[mythtv-users] Written proof that we've all been conned about SD

Matt skd5aner at gmail.com
Sun Sep 9 23:30:53 UTC 2007

On 9/9/07, kijuhty kijuhty <kijuhty at gmail.com> wrote:
> How does your foot taste Phil, Greg, Jay, William et al?
> Did you read that post from aaron at pluto stating that sponsor(s) offered
> to pay for data direct/zap2it to keep it free?
> http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/mythtv/users/287094
> There you have the proof in black & white from a commercial Tribune
> licensor, quoting a Tribune employee, showing that there was zero chance
> that the free zap2it labs would ever have gone away, that it was a bluff,
> that we never would have had to go back to screen scraping anyway, and that
> Tribune's goal from the moment they made the announcement they would
> terminate zap2it was to test the waters to see if they could partner with
> some of the Myth developers to turn Myth into a for-profit venture, and that
> had the answer been 'no', we would still have free guide data.
> I'll try again to lay out the facts.  As you can see Tribune had these
> options with data direct:
> 1) Continue to pay for the servers, IT staff, bandwidth, etc. needed to keep
> data direct a free service.
> 2) Let sponsor(s) shell out all the cash and resources to keep it free and
> accept from that sponsor $24k/year or more that was pure profit straight to
> Tribune's bottom line, with the assurance that nobody would ever have any
> reason to consider screen scraping.
> 3) Terminate zap2itlabs and then spend hundreds of thousands to revamp the
> whole site to thwart screen scrapers, perhaps hundreds of thousands more in
> extra bandwidth charges to transmit the web-based guide data in flash or an
> image or some other hard-to-scrape format, and devote significant staff
> resources to constantly change the site to try stay one step ahead of the
> screen scraper authors, with no chance of making 1 dime off the FOSS users,
> and the knowledge that every time someone succeeded in screen scraping it
> would bog down their servers making it harder for real users to get to the
> site, and completely throw off their advertising figures, putting their core
> revenue model at risk.
> 4) See if the Myth community would accept changing MythTV from being free
> software into a paid service and try to turn it into a profit center that
> would make more profit than option #2.
> 5) Make Myth a paid service, like option #4, but instead of pricing it based
> on what the market would bear, have the goal of making it non-profit, unlike
> option #2 and #4 which would generate a profit.
> Months ago Tribune announced that they were going to do option 3.  And it
> seems most of the Myth community just went, "Uh, duh, ok".  You guys have
> obviously never run a business.  No businessman would choose option 3.  It's
> suicide.  Any corporate President who chose that option would be fired for
> being a moron.  When Tribune first faced screen scrapers, they choose option
> 1 over option 3 because option 3 was that bad.  And like I said, if Tribune
> really wanted to cancel zap2it and wasn't just bluffing they would have done
> so with no notice whatsoever so that a good percentage of myth's user base
> went away since they wouldn't wait for screen scrapers to be developed.  It
> was obvious from day 1 when Tribune made that announcement that they never
> intended to actually follow through on that threat and were just testing the
> waters for option #4, with option #2 being a fall back, and worst case,
> option #5; the non-profit claim which we're led to believe this is.  If 4, 2
> and 5 all fell through, they'd stick which option #1 like they had for years
> because option #3 was not even a consideration since they already concluded
> 5 years ago that worst case option #1 was better than option #3.  The fact
> that the Myth community bought into the "option #3" bluff was disappointing,
> since this really wasn't hard to see for what it was.  But what drove me
> over the edge to post these flaming comments is that even now after it's
> done, idiots like Jay insist that option #3 is still a big threat looming
> overhead and that if we even discuss screen scraping somehow Tribune is
> going to go back and follow through on that option #3 threat.  Ooooh....  We
> have to walk on our tip toes so as not to upset Tribune/SD because if we do
> they'll go masochistic and shoot themselves in the foot by choosing option
> #3.  This leads me to believe that Jay is either a total idiot, or he's
> being compensated somehow to defend the SD business model.
> Make no mistake...  The SD service is *not* non-profit, certainly not for
> Tribune, and my guess is it's not for the myth devs either.  Compare those
> options 1-5 again.  If SD was non-profit (option #5), Tribune would have
> taken option 2 since it costs them nothing, relieves all the burden, and
> gives them a royalty payment that is pure profit to the bottom line, and no
> company turns down the chance to add to their profit, even if it is only
> $24k, that's better than nothing.  They only went for option 4 because that
> represented *more* profit than option 2, not non-profit.  The SD founders
> insist that they're not making any money on this and that the contrary
> they're shelling out their own precious time and money to make SD happen.
> Why would they do that, since a sponsor offered to cover all the costs, do
> all the work, and keep it free?  Why didn't the Myth developers just say to
> Tribune "thanks, but no thanks, we'd prefer to keep MythTV free" since they
> knew that by doing that Tribune would have chosen option 1 or 2 and zap2it
> would have continued to be free, and there was no chance of option 3?  Given
> that post, unless Tribune lied to the Myth devs and told them were going to
> choose option #3 and the Myth devs actually fell for it, you've got to
> believe the Myth devs are in on it and are making a profit off SD.
> Otherwise why didn't anybody tell us sponsors had offered to subsidize data
> direct?
> What pisses me off the most is not that the Myth developers decided to turn
> this into a commercial venture, it's the lies and hypocrisy.  Just admit
> that SD is about generating profit for Tribune and/or the Myth devs and stop
> the silly charade pretending that if it weren't for SD then Tribune would
> have chosen option #3 and we'd all be left high and dry fighting with screen
> scraping.  What's so baffling is that the sham is *sooo* obvious but the
> lemmings in the Myth community are going along with it without stopping to
> think about it objectively.  The fact is that Myth would have continued to
> be free if the Myth community had said "we see through this laughable threat
> to terminate zap2it labs and we're not falling for it, we'll call your bluff
> and if you really want option 3, fine, we'll go back to screen scraping."
> Then Tribune would have chosen option 1 or 2.  So when Jay says that those
> of us discussing screen scrapers will "ruin it for the rest", no Jay, by not
> discussing screen scrapers you already did ruin it for the rest of us.  If
> we threaten to do screen scraping and option #4 fails, Tribune *will not* go
> for option 3, they'll go for 1 or 2.  Duh.  It's just common sense.
> Other FOSS projects have turned from being free into for-profit.  The
> difference is they're honest about it.  If you go to a Gracenote forum and
> talk about using alternative, free software that will circumvent the need to
> pay for their service, they'll admit that they're banning such posts because
> it threatens their business model.  But in Myth's case, it's a facade.  They
> instead pretend to take the moral high ground and insist they're banning the
> discussion of screen scrapers, not because it's a threat to SD's business,
> but rather because according to the legal system screen scraping is stealing
> someone else's IP.
> Geoff's post was hilarious: "the list owners now recognize that scraping in
> defiance of user agreements or web-site owners is illegal....  Isaac and
> others do not ... want to be associated with it in any way. If they did 'it'
> in the past, they no longer do, and regret having done so."  I believe that
> as much as I believe Ted Haggard's declaration that he's been "cured" of the
> desire to take it up the ass.
> If the list owners are truly born again and are now cheerleaders for
> protecting corporate IP, then what happened when I pointed out that just
> pausing live tv is also stealing someone's IP since that's patented, and
> ditto for displaying an EPG grid, and that if their real concern was being
> totally legal and not stealing IP, then they should ban any and all
> discussion about "stealing" *anybody* else's IP, and not only ban
> discussions about stealing IP that would hurt SD's business model?
> <Crickets chirping>  Nobody responded.  R.J.'s comment that the RIAA would
> shut down Myth because of screen scraping is absurd.  First the RIAA has no
> interest in Myth; they're about music downloads not TV:
> http://www.riaa.org/physicalpiracy.php.  It's the MPAA
> that's battling PVR's.  Regardless if they or anybody else wanted to use the
> legal system to get MythTV shut down, it wouldn't be because of screen
> scraping guide data, which is a gray area since Google and others do it
> anyway.  They would attack Myth for using FFMPEG and not paying the license
> fee, or for violating the patents of TiVo, Gemstar, Echostar, etc.  *Those*
> are much more clear, black & white legal violations that are easy to
> enforce, and that have already been proven in the judicial system.  Nobody
> is going to sue Isaac because somebody posted to the myth list about screen
> scraping since that's such a gray area with no clear boundaries because the
> data is made public anyway and the user never actually signs a TOS agreement
> and there is no precedent in the judicial system about the legality of
> screen scraping.  Duh.  The ban of discussions about screen scraping is to
> protect SD's revenue model, not to protect Myth from IP violations.
> >> Phil: If you don't like the product, DON'T USE IT.
> Myth was promoted from day 1 as being a "free" solution, and many of us
> actively contributed to support it for that reason.  Now some myth devs want
> to take our contributions and make it a for-profit venture that benefits
> only a few, ban any discussions that might lead to it again being a "free
> solution" and saying "If you don't like the product [now that it's not
> free], DON'T USE IT."  You miss the whole point of the FOSS movement.  It's
> about a mutual commitment.  We all make a pledge to contribute to keep it
> free, and so when a few of the developers decide to pull the rug out and
> make it a non-free solution, that's a violation of that trust, particularly
> since it's clear they had options for keeping it free.
> >> William: After all, if you cannot afford $5/month you should not be
> building PVR systems, you probably should not even own a computer
> It has nothing to do with the amount.  It's a black & white issue: is it a
> free solution or not.  I don't care if it's 1 cent or 1 million dollars.  I
> didn't get Myth because I couldn't afford TiVo's subscription.  The dollar
> amount isn't the issue.  The issue is that it's not a free solution anymore
> because the myth developers chose to partner with Tribune to turn it into a
> commercial venture even though they had alternatives that would have kept it
> free.  William, now you sound like Microsoft.  The OEM license for Windows
> is only $20 or so.  So Bill Gates could borrow your words: "After all, if
> you cannot afford [$20 for Windows] you should not ... even own a computer."
>  It's not the dollar amount.  It's free vs. non-free.  And it's the fact
> that the Myth/SD devs won't be honest and admit that it's a for profit
> venture.  I have more respect for Bill Gates because at least he's honest
> and doesn't try to hide the fact that he's in it to make a profit.
> >> Greg: The SD crew is not  making any money on this. If any one of the
> other Listings companies that were approached had said yes SD would never
> have been formed.
> Greg, do you want some of my swampland in Florida?  If that were true, then
> why didn't they go for a sponsored alternative that would have kept SD free
> and not required any effort on their part?  Why weren't any of us told
> months ago that sponsors were willing to pay to keep DD free?  Duh.
> As far as why I'm posting this, it's not to bash SD or Myth for going
> commercial.  Whether you're for or against commercialization and
> profiteering is an opinion, liberal vs conservative thinking, that's all
> subjective opinions.  What is clear-cut and black & white is if the
> community is honest and objective and acknowledges the fact that SD exists
> for the purpose of generating a profit for Tribune and/or Myth devs, and
> that if the Myth community said 'no' to SD and threatened to do screen
> scraping, then the guide data would still be free like it was before, and
> that attempts to ban discussion of screen scraping is to protect SD's
> business and not because of a serious threat.  I'm not arguing that SD
> should go away or that we should boycott it or that a free or sponsored
> solution is better.  I'm not arguing for or against SD.  I'm only saying
> that if you choose to support it you should do so because you made an
> informed decision and not because you were conned and too dumb to realize
> it, and that open discussion on the list shouldn't be censored to protect
> SD's business.
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So I guess usenet isn't dead?


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