View Full Version : Help Boxee Make its Case to Conent Providers (Yes to Hulu as well!)

February 21st, 2009, 11:41 PM
Go over to http://boxee.pbwiki.com/ which is an open wiki that has been created for the purpose of refining the pitch and make your contribution to this living document! Everyone is welcome to contribute :-)

I think we all know what the concerns are re: Hulu etc... but let's focus our energy on what it would take to create a win-win for both, users and content providers!


Tranceparance :-)

February 22nd, 2009, 12:58 AM
I glanced over your wiki and I am convinced your approach is utterly wrong and potentially damaging not only to the further development of Boxee but to the rights of others to interact creatively with content publicly available on the internet.

It was clear at Comdex that the major media players are very concerned about Boxee and any similar applications that may be developed. I have been surprised by how quickly these companies have moved. The only thing that has kept them at bay thus far is their concerns about 1) public relations and 2) their ability to contain an emerging industry where they have no legal authority.

If you believe that you can "make nice" to preserve the Boxee platform, the best you will achieve is the purchase of a golden parachute for those involved in development whom the major media houses wish to keep contained. If you genuinely care about Boxee and fair access, you need to grow some teeth. If you have not done so already, you need to contact the EFF and ask for their legal assistance. You probably need to find a good attorney -- at the very least you need to be gathering allies. That means, bloggers, podcasters, engadget, gizmodo, etc.

I have not seen anything on your site mentioning the legal justification Hulu gave for compelling Boxee to remove it from the environment. To the degree that Hulu relates to Boxee, Boxee is functioning simply as a Web client optimized for media playback. There are marketing domains where Hulu might have some minor claim (Boxee marketing itself using Hulu to attract customers w/o compensation) but I see no foundation for Legal action on the basis of what Boxee "does". Such a claim would extend to Apple & Yahoo widgets, Windows Gadgets, various scripting languages, XML, and web analytics tools (in short any tool that manipulates content pulled from the web -- like, say, excel).

I know you are all justly proud of Boxee, but this is not a context where you should be marketing it as something "new" ("new" will mean to corporate attorneys that fair use precedent has not yet been set -- this plays to major media's advantage). Again, where Hulu is concerned Boxee is no more than a web browser and it is a very dangerous stance for Hulu to decide which web browsers are "allowed" to access it's content.

By all means, strive for a win-win but understand that this scenario is of little interest to the major media houses, who are desperately trying to reestablish the content monopolies they once had, so offer the carrot but go find yourselves some formidable sticks.

February 22nd, 2009, 01:31 AM
Dear KindWarrior,

You make some interesting points. Although I am not on the official Team-Boxee, I do firmly believe in the idea of where there is a will, there is a way. If the model is not working right now with content providers, it can be made to work through reason and convincing argument. If a new one needs to be created, it can and should be created. We are at a very unique juncture in history which is why it is imperative that as many as people as possible participate in shaping the changes taking place should they be relating to Boxee or something else.

With respect to the notice regarding Hulu, you can find it at blog.boxee.tv.

I invite you and everyone else reading this to contribute their ideas about what the pitch to potential partners should look like on the wiki.


Tranceparance :-)

February 22nd, 2009, 01:31 AM

Based on the history of Music Studios vs. "the World", you are undoubtedly correct in your insistence that we cannot win over content providers by "making nice". That having been said, the record companies were not successfully sued for discrimination against/favoritism of certain content distributors, and it is doubtful that our goals can be acheived by litigation or other forms of jurisprudence.

Should current negotiations fail, the market (legal, grey, and black) will determine this outcome. Recent history does not dictate who will win, but it does argue forcefully that a business model based on restraint of access is a sure loser.

February 22nd, 2009, 02:38 AM
I was not suggesting litigation; I was suggesting demonstrating the wherewithal to ward off litigation. You are right, it is folly to think you can "punish" the big players in the court system. You do, however, become much more difficult a bug to squash if you have the means to successfully defend against, or avoid, simple legal attacks.

February 22nd, 2009, 01:10 PM
Unfortunately the community lacks all the facts as to how Hulu's removal from boxee came to pass. Based upon what has been published, I assume that boxee was not "forced" to remove Hulu. There was probably some agreement between the 2 companies that allowed boxee access to a customized API, specialized streams, priority bandwidth, etc which made development of the Hulu plugin much easier.

What I believe Hulu has done is request that boxee remove hulu content and cut off access to these "preferred provider" features making the current Hulu plugin non-functional.

I seriously doubt that Hulu can or would do anything to prevent another plugin, official or not, that does not leverage any of these special features from making its way into the product.

Right now it is not in boxee's best interest to defy the wishes of content providers, so I think everyone is playing nice and hoping for a mutually beneficial outcome. It is ridiculous to be talking about lawsuits at the present time.

February 22nd, 2009, 01:23 PM
I actually agree very much with kindwarrior on this one.. but I also believe that any problem is best solved outside of court, so I hope this doesn't degenerate into a bunch of lawyering.

Boxee is a web client, and so this was a case of Hulu deciding which browsers could view its content. Boxee is (in this case) Flash-capable, and was mostly accessing Hulu in the exact same way that any other browser does.

This was even more than just a case of Hulu deciding which browsers to support though - the bigger picture is that media companies want to control which screens you watch your internet content on. That's what pisses me off, because it's inherently ridiculous & it's really none of their business how I use my computer or the web.

We (internet media consumers & developers) can extend our support for Hulu, and the big media corporations, but if they don't accept our support then we'll be required to find an alternative, and the alternatives may be completely unprofitable for them. They're ending Boxee support because they think they can pick the alternative for us - they can not.

February 22nd, 2009, 02:30 PM

Well put... its good to be prudent however too much legal involvement will only increase temperatures and FEES for not much in return.

Content providers cannot dictate how we choose to access our media however much they may try.


Tranceparance :-)