Thursday, March 6, 2014

Copyright infringement?

A while back, I noticed Gawker had embedded the entire pilot episode of The Newsroom onto their site using the hosting platform Viddler.  And I wonder:  Is that technically a copyright violation?

When The Newsroom premiered in June of 2012, HBO temporarily made the pilot available via YouTube and via the HBO player.  Mashable said the episode would only be available until July 23rd. So now, if you follow one of those original links to YouTube, you'll be greeted with a message saying: "This video is private."  Likewise, if you go to a website that had embedded the HBO player, you'll see a message saying: "We're sorry.  This video is no longer available."

Gawker must have seen the benefit in embedding the video using their alternate platform.  They originally tried embedding the video using YouTube, but several commenters complained that they were getting an error message saying: "Embedding disabled by request."  So Gawker took down the YouTube version, and replaced it with the Viddler version, and that's the version you can see today.

My impression is that HBO did not want the pilot to be freely available beyond July 23rd.  The situation doesn't seem too different from what Hulu regularly does, when you're allowed to watch the most-recent episodes of a TV show for free, but need a Hulu+ subscription to watch those same episodes when a month has passed.

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