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CBC Threatens Podcast App Makers, Argues that RSS Readers Violate Copyright ( 114

Cory Doctorow, writing for BoingBoing (condensed):The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) publishes several excellent podcasts, and like every podcast in the world, these podcasts are available via any podcast app in the same way that all web pages can be fetched with all web browsers -- this being the entire point of podcasts. In a move of breathtaking, lawless ignorance, the CBC has begun to send legal threats to podcast app-makers, arguing that making an app that pulls down public RSS feeds is a "commercial use" and a violation of the public broadcaster's copyrights. This is a revival of an old, dark era in the web's history, when linking policies prevailed, through which publishes argued that they had the right to control who could make a link to their sites -- that is, who could state the public, true fact that "a page exists at this address." But the CBC is going one worse here: their argument is that making a tool that allows someone to load a public URL without permission is violating copyright law -- it's the same thing as saying, "Because Google is a for-profit corporation, any time a Chrome user loads a CBC page in the Chrome browser without the CBC's permission, Google is violating CBC's copyright."We hope it was all an accidental mistake from the CBC, because it seems like a very stupid thing to do otherwise.
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CBC Threatens Podcast App Makers, Argues that RSS Readers Violate Copyright

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  • Fine (Score:5, Informative)

    by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @04:43PM (#53240487) Journal
    Block all CBC podcasts. When someone enters, have a dialog box pop up explaining the reason CBC podcasts can't be accessed. See how they like it when their numbers tank. This is the only way some people will learn...
    • DUH! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @05:09PM (#53240711)
      If CBC doesn't want just ANYONE downloading their podcasts, they already have an internet standard mechanism for restricting that. It's called "Authentication". CBC, the onus is on *YOU*.
      • Re: DUH! (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think this might be related to apps that display advertising while using CBCs content.

      • CBC already GEO-blocks their website video streams, although a canadian-based VPN worked the last time I tried.
        • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

          Hmm... last time I looked, it was the other way around at least for their news channel. They block the streams for Canadian IPs due to pressure from the cable companies. You need cable to access the news channel. The streams are available overseas although.

          Anyway, it tells you a little about the way they think I guess so I am not surprised by TFS.

          • They aren't exclusive. I had to get a VPN: to stream episodes of the Fifth Estate - to follow the Harper shenanigans. and get Canadian coverage of the Olympics.
          • I can't speak for the video, but the audio streams are geo-blocked due to so-called "international distribution rights" and the fees the "rights holders" want to allow broadcast of those streams to the US (primarily). What really drives me nuts is that I exclusively listened to the Radio 3 feed, which was 100% Canadian artists, and taking a sampling of some of the more popular artists from that station, none were actually represented by the "rights holder" group that has been scapegoated as causing geo-bloc

    • The CBC allows not-for-profit distribution. The apps in question are monetizing the podcasts by showing ads, a violation of the CBCs terms of use of the material. Since the apps in question then don't have a license to distribute, they are guilty of copyright infringement. You can't distribute without a license, and you have to obey the terms of the license - that holds just as true here as with the GPL.

      So all you f*ckhead who are getting all indignant without checking the facts, grow up.

    • Block all CBC podcasts. When someone enters, have a dialog box pop up explaining the reason CBC podcasts can't be accessed. See how they like it when their numbers tank. This is the only way some people will learn...

      I think the CBC is saying "You can distribute my stuff for free, but you can't charge for the app or charge a fee to download our podcasts.

      Reminds me of the days my parents had to pay a license to the government for each radio in the house.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Something something malice something something something stupidity
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Malice is often caused by stupidity, and stupidity is often caused by malice.

      It is a fallacy to suppose that it must be just one or the other. (Especially for a large organization, in which some may be moved by malice, and others go along with it out of stupidity - or vice-a-versa.)

  • by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @04:49PM (#53240559)

    CBC publishes an RSS feed, then complains when someone uses it?

    Just remove the feed.

    Oh, what, now nobody is reading your site? Too bad.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Under the free market, this type of idiocy is a self correcting problem.
      This is the CBC though - a government funded monstrosity that is not going anywhere even if no one reads/watches them.

      • When Businesses fail, they go out of business. When government fails, they raise taxes.

        • by r1348 ( 2567295 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @06:29PM (#53241299)

          When Ayn Rand gets cancer, she uses public health care.

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            When Ayn Rand gets cancer, she uses public health care.

            Not these days. You're better off going to the US and getting private health care. When my grandmother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, the doctors and nurses were amazed she was in for treatment so fast. See normally that takes upwards of 3-7 months. Her belief, and many of the doctors is that since she was once a head nurse, someone in the system "bumped her along." Especially since the diagnosis and treatment began just under 14 days.

            • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

              Yeah, that story is believable. Like that posting on cheap oceanfront property in interested?

              • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

                Which part is that? The part where she moved through the system faster then normal? Or that the Ontario patient wait times for treatment agree with me? [] Don't worry if you look like an ass, happens to the best of us. Hey then again, when they lopped the cancer out of my hand, I only waited 7 weeks. That was a far cry of the standard 14 weeks at the time in the early 00's.

                • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

                  Or that the Ontario patient wait times for treatment agree with me?

                  You mean some random site that says nothing about Canadian wait times compared to those in the U.S. - including those south of the border who wait forever until they die, because they can never afford the care they need. A situation that doesn't exist in Canada.

                  Don't worry if you look like an ass

                  Oh, I would worry about me. I'd worry about your complete lack of self-awareness and high levels of willful dumbfuckery. Ciao.

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              You're better off being rich enough to afford high quality private health care.


      • by Anonymous Coward

        Bingo. The CBC is equally happy to have zero viewers. Heck, I live in the 10th largest city in Canada and you can't get CBC TV here. They shut down the transmitter when they went digital and they just don't give a shit. For all the CBC cares they could set up a single 1 watt transmitter in Alert and call it done.

        I imagine their podcast department has equal amounts of fucks to give. I pay the same for the CBC even though I can't watch it. That's the Canadian way!

    • by Anonymous Coward
      People keep forgetting this is a corporation reusing the feed to further its own interest and profit. They don't complain that joe blow is getting their feed they complain that google take it and republish it. Copyright is just about control of the copy of a work. Google is indeed copying a work (the feed) and redistributing. Like it or not , this is a valid complaint.
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      No they are complaining that developers are including RSS feeds in commercial apps in clear violation of their ToU. If you profit by including their work, you have to license it for commercial use: costs for commercial content start at about 10k/year but could easily surpass several 100k if you want stuff like ESPN or other high profile content.

      Just because something is public doesn't mean it doesn't have copyright or associated licenses. The question is obviously whether a data feed added by the user is "c

      • This sounds like the "should cable companies pay over-air tv channels, even though they transmit the commercials too" debate all over again.

      • The question is obviously whether a data feed added by the user is "commercial use"

        The TFA is pretty one sided, only containing a partial quote of an email supplied by someone arguing against it. My bet is this is more about feeds added to an app by default. This would align with their claim that the maker of the app (or whoever provided the url)has visited their website and agreed with their TOS, as stated in the email.

        I would imagine the courts would eventually side with app makers. But CBC does have a valid argument.

  • by bananaquackmoo ( 1204116 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @04:50PM (#53240563)
    Seriously? Have they ever thought of not publishing the RSS feed then? They have to go out of their way to make one. It's not something a magical fairy does that they can't stop.
    • This is what I was thinking.

      Other possibilities:

      1. Make some ACL's in the 'ol firewall which only grant access to authorized IP's
      2. Use some kind of authentication scheme to grant access
      3. Create a custom API for getting podcasts out there
      4. Lock down access to everything and create a custom app yourself or just grant access only through a web interface
      5. Fuck off

      The control is entirely in their hands.... what are they complaining about?

      They are, almost certainly, spending more in lawyer fees than most of t

      • I would think that an rss reader would preload feeds that they already have a contract with and it would be the content provider paying to have their feed preloaded.

        Since the app isn't named in the reddit post which is the only source for the article there really isn't anyway for us to tell.. it may be an ad supported app with the CBC name on it and the feed preloaded.

      • Boggles the mind that a company would rather play a game of legal whack-a-mole than actually pursue a solution to the root issue (which is "unauthorized" access to their content).

        Depends on who has the bigger department: Legal or Technical Development.

        Guess which one outweighs the other at CBC...

    • Seriously? Have they ever thought of not publishing the RSS feed then?...

      The ignorant PHB who decided this probably has not, no. The stupid PHB would also never think of wandering over to the CBC IT department and asking one of the tech people how this all works either, because they probably think of it as a 'Business" thing.

      Don't forget, the chances that the person who is in charge actually has any clue is about 50/50.

      I base that on 30 years of working in the private sector, I don't imagine the ratio is much better at CBC.

  • Yes, in Canada, I assure somewhere in the CBC there is a bilingual public servant that is absolutely this stupid.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The CBC wants to make sure someone isn't reselling their freely available content (either through purchasing an app or through in-app ad revenue) without a license.

    It's CBC content, they can set of terms for using it... without knowing what the app developer was trying to do, it's hard for me to fault CBC.

    • The CBC wants to make sure someone isn't reselling their freely available content (either through purchasing an app or through in-app ad revenue) without a license.

      It's CBC content, they can set of terms for using it... without knowing what the app developer was trying to do, it's hard for me to fault CBC.

      If I put a poster up on the community bulletin board, do I also get to say who gets to read it and under what conditions? It may be my content, but even if someone sticks tacky little ads all around my beautiful, pristine, artistic poster so as to monetize the shit out of it, I'm pretty sure I don't have any recourse other than taking it down. Then nobody gets the benefit of worshiping my sublime poster-making skills...and therein lies the real tragedy.

      Hey CBC: suck it up, buttercup.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        If I put a poster up on the community bulletin board, do I also get to say who gets to read it and under what conditions?

        It's even worse than that..... they're putting the poster up on their public storefront, And they're then trying to sue Auto makers because they provide a GPS pre-programmed with the location of the poster as an "attraction", with commercial advertisements in the GPS app.

  • violating copyright law is better then hacking.

    and hacking laws have been used under with cases where people where loading a public URL without permission

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @04:51PM (#53240579)
    If the CBC doesn't want people to retrieve the content with readily available tools using protocols designed by independent or semi-independent standards-bodies for the express purpose of fostering open communication, then why are they publishing their content using protocols designed for this express purpose?

    If they want to limit access to entirely within their control they are perfectly free to write an end-user application that retrieves encrypted content and displays it solely within their application. Indeed, before HTTP and Gopher this was a very common way to retrieve content. EBSCO and other Library Retrieval software was quite popular.
    • We don't know that the article is based on a reddit post that doesn't even say what the app is... for all we know it could be an ad supported app claiming to be the official CBC feed.

  • I don't see an example of the apps in question, but the only case where CBC's argument might be valid is if it's not actually an RSS app, but something that has pulled the feeds from RSS and is specifically distributing them for pay (e.g. a compilation on disk or some audio archive). Alternately, I suppose if they were selling access to CBC's feed when it should be free, it would be somewhat like hijacking a FOSS project.

    The article is a bit light on details of the app in question and/or what it actually do

  • by Anonymous Coward

    On this day when people look to the United States as filling the category "News of the Dumb", our friendly neighbors to the north sail in to our rescue.

  • by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @04:56PM (#53240621)
    Seems like I'll be writing to the CBC Ombudsman after work as well as the supervising minister...
  • If CBC doesn't want people to access their content indirectly, they can configure their servers to prohibit such activity. The fact that they haven't means they aren't serious or they are idiots. In both cases, their words lack credibility.

    • At this point the article references only a post on reddit with a partial copy of the email sent to an unknown app developer but I could see a commercial app with a preloaded feed using the and CBC name having a problem.

  • the scary thing is that they could prevail. stupid seems to win too often these days.
  • by Imazalil ( 553163 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @05:03PM (#53240665)

    I know you've got your pitchforks our already, but this is all based on one reddit posting.

    Not saying it's wrong, not happening or anything, but jesus, at least wait until two app makers have been impacted. We don't even know which app this is all about.

  • In some ways, the podcasts the CBC provides are a lifeline for Canadians who live abroad, but unlike the UK, they don't have a funding source.

    That said, I can't see the Supreme Court of Canada agreeing with this motion by the CBC. It just doesn't pass the smell test.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ever use Stitcher for Podcasts? They grab another person's podcast, wrap it 2 or 4 or 6 additional ads (and don't share the revenue), and then replay the podcast. I don't like it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The previous prime minister Stephen Harper appointed the new board for the CBC, and now that the conservatives are out of power their mandate has become destruction instead of control.

    An example: []

    Jan Wong has violated section 319(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada by publishing this. (wilful promotion of hate against an identifiable group) Pre-Harper, the CBC would never have published such garbage.

    The CBC has become very Fox Ne

  • by mbeckman ( 645148 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @05:44PM (#53240997)
    The CBC argues in essence that web browsers are illegal, since anyone bookmark any link in their browser. It's just Canada though. The world won't notice their absence from the web :)
  • The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is funded by the taxpayers (at least partially). They post their podcasts on their website without authentication or any special effort needed to access the raw mp4/3 files. In addition to creating RSS feeds. For example: Under the Influence [] is a great informative podcast about marketing history, challenges, and techniques.

  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @06:03PM (#53241121)

    I'm tentatively calling BS on this. FTA, some quotes from the warning that the CBC supposedly issued:

    ... you have agreed to our our Terms of Use located at ...
    ... I would ask to cease immediately the use of our unlicensed podcasts ...
    ... If you interested in CBC content and podcast, we can discuss a license fee model ...
    ... I would be happy to have a call to discuss further our content and services ...

    This is a legal matter, and I very much doubt that the Ceeb would send out such a warning without first having its wording vetted by legal staff. It seems that this little missive wasn't even vetted by anyone whose first language is English. Somebody, (perhaps an insider), may be about to lose his or her job over this.

  • This is the same public broadcaster that was releasing video for free via BitTorrent in 2008...
    • I think that there are some pockets within the CBC that are really in touch with their audience and do things like that and podcasting. But then word gets to the corporate level and they have to shut things down.

  • I assume they are considering this the same as using an image URL from another website in you website. Essentially stealing their bandwidth and using their photo. Now I don't know much about copyright so what I described be "illegal" or just immoral? Now this is the same but an RSS feed may be a different story.
  • I kid, I kid. Keep your stick on the ice.
  • Valérie ans, achète toujours des chaussures dans lesquelles elle se sent . bien, immédiatement .. Le jour de son mariage, elle a envisagé de quitter son statut de jeune femme solide, les pieds sur terre. Elle avait pensé se jucher sur des hauts talons, ce qui l’a considérablement fragilisée et déséquilibrée C’était l’angoisse. J’ai acheté deux paires d’escarpins : des rouges que j’ai essayé de “briser
  • About three or four years ago they killed all but one of their CBC Radio 3 podcasts and pushed everything over to streaming. They explained that it was to get more accurate listening numbers because people could download the podcasts and not listen to them. I was a longtime listener to their podcasts and I'm still missing them because I found a lot of great musicians there. Radio 3 only played Canadian indie musicians. Last time I checked their website it still required Flash which I'm not putting on my

  • One thing that drives me bonkers about CBC podcasts is that the crap advertising in the good ones clearly itemizes which of their shows have the most political influence. If I am listening to a podcast on a very specific topic, I don't want to hear out of date advertisements for their most popular general topic shows. I am 100% certain that they don't advertise the show that I am listening to during the intro to those shows favoured by the toronto psuedo intellectual elite that run the CBC.

    Thus I love the
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am the developer of the app in this report. my app is called Podcast Republic app which runs on Android. I originally wanted to remain anonymous about the whole issue. But after reading the comments I feel I need to speak out for my app to clarify a few questions raised.

    It is true that my app has ads displayed at the bottom of the screen. However, there's no change to any podcast content, no ads injected into any podcast content. My app is a general purpose podcast player and management app. There are no

  • No one compels CBC to encode data in a publicly defined syndication format (RSS or Atom). However, if they do so, then I believe it is reasonable to imply that they accept that their data will be used in the manner which is normal and customary for data in such a format and in such manner as was clearly intended by those who created these formats. If CBC does not wish to syndicate their data, then they are free to use other formats for its encoding or use access control to prevent copying of the data. What

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann