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

Chris Petersen lists at forevermore.net
Mon Sep 10 01:34:09 UTC 2007

On 9/9/07, kijuhty kijuhty <kijuhty at gmail.com> wrote:
> Did you read that post from aaron at pluto stating that sponsor(s) offered
> to pay for data direct/zap2it to keep it free?

It's interesting to note that no one involved with SD heard about this
offer, either from Pluto, Fiire (whoever they are) or Tribune, and we
sent inquiry emails to just about every company we could think of to
find a free-for-the-users solution.  We were either turned down bluntly,
ignored, or told (after some negotiations on the remote end) that their
contract with their data licensor (usually TMS) would not let them
resell their data to us.  We did get at least one "we'll deal with it
for you" offer from a very nice company who got TMS to allow them to
resell to us, but their flat $60/year pricetag (the best they could
offer) was 2-3x higher than what we calculated we could charge by
dealing with TMS directly.

SD is open to any commercial sponsorship, so if anyone has contacts at
some philanthropic organizations, feel free to pass our contact info along.

> 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.

Funny.  I'm the guy who holds the SD checkbook, and so far the only
person who has been "paid" by SD was the guy who offered us a *large*
interest-free loan so we could make our down payment to TMS (meaning,
he's losing the interest that he would otherwise gain by keeping it in
the bank).  Because we're a non-profit, we *can't* pay ourselves or the
IRS would come after us with gigantic tax penalties.  If you don't
believe us when we say so, then wait until it's time for SD to file its
annual taxes, and you can see for yourselves (since as a non-profit,
that information will be public).

That doesn't mean that we don't hope/plan to use any excess money to
contribute back to the FOSS community so that the developers of projects
like MythTV, Freevo and XMLTV don't have to continuously use their own
money to pay for trade show exhibits, newly-released tuner cards, etc.
It does still mean that even though I'm a MythTV developer, I couldn't
take ANY money or hardware that wasn't immediately consumed for another
purpose (e.g printing Knopmyth CDs to give away) while I sit on the SD
board.  And as far as the amount/location that money goes, I fully
intend to throw my SD board member vote toward "set up a poll and let
the SD members choose where the money goes".

Please also keep in mind that SD is *not* MythTV, nor are MythTV users
the only customers of SD.  While you/we are certainly the most vocal
group at the moment, there are a lot of other people out there (mainly
the free-as-in-beer folks) who would be out in the cold if SD hadn't
been formed.

No one is going to ever be able to say why exactly TMS stopped the free
Labs service -- if anyone actually knows all of the real reasons,
they're probably bound up by a tight NDA.

No one is stopping people from writing scrapers.  They're completely
legal as long as they don't violate the ToS of the website they're
scraping.  The problem is that all of the major sites that people talk
about scraping have specific "no automation" type clauses in them that
make it a violation to use a scraper, even as an individual.  That
doesn't make them "illegal", per se, but it does open up both the author
and the users to possible civil lawsuits from the site owners.  I've
heard about some people writing scrapers for their local provider's
login-required type websites (e.g. comcast.com), which may NOT violate
any TOS.  If that's the case, then I have little doubt that xmltv would
welcome the addition.  The problem is that solution wouldn't serve all
of the users very well, and a lot of people (judging by the usage
numbers at SD) would prefer to avoid the hassle of broken scrapers that
only provide incomplete data at best.

SD has *also* talked about providing cheaper (or possibly even free)
"limited data" access in the future.  The problem with this is that we
don't know how that would affect our ability to license the TMS data,
and until we're on stronger financial footing, it wouldn't be worthwhile
even opening up discussions about this with TMS.


... I really need to stop reading this FUD.  It just annoys those of us
who are involved in the process of things, and care about how MythTV and
the FOSS community are perceived.  Because SD is a business, there are
just some things that the members can't talk about, often because of
NDAs that we've had to sign with various parties, or because lawyers
have advised us not to.  It's a real pity to see a tiny number of
individuals causing SO much noise about "their issues" with
SD/TMS/whoever.  The other group (which numbers well into the
thousands), thankfully sits there quietly enjoying whatever listings
data source they chose to use (be it SD, a legal/illegal scraper, EIT,
or whatever), and we as MythTV developers, MythTV community members and
even the SD board, really appreciate it.

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