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CBC Threatens to Sue Developer of Canadian Radio Player

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An interesting development has ensued between the CBC and Canadian developer, Cory Alder of Vancouver. He developed an app titled Canadian Radio Player, available in the Mac App Store for $2.99, to enable CBC radio streams on your Mac, from anywhere.

Originally, the app contained a reference to the CBC and use of its logo, but was soon changed. The CBC isn’t happy about this app, and has fired off a cease and decist letter, citing copyright infringement:

“Again, your unauthorized use of CBC’s marks and content (i.e. re-distribution of CBC’s radio content) infringes on CBC’s intellectual property. To be clear, CBC objects to your use, repackaging, and sale of CBC’s marks and radio content without authority.” [letter]

Dave has since given his side of the story on his blog and is bewildered, noting the irony of his own tax dollars are being used to pay for the CBC lawyer being used against him.

“They are citing copyright infringement but they can’t actually point to anything specific…this story is of concern to all Canadians, because it’s about our public broadcaster trying to control how we listen to their broadcasts…I believe this exemplifies that, at least their legal department, has a hostile attitude towards openness and access to content.”

What do you think? Does CBC have a case here or is this developer being treated unfairly by the CBC?

[via Toronto Sun]

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  • Digital Native

    The problem is that the developer is selling his app. I think if he were giving it away it would be another matter. But taxpayers cannot take public content and then sell it.

  • Codeblue009

    If I understand correctly, he made a program that makes it easy to listen to a live(or not live) STREAM(ie the data is streamed not stored in the program) … Other than the logo there shouldn’t b a problem… Its like a media player, that’s being sold not CBC content

  • Fbar

    It’s very clear – unauthorized distribution of copywritten content. Just because the CBC is a public company doesn’t mean all Canadians own the content. Just because other apps distribute radio and TV signals doesn’t mean that the practice is legal.

  • Fbar

    It’s very clear – unauthorized distribution of copywritten content. Just because the CBC is a public company doesn’t mean all Canadians own the content. Just because other apps distribute radio and TV signals doesn’t mean that the practice is legal.

  • cac

    It’s not unlike the CBC suing Sony because they manufactured a radio that plays CBC content. Just as long as they don’t put a CBC logo on it.

  • Jdutch101

    The problem is that the CBC has invested lots of resources making its content widely available already. You can literally stream their stations on any device with an Internet connection, as well as satellite radio and the regular air waves. This developer should not be allowed to sell his program if it is specifically designed to stream CBC only, because technically that is what the CBC has already done. They DO have legal grounds to sue anyone who tries to make money distributing their product.

    Of course the fact that is is a “public company” grays the matter slightly and unfortunately I am not up to snuff on the policies for such a case. It would be my guess however, that just because SOME of your tax dollars go to funding the content, that does not mean you can do whatever you’d like with it. I wonder about what would happen with a company like Prairie Public Television in the states. Because technically if you made the same argument for the CBC, a doner who supports the station with a large sum of money, technically owns that company, and yet it remains it’s own entity, and I believe, would follow the CBC’s lead in suing someone who made it possible to stream all their content, while charging for it. If they aren’t making the money, their rights are being infringed upon.
     
    As a regular CBC listener, I’d be really interested to hear how this plays out.

     

  • Jdutch101

    The problem is that the CBC has invested lots of resources making its content widely available already. You can literally stream their stations on any device with an Internet connection, as well as satellite radio and the regular air waves. This developer should not be allowed to sell his program if it is specifically designed to stream CBC only, because technically that is what the CBC has already done. They DO have legal grounds to sue anyone who tries to make money distributing their product.

    Of course the fact that is is a “public company” grays the matter slightly and unfortunately I am not up to snuff on the policies for such a case. It would be my guess however, that just because SOME of your tax dollars go to funding the content, that does not mean you can do whatever you’d like with it. I wonder about what would happen with a company like Prairie Public Television in the states. Because technically if you made the same argument for the CBC, a doner who supports the station with a large sum of money, technically owns that company, and yet it remains it’s own entity, and I believe, would follow the CBC’s lead in suing someone who made it possible to stream all their content, while charging for it. If they aren’t making the money, their rights are being infringed upon.
     
    As a regular CBC listener, I’d be really interested to hear how this plays out.

     

  • Jdutch101

    Sorry, I meant that if Prairie Public aren’t making the money. Should ease confusion

  • Cac

    So by my analogy, if Sony made a radio that only played your local CBC station, they should be sued by the CBC? It’s the same content with the same public distribution.

  • Michael

    I’m not exactly sure how the media stream for CBC works (if they provide direct links to the audio so you can play it in any player) but the “Listen Live” version on the CBC website loads into a flash player. If you notice in the flash player, there is a space for ads to run while you listen. This pays for the audio stream and if you by-pass that advertisement then you are basically using up CBCs bandwidth (and taking their content) without the CBC getting paid for it.

  • Ned

    Simple fix here.  This sounds like a player with the CBC streams specifically hard coded into it.  I would not buy it for that, when I can download and install a variety of stream players in the App Store for free.  This is a convenient way to get to the CBC streams without wading through the streams (although it takes me a second to find in in 00Tunes, becuase they have a Canadian category).  Anyhow, this developer should not charge for the app at all – at any time.  He could spare himself the embarrassment and put it up for free.  He’d get a name, and maybe establish a business where he is producing applications that can be charged a fee for.

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