Video on global demand
October 22, 2009 3:47 AM   Subscribe

All TV episodes of This American Life are currently available for free in the U.S. through the main Chinese video sharing site; Youku (here's an episode guide and Season 1, Season 2.)

Youku usually blocks U.S. audiences from viewing major U.S. content (Jaws, Casablanca, Citizen Kane). Episodes of "This American Life" may also be purchased in the U.S. through Netflix, Amazon, or iTunes.
posted by twoleftfeet (42 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
TAL is great stuff (the TV show especially so) but this feels kind of skeevy for an FPP. Is it kosher to build posts around obviously pirated content like this?
posted by Rhaomi at 3:59 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is it kosher to build posts around obviously pirated content like this?

Yes. It's not obviously pirated. Youku will be as big as Youtube pretty soon. It's worth the debate.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:01 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been an off-and-on listener for about a decade, and up until five minutes ago, I believed that Ira Glass resembled Richard Lewis (mullet and all.) I have absolutely no idea how I originally came to that conclusion, but it definitely seems completely insane in retrospect.
posted by biggity at 4:09 AM on October 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Rhaomi: "Is it kosher to build posts around obviously pirated content like this?"

Considering we've done it before to huge numbers of favorites and acclaim and a little bit of hand-wringing, I think it's fairly okay. Whether this is a good post is a different question.
posted by Plutor at 4:12 AM on October 22, 2009


Considering we've done it before

Stavrosthewonderchicken did an amazing job there, but this post, good or bad, has more to do with the emerging reality of a Chinese equivalent of YouTube, copyright leniency and all.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:21 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh come on people, this is the internet.
posted by phrontist at 4:31 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


twoleftfeet: It's worth the debate.

Wait – is it worth an FPP or worth having a debate about?
posted by koeselitz at 4:32 AM on October 22, 2009


This is not piracy. (What jurisdictionally relevant law is being broken?)

The thread could certainly start an interesting debate on international copyrights and the greying temples thereof, but this is not some pirate website that has a Kramer-style screener of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, here.
posted by rokusan at 4:33 AM on October 22, 2009


Plutor: "Considering we've done it before to huge numbers of favorites and acclaim and a little bit of hand-wringing, I think it's fairly okay. Whether this is a good post is a different question."

Good call, Plutor -- I'd seen stav's megapost before, but had thought it linked to SouthParkStudios.com/Adult Swim Video/etc. types of official sources, not just video sites that happened to have the content.

And twoleftfeet, I didn't mean this as a judgment call. I've watched my share of videos on sites like YouKu and have even linked to them in comments, but I'd always assumed that FPPs were held to a stricter standard of "legitimacy" or what have you. For instance, the movie Paranormal Activity is already available on several streaming video sites, but if I made a post talking about its development process and the hype surrounding it and then linked to such a stream incidentally, I'd be really surprised if it were allowed to stand.

Am I wrong in thinking that, policy-wise?
posted by Rhaomi at 4:36 AM on October 22, 2009


Wait – is it worth an FPP or worth having a debate about?

The first two seasons of the TV version of This American Life are worth an FPP. Whether or not we should be allowed to view them because they come from the most popular video site in China... yes, that's a debate.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:44 AM on October 22, 2009


We should probably have Metafilter policy discussions in metatalk, so here's a metatalk post for that.
posted by koeselitz at 4:55 AM on October 22, 2009


Rhaomi: "Am I wrong in thinking that, policy-wise?"

After doing some digging through MetaTalk, it looks like the answer is a solid "yes":

jessamyn: "Our policy is don't link to stuff that might make people come after mathowie. So, we prefer if you don't link to torrents of copyrighted material or blatant copyright violations (full scans of comics or books, more because they're likely to go away than we're afraid of the boogeyman) but linking to stuff other places is not necessarily an issue if you have every reason to think that the material/link will stay up [i.e. isn't some fly-by-night scribd thing]."

Previous discussions:
What is MeFi policy on linking to material that is copyrighted in the US?

jessamyn has invited us to have a discussion about copyright issues in MetaTalk.

Is there a definite rule about not FPPing links to possibly copyrighted material?

So, this FPP linking to a copyrighted movie is ok, but this one discussing how to download music in a place where it's legal to do so is not...

Is there a policy on posting Youtube links to stuff that is (most likely) under copyright?

Not even Calvin and Hobbes is safe!

Lots more
Consider the handwringing retracted!
posted by Rhaomi at 4:55 AM on October 22, 2009


If you have Netflix, both seasons are also available for streaming.

It's a good show. I prefer the radio version as they don't get as wrapped up in trying to frame 'heartfelt documentary shots' which really eats into the shorted time of the TV program.

If you ever have a chance to see a live taping of TAL, do it. We saw the taping they did here in Boston a few years back (Mates of State as house band singing the theme song for The OC after Ira Glass professes his love for the show!) and it was amazing.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:04 AM on October 22, 2009


this american life is a television show? who knew?
posted by msconduct at 5:31 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, I do like copyright leniency...
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:37 AM on October 22, 2009


What I'm really looking for is a recording of the Live cinema event, but I haven't been able to find one. The third act is of sheer heartbreaking brilliance.

(Long live TAL!)
posted by lodev at 6:41 AM on October 22, 2009


I can't read anything on that site but I am not in the US, which means that I am locked out from sites like hulu or fox or cbs. I really appreciate this link, especially since I can't even buy my access into hulu from germany. (I know my clicks are worth less to nbc and I'd be willing to make it up with perhaps $5/month. I just want english-language shows, not dubbed stuff.)
posted by krautland at 6:44 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here is some information on how T.A.L. stores every episode of its radio broadcast online.
posted by eccnineten at 6:44 AM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


This probably works better as two posts: one about TAL and one about Youku.

Both worth discussing, I think.
posted by rokusan at 6:45 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


So wait, gimme the bottom line here: Is it unethical to watch Ira courtesy of the Chinese?
posted by rough at 6:45 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing. [pause] China has its own views. [pause] On copyright, I mean. [pause] So the question becomes... [pause] Who's right?
posted by Joe Beese at 7:00 AM on October 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


krautland: ... I can't even buy my access into hulu from germany.

By the way, krautland, in case you didn't know: using a proxy server will allow you to visit any web site as though you were a resident in just about any country in the world. If you use a US proxy server, you can visit Hulu from Germany if you want.
posted by koeselitz at 7:05 AM on October 22, 2009


This is not piracy. (What jurisdictionally relevant law is being broken?)

Umm, international and domestic Chinese copyright law.

That is not to say the China is cracking down on piracy, even when they should. If China wants to keep to be in the WTO, either it acknowledges international copyright law or that international copyright law changes. I don't see the later happening.

Here's a more global question for you if you think nothing is wrong here - if shows like this cannot syndicate or make money through the web, will they cease to be made or be made in lesser quantities? To me that's the only question, and frankly I think most people guess as to the answer.

If I can be the recipient of just as much good programming if there is a law change as before - maybe more because of availability, then the law seems to be serving a function beyond supporting the useful arts. Translation - it's there to make people money by gaining a monopoly on a product.

Now, next question. Assume that those creating programming aren't discouraged. That content will be created and distributed. Are you ok with a content distributor, such as this Chinese website, making money (probably advertising revenue) without compensation to the creators?

That last question is the hard one in my mind. Without copyright laws or their similar legal cousins, it's hard for the artist to make a share of the distributor's profits. We don't want to admit it, but the citizens of the web are actually creating a new, much more powerful, and ultimately much more greedy set of "record producers" in the form of YouTube (Google) and sites like this. These folks just take content, throw it up on the web, have a goal of making money from it, and absent copyright laws and their enforcement, don't seem to want to share profit with anyone on the creation side. Google has repeatedly engaged in this form of activity, from its acquisition of YouTube (which has created a tug-of-war between content providers and the website) and now the library project.

I just have to laugh a bit considering the "damn the man" attitude we had towards the record industry for so many years, but now that the middle man between us and the content is not charging us as consumers, we seem to have stopped caring that they aren't paying artists. Talk about your fair weather friends.
posted by Muddler at 7:16 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Muddler: "I just have to laugh a bit considering the "damn the man" attitude we had towards the record industry for so many years, but now that the middle man between us and the content is not charging us as consumers, we seem to have stopped caring that they aren't paying artists."

All true. It's the difference - as someone observed - between ripping off the artist to enjoy the work and ripping off the artist to pay for the coke in one's limousine.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:22 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Is it kosher to build posts around obviously pirated content like this?"

I think you've missed more than stavrosthewonderchicken's megapost. Personally, I've linked twice to Youtube content of dubious sources, and then there was this post to full episodes AND the movie, not sourced on YouTube but another site. And then there was the MST3k episode hosting site. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Someone else hosts the streaming content, and as long as the source is vaguely stable, it's OK. Someone else will get bitten by the law, should the copyright holders wish to do anything.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:36 AM on October 22, 2009


In other news, YouTube occasionally posts pirated videos. That's why no one should link to YouTube. It's just wrong! Unless you want to profit.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:44 AM on October 22, 2009


If China wants to keep to be in the WTO, either it acknowledges international copyright law or that international copyright law changes.

That's not why China should do it. All nations have traditionally shunned international organizations (openly or not) when it suits their particular national interests. The US is one of the worst nations when it comes to this.

My parents tell me that Japan once had the reputation as a country that manufactured cheap and cheaply made and poor quality goods. They made the transition beyond this to become the designer and manufacturer of unique, high quality, well designed goods.

China is approaching this transition. And they will never be able to cross through it when their own designers' goods can be cheaply copied by the copy-cat manufacturer the next town over. There needs to be a realistic incentive to put the resources into the production of a new product (be it a radio, a car, a news report, a movie, or a TV show) or it just won't happen.
posted by eye of newt at 8:00 AM on October 22, 2009


Oh and saying it's been done before is the worse type of moral excuse. Everything reduces to the lowest common denominator very quickly.
posted by eye of newt at 8:01 AM on October 22, 2009


Since TIL went on premium cable, and I don't have ANY sort of cable, and since the radio broadcast is skewed towards reruns, most of the time, that I have heard, I take it that they are no longer interested in my attention. I wish them well, but we've both moved on, it seems.
posted by Danf at 8:19 AM on October 22, 2009


TAL, that should have read. . .
posted by Danf at 8:19 AM on October 22, 2009


Yeah, if you have a Netflix membership, stream it there. It'll be in better quality (up to HD) and maybe the TAL people will get a couple pennies tossed their way.
posted by zsazsa at 8:38 AM on October 22, 2009


Here's a more global question for you if you think nothing is wrong here.

I was taking the faith position that this wasn't illegal in China, whose law seems to me as the only one relevant to a website/business run in China.

I wasn't arguing it was right for Americans to link, or view, or whatnot, because it's not like this is the land of liberty or anything. Heck, with the way that copyright lawsuits seem to be fueling the economy in the last decade or so, I expect it might very well be illegal to view it from the USA.

But based on ten thousand other posts on MeFi regarding things like prostitution and marijuana, we can definitely talk about things that are legal elsewhere, right?

In other words, I meant "OMGillegalpiracy!" is a bit of US-centric knee-jerk response, when there are interesting differences here, like your example of whether China cares or not, whether China should care or not, whether we should care if China cares or not....
posted by rokusan at 8:54 AM on October 22, 2009


If you enjoy free content via China, you're helping crush Tibet. Expect Bjork demonstrating outside your home in distinctive clothing.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:26 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


No idea of the legal status of this, though I know that Youku is worried about getting sued (which is why it's probably so slow for you guys -- they don't have overseas servers because of the obvious jurisdictional ramifications), but I've been following TAL the TV show on Youku basically since it started airing, since it's not as if I'm going to have any way of seeing it legitimately here in China. I've recommended This American Life to almost all of my Anglophone friends here, and mailed out Youku links liberally.
posted by bokane at 11:48 AM on October 22, 2009


Also, you guys are aware that this site is not run by the Chinese government, right? Comments on "China's views on copyright" are about as asinine in this context as comments about "America's views on copyright" would be in the case of any US-based website whose users uploaded copyrighted material without the knowledge of the administrators.
posted by bokane at 11:50 AM on October 22, 2009


The Pirate Bay has a 9 GB torrent of 342 episodes of TAL that seems like a good addition to this post.
posted by smackfu at 1:12 PM on October 22, 2009


I know that Youku is worried about getting sued

On one hand, Sohu initiated an anti-piracy lawsuit against Youku. On the other hand, Youku sues Sohu over reputation assault.

which is why it's probably so slow for you guys

There could be other reasons, as discussed in this AskMeFi post.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:35 PM on October 22, 2009


Youku will be as big as Youtube pretty soon
---------------------------
this post, good or bad, has more to do with the emerging reality of a Chinese equivalent of YouTube
---------------------------
the most popular video site in China

======================

I was in shock for a second there: "When did Youku leapfrog Tudou? How did I miss this stunning development?"

Tudou is already bigger than Youtube by some measures. It's established, not emerging.
posted by fatehunter at 5:11 PM on October 22, 2009


"When did Youku leapfrog Tudou?"

That seems to have happened around the first quarter of 2008.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:36 PM on October 22, 2009


koeselitz: wishful thinking on those proxies. many are blocked, others waaaaay too slow (and flash videos don't buffer well) and others should work but don't. I've tried. if you feel like sharing a us-based proxy that actually works, please do mefimail me any time.

before I forget: hotspotshield sucks donkey balls. slowest vpn ever.
posted by krautland at 9:46 PM on October 22, 2009


When did Youku leapfrog Tudou?
--------------------------
That seems to have happened around the first quarter of 2008.
--------------------------

It makes no sense to me to rank video sharing sites by search traffic, and Google search traffic at that. Only a tiny fraction of Chinese netizens use Google.

Tudou is far ahead of Youku in terms of daily visits and videos watched.
posted by fatehunter at 3:02 AM on October 23, 2009


It makes no sense to me to rank video sharing sites by search traffic, and Google search traffic at that. Only a tiny fraction of Chinese netizens use Google.

Google has something like a 25% share in China, and that's enough to compare search trends there. Search trends don't give you traffic numbers, but they likely correlate with traffic trends.

Other sources, including Nielsen, Alexa, and Quantcast all put Youku ahead of Tudou, as did The China Internet Society Data Center of the Chinese Internet (DCCI).
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:18 AM on October 23, 2009


« Older The New Yorker's "Critterati" contest...  |  Fox Rox was a local music show... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments