. No parties to those contracts are improperly broadcasting. If I choose to receive those broadcasts from somewhere unexpected, so what? It isn't like consumers are re-broadcasting anything; Slingbox uses unicast TCP/IP connections.
  • Obviously, what MLB would like is a GPS unit in the receiver to enforce their area restrictions.

    Like this. [kvh.com]

    Yes, the DirecTV receivers for mobile use have an "Integrated GPS ... to automatically enable local channels while in your home designated market area". Cross the area boundary and your TV reception cuts off.

    • by jerw134 (409531)

      Yes, the DirecTV receivers for mobile use have an "Integrated GPS ... to automatically enable local channels while in your home designated market area". Cross the area boundary and your TV reception cuts off.
      The thing about locals on DirecTV is that for the most part, they are spot-beamed. So once you're outside of the boundary area, the actual signal won't be there for much longer either.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dgatwood (11270)

      You see, that's why slingbox and a portable satellite internet receiver would be a much better solution. If those receivers detected where you were and guaranteed that you would have national network service when you didn't have local service, and guaranteed that you would have local service in any city where local channels were available, it might not be so offensive, but with it cutting off access to your network channels outside your home area, that's just asking to be cracked.

      I'd probably start with

  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @06:28PM (#19344977) Homepage Journal
    I stopped really caring after the last player's strike. An average family can't even afford to go to a game anymore while barely in shape steroid ridden slobs scratch themselves on national television (when you can see the game that is) while making fistfulls of cash. I voted with my wallet and viewership.

    The MLB has *really* jumped the shark on this one though.
    • by barzok (26681)
      Go to a local minor-league game. Tickets are cheap, food isn't as overpriced, and you get a lot less of the "barely in shape steroid ridden slobs." Plus it's actually relaxing, going to the ballpack, kicking back and watching the game. You won't be crammed into the stadium as tight as coach seats on a 737.
  • At the moment, the powers that be enjoy a great deal of control over what information the masses in a given geographic region have access to. Certainly, you can go on the internet and check out whatever third-tier media outlet has to say, but the majority of people in even the most high tech regions get their information from broadcast television or broadcast radio.

    In the States, we pull our information primarily from one of four major networks. Imagine how much more difficult it would be to manage propog
  • by juuri (7678) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @06:57PM (#19345235) Homepage
    No matter how much they may claim otherwise. What they are really afraid of is some business setting up that allows bars and the like to purchase service in areas outside of blackout zones and stream content back in. If a bar could pay for a space, tv rental, and cable service in a zone that features more sports blackouts they would do so in a heartbeat. They must appear tough now so when other place-shifting arrises they will seem less so then.
  • By their logic installing a tall antenna tower to receive faraway broadcasts, or using a television receiver connected to a very directional and high gain antenna and taking advantage of storms or other atmospheric conditions to receive extremely faraway broadcasts would also be illegal, right?

    Screw MLB. I now have yet another reason to be totally disinterested in professional baseball.
  • I don't know about you, but I haven't signed anything with Major League Baseball. No contract of any kind that restricts my legal ability to watch my local team's games. While my use of a Slingbox may theoretically violate the agreement between MLB and the TV networks, wouldn't it only do so if one of those two were directly involved in the use of the Slingbox? As the TV network isn't involved in any active way in MY use of a Slingbox, they aren't liable any more than a gun manufacturer is liable for a murder committed with their weapon. (This last one has been tested legally, the gun manufacturer won.)

    And since, unlike murder, I personally am not committing any crime or license violation (for any license that I have agreed to,) there is no illegality here for me personally. MLB is out of luck on this one.
  • Nobody cares about "geographic boundaries".. and certainly not the nerds using Slingbox. MmmHmm.

    Didn't you lose enough "customers", I mean "fans" after the last baseball strike to learn that you guys suck? In the words of something from the '70's. "Keep On Sucking!" You've just found a new way to alienate the possible few fans you do have.

  • Last I checked, Sling was by NO stretch of the imagination "broadcast".

    The content is shifted in a private connection between the Sling server in a person's home and the Sling player on their remote PC.

    This isn't like a podcast, where the files are out there for download by anyone.

    Nor is it like streaming audio via Icecast or something like that where anyone can tune in up to the system's connection limits.

    There are exactly two discrete endpoints here. Slingbox and the Slingbox's owner.
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:59AM (#19351005) Homepage
    There is no law that prevents customers from watching the game in a 'forbidden area'. Instead there is a contract (that the customers did not sign) forbidding certain people from broadcasting it.

    Next thing you know they will try to arrest someone for video taping a game in a legal location then taking that tape to a blocked location and viewing it there.

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