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Television The Courts Your Rights Online

Discovery Threatens Fan Site It Also Promotes 287

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-the-case-of-right-hand-v.-left-hand dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It seems the lawyers and the marketing people at The Discovery Channel don't talk to each other much. The marketing people behind the show 'The Deadliest Catch' have been supporting a fan community called DeadliestCatchTV.com for a while now. They've regularly sent the site info, free clips, previews and information about the show. On top of that, they link to it from the official site, including it in a list of 'fan sites' as a part of the 'Discovery Network,' and even will frame the site with the show's own dashboard for those who click through. Discovery's lawyers, on the other hand, have threatened to sue the site out of existence and have demanded that the owner hand over the domain name — which he is going to do, because he doesn't have the money to fight this. While there may be a trademark issue (which could be easily resolved with a free license), the lawyers are also making the ridiculous argument that posting the videos Discovery sent him to post are copyright infringement. They're also claiming that embedding the official Discovery Channel YouTube videos (which have embedding turned on) is copyright infringement. This is exactly how you turn lots of fans into people who hate your entire channel."
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Discovery Threatens Fan Site It Also Promotes

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday August 09, 2010 @03:34PM (#33193754)

    The whole last season was a tour de force of human tragedy, which Discovery happily played to/exploited (even adding in a melodramatic classical score this time around). Aside from the hundred or so tribute episodes to Phil Harris [wikipedia.org], it seemed like everyone in the fleet was intentionally playing to the cameras this time out even more than usual (with Edgar threatening to leave and fighting with Sig, Jake Harris's sudden "addiction" problems, etc.). Granted, the show will never be as good as the first season (before Alaska changed the rules and made the crab fishing a lot less exciting/dangerous), but this one seemed like a swan song more than any other season in the past.

    Everyone involved in the show has always been about the money. The Hanson brothers [wikipedia.org] in particular will do about anything for a buck, and have been known for trading on their fame by lending their names to some pretty sleazy ventures [variocreative.com]. But this season the cynicism (in particular the playing to the cameras) really showed in some nasty ways. This time the captains even whored themselves for Geico commercials [youtube.com] that ran during the show. And the producers' constant cutaways to a tired-looking Phil Harris was particularly shameless (they all but put up "He's about to die" subtitles).

  • Lawyers... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 09, 2010 @03:34PM (#33193756)
    A famous writer once wrote: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers"...
  • Contact the EFF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The_mad_linguist (1019680) on Monday August 09, 2010 @03:38PM (#33193822)

    Isn't this the type of thing that the EFF is for?

    Seems like setting a precedent for "if you send somebody your copyrighted material, you can't be sued" would be useful, especially with respect to RIAA honeypots.

  • by barzok (26681) on Monday August 09, 2010 @03:44PM (#33193922)

    This time the captains even whored themselves for Geico commercials [youtube.com] that ran during the show.

    You forgot to mention the very obvious placement of the Geico coffee mugs in the wheelhouse of the Time Bandit.

    Sig Hansen has been listed as a producer and/or consultant on the show for several years - no real surprise there.

    I think Discovery overplayed the drama, but I don't think it was as bad as you make it out to be. Edgar Hansen has apparently been threatening to leave the boat for a few years now. Addiction to various substances seems to be fairly common across the fleet (a reference was made somewhere to "the other Jake" being 6 months sober late in the season, and other guys have talked about getting sober as well).

    There's only so many ways you can film & edit the crabbing grind & keep the viewership year over year. They had to pull in more of the human drama, and what happened w/ Phil Harris was perfect for the producers to latch onto. Otherwise, what's to talk about - the weather? The Bering Sea gets nasty weather - but you can't produce a full season of TV off that.

  • by tibit (1762298) on Monday August 09, 2010 @03:49PM (#33194016)

    It's quite, simple really. There is the legal department, in charge of chasing people away. And then there's the marketing department, in charge of pulling people in. And then there's no communication between them. With opposite missions, what do you expect.

    Add to the fact that the legal seems to be adept at the chasing away part, while somewhat forgetful of the law they apparently learned many moons ago in, uhhhunh whatwuzitcalled college methinks? To the lawyers: don't party so hard when in college, or you'll have trouble understanding the law later.

    Does anyone do performance review on corporate legal teams? As in real reviews where any monetary awards to the company are balanced with lost goodwill and whatnot? There's a lawyer or two waiting to be fired here, methinks.

  • And contrary to popular belief, you don't need a lawyer to be successful at it (remember, I've sued the government - and won).

    This is just another case of "lawyers don't know their job" - the majority of lawyers are incompetent. Law school doesn't even teach them how to handle a court case (read any big-name lawyer's bio and they'll tell you as much).

    Find a similar motion on the net, admit you own the aforenamed website and deny every other claim. Then the ball is in their court. They can do NOTHING without your cooperation. They will lose the domain name resolution process because you can show that the past history - otherwise they'd have used it

    And they'll lose in court. And have to pay.

    Let them sue. You'll enjoy making (greater) fools of them.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday August 09, 2010 @04:03PM (#33194294)
    Well, at least it's not TLC. Between the "Jon and Kate" mess and their recent announcement of "Sarah Palin's Alaska [discovery.com]", TLC makes Discovery look like PBS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 09, 2010 @04:14PM (#33194536)

    Addiction problems are quite common in many similar 'blue collar' jobs. When I worked on a farm we had a labourer who would always work the milking shed for the morning milking, and then spend the rest of the day getting blind drunk, before sleeping through the night in the attic of a disused barn. As long as he could work as much as he could to feed his addiction, and as long as he didn't cause any problems, both he & the farmer were happy with the situation. However it was obviously an unstable situation and any changes could have caused him personal catastrophe.

  • by Monchanger (637670) on Monday August 09, 2010 @04:20PM (#33194666) Journal

    The difference is they seem to still risk their lives on the Bering, where actual soap opera stars don't actually die when their character is killed. Mike Rowe plays to the camera, but he still gets dirty and gets the job done- those can still be two different things and discovery doesn't have to be documentary the way History should (but sadly no longer is).

    Degree is everything, and I don't know that they've crossed the line. How much they make from Discovery is part of this- if they don't need to crab, they've certainly crossed it. If they are, as you suggest, crabbing for a living, they're still badass, hardworking dudes. If instead they're simply acting to a written script and don't care about full pots, then that would certainly be more drama than reality.

  • by Bieeanda (961632) on Monday August 09, 2010 @05:07PM (#33195788)
    Ten years ago easily, Robert Cringely was doing some PBS show and had an episode dedicated to Microsoft. There were interviews, examinations of the company history, probably some shilling and that sort of thing. You know, the usual kind of thing that passes for a tech documentary. After everything was filmed, there were a few things to sign off on... and that's where things took a turn for the weird.

    The MS lawyers, who clearly hadn't been in the loop until then, demanded the rights to the show. After a baffled silence, the PBS people shot back, 'What the fuck do you mean?' The response to that was, 'Oh, our mistake. We want the rights to the SERIES.' You know. So they could protect MS's image or something.

    But no, this doesn't surprise me at all. This guy's basically been set up to be harvested like a ripe tomato-- he puts all of that effort into site design and upkeep, ropes in fans that might otherwise not care for the Discovery website, and delivers them up.

    Worse, there's the possibility that this poor bastard is collateral damage from some internal power struggle-- someone in legal trying to be a keener, or a strike at a rival in marketing.

  • by darien.train (1752510) on Monday August 09, 2010 @05:15PM (#33195986) Journal
    You probably think every show is the same because EVERY SHOW IS EXACTLY THE SAME! It's the same people, the same story, the same shot list, the same challenge, the same plot, and the same everything else EVERY SINGLE SHOW. This is not an exaggeration. I would love to talk to the editors of the show to see how long it takes them to edit an episode at this point. I bet it's less time then the total of the tapes they have to work with (i.e. they don't even need to log the tapes anymore, they use a checklist). I know it's off topic but it kills me every time someone says they like that show. It's not a show! It's a single episode of a show that happens to look a little different each time (and not very different at that.)
  • by cgenman (325138) on Monday August 09, 2010 @05:25PM (#33196218) Homepage

    Once you play up to the camera, it stops being a documentary and becomes a drama.

    How is this different than most documentaries? You edit and cut and adjust and add music to make the viewer feel something that you find interesting. Even if you don't have a host hamming it up, everyone there is aware that they're on film. And once it leaves them, it is a %100 edited and created construct.

    A documentary isn't completely objective or real. A documentary is what the filmmaker decides to make it into. The only thing that would be truly real is a raw feed of hidden security camera video.

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Monday August 09, 2010 @06:04PM (#33196860) Journal

    Are you denying that most of the gains in GDP have gone to the top 1%? Or do you think that is fair?

    It's wiki, but the article on income inequality in the United States [wikipedia.org] is quite well referenced.

    As for the idea that raising the tax rate lowers government income, that is only true if we are on the left hand side of the Laffer Curve. [wikipedia.org] And the odd thing is, we are always on the left hand side, according to those in the owning class. No matter how much we lower taxes, lowering them some more will always increase revenue, which is patently ridiculous. Most studies say the Laffer Curve shows that revenue peaks at a top marginal tax rate of 60-70%, far higher than we have today, so, tax away!

    And we are not punishing the successful. Nobody makes money on their own, they do it with society's help. Society enables the storage of surplus wealth, an individual can not do that. And it is the cooperation of society that enables the successful to be successful. Society has a say in what rewards its members get, and if we feel that someone's success means that they owe us a little more, well, that is our right as fellow members of society. The successful benefit more from the social contract, obviously, than the poor do, so they should pay their fair share. If they don't like it they are free to search for a better deal elsewhere, or attempt to change things democratically like everyone other citizen.

    Meanwhile, I'll be here letting people know that they can vote in their own best interests, not in the interests of the rich.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday August 09, 2010 @07:48PM (#33198170)
    The only "reality" shows like this I actually enjoy are done by the BBC. They seem to get it right, rather than making it dramatic, they aim more for looking at the whole story.

    I don't know if this one counts because it was done by LionHeart (or Lion whatever), but it was called "Survivor" IIRC, and was supposed to follow the lives of about 50 people moved out to the Shetlands. They were supposed to have been provided with houses and school, etc, but the production crew was way behind and only half of the stuff was built. The people were then supposed to grow their own crops and animals and stuff and live.

    Since it wasn't finished, half the people never went to the island. Most of the missing half were staying in resort hotels along the coast waiting for them to finish; the doctor and his family stayed back in London. They actually televised some of the meetings between production staff and the missing people, with both sides playing contract lawyer.

    The ones who did go to the island routinely got care packages with chocolate and all kinds of stuff like liquor by mail, and most of them were caught sneaking back and forth to the mainland on the mail ship.

    About all I got out of it was that British television productions are unlikely to try to use the courts to enforce contracts with cast.

    Imagine Big Brother with half the contestants living in a local hotel and the rest climbing the fence to go to KFC when they're hungry. And yes, the british BB where one guy DID climb the fence was a real hoot.

    Deadliest Catch was amusing for an episode or two, but you definitely get more value from a decent documentary than from a whole season of this Discovery nonsense.

    Not every program needs to be a documentary, and DC was not intended to be one. You were expected to follow the lives of the crews and have favorites, etc. Just like any other drama series.

    Same for IRT. Hoot at how buffoonish "The Bear" treats Alex, his "friend". Hope that someone actually takes Bear's threats of "meeting in the parking lot" up and wallops him a good one. Drool over Lisa and hope that her accident with the ditch doesn't cost her a job. Get every guy who can't drive anything but an automatic thinking HE could do that job, too, and adopting Jake's really cool drawl. It's TV.

  • by mwooldri (696068) on Monday August 09, 2010 @11:28PM (#33199810)
    Done on one of the videos at least - flagged it as being illegal for the embedding - asking Youtube if Discovery meant for the embed to be there cos their lawyers are suing their fans who embed the very same videos on their own website.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:26AM (#33200228)

    >> What cable channels haven't jumped the shark?

    My new favorites are the Smithsonian Channel [smithsonianchannel.com] and the NATGeo channels [nationalgeographic.com]. You are completely correct, I cannot stomach most any of the Discovery channels anymore or TLC. I still do enjoy "The Universe" series on The History Channel but not too much else.

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