[mythtv] Listings concept idea

Brad Templeton brad+mydev at templetons.com
Fri Jul 13 04:14:53 UTC 2007

On Wed, Jul 04, 2007 at 02:44:23PM -0400, Michael George wrote:
> This is actually a very interesting legal question.   Can TV Guide copyright
> a database which a collection of public domain facts.  If you assume that
> the TV data is public domain information, then TV Guide can claim only claim
> copyright on their compilation of the facts, but not on the underlying facts
> themselves.

Facts can't be copyrighted.   Databases of facts have had on and off again
copyrightability.   However, we are interested in more than just facts,
there are also program descriptions, which are certainly copyrightable.

These program descriptions are typically written by the networks, and
presumably licenced to the listings companies.   The contracts with the
listings companies may or may not give them the ability to sue over
these descriptions.

We could make the system work without descriptions but I personally
would not want to lose them.

My hope is that a small business springs up that resells the listings
from an appropriately licenced party at a low fee of around $10/year,
using either USENET or P2P distribution methods to avoid bandwidth
costs if need be, but frankly bandwidth today is not so expensive
as to be worth a great deal of coding effort to save a buck or two
a year on bandwidth.  (Bandwidth today is 13 to 20 cents per
gigabyte from Amazon S3, for example.   Compressed, how many gigabytes
is a year's listings, really?)

Now if you want to do it with no fee at all, then P2P or USENET make
the most sense.

But I would happily pay a low fee just to get something that's
stable, something that won't go away one day because somebody
gets bored or wants to sue, or try to block screen scraping. 
Because even if we're in the right on database copyright issues,
it won't matter a lot if there is a lawsuit that we will someday
get dismissed.

If you're really committed to a zero-cost system, one could build
a system where, if you have sufficient users, each user has to
type in one listing entry a week in exchange for getting all the
rest free.   Pretty light workload (best to build up a year's
credit by doing 50 entries in one day) which most people could
handle, but still leaves the description question open.  However,
they could rewrite the descriptions in their own words and be
more legal.  But this is also a lot of code since you need to
be sure people are not entering bogus data, ie. get 2 or 3 people
to enter each listing and detect differences etc.  Too much
code compared to just paying, I suspect.

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