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Hulu Again Removed From Boxee and Again Added Back 220

Posted by timothy
from the hope-you're-happy-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a mouse and cat game, Hulu the popular online content provider of shows, movies, and more has blocked Boxee yet again from accessing the Hulu content from the Boxee application. Just as Boxee added RSS feeds to include Hulu content, Hulu responded with blocking Boxee users from accessing the content via RSS feeds the very same day. RSS feeds are publicly available and it's really disappointing to hear that a site would block certain applications from accessing their content in such a manner. I would assume that the Boxee development team is currently working on disguising its browser to look like Firefox, Internet Explorer, or some other known browser in an attempt to fool Hulu."
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Hulu Again Removed From Boxee and Again Added Back

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 07, 2009 @07:47PM (#27108225)

    They're aliens.

    And that's how they roll.

    • by Toe, The (545098) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @10:12PM (#27109233)

      Conventional wisdom tells us that the best conspiracies are completely in the open. People never suspect because they figure a real conspiracy would try to hide itself.

      So if the owners of Hulu are in fact aliens, this is exactly the sort of ad campaign they would run.

      Hm. Guess we're screwed.

      (So let's just hope they're abundantly stupid like the aliens in Signs [wikipedia.org] and never take into account the fact that if water kills you on contact, maybe you shouldn't invade a planet covered in mostly water, inhabited by beings made of mostly water. HTF did that movie ever get past the script stage?)

      • by kiddygrinder (605598) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @10:58PM (#27109499)
        That movie would have been 1000% better if they'd tried to invade on a rainy day.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by slackbheep (1420367)
        The aliens who invaded probably just couldn't read the hazard warnings left in the fields by smarter aliens :P
      • if water kills you on contact, maybe you shouldn't invade a planet covered in mostly water

        They're religiously nudist.
        Obviously, a race capable of crossing the stars would have spacesuits and be able to make a fucking dry suit, or a god damned raincoat, but NO! They HAVE to walk around naked and exposed at all times, even if that means that their centuries-long plan will surely fail a day or two after they finally land the invasion party.

        You should see the footage of their first moon landing. All that gasping and exploding eyeballs... So tragic.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by shadwstalkr (111149)

        HTF did that movie ever get past the script stage?

        That was the real Shyamalan Twist(tm) of the movie. "I got Mel Gibson and Joaquin Pheonix to star in this steamer, and then I got you to pay me so you could watch it! Surprise!"

  • by Manip (656104) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @07:54PM (#27108273)

    Claiming that "Boxee" is like a browser's RSS feed is totally misleading. The software package cuts out the entire site, the adverts, etc and repackages it as almost its own material (with a small source icon).

    How would you feel if someone hot-linked your content, consumed your bandwidth, and gave you no advertising revenue in exchange?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 07, 2009 @07:57PM (#27108293)

      I'd feel like a damn idiot for momentarily forgetting how the Internet works and for trying to have a lawyer solve an engineer's problem.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mysidia (191772)

        It's not an engineer's problem entirely. No matter how they engineer it, someone can possibly scrape their streams, and serve them to the user utilizing the provider's bandwidth.

        So they can and shold get their lawyers involved to take action and stop the blatant copyright infringment (framing someone else's content in your own site is a case of infringement, except when you're authorized to do it [implicitly and otherwise], and you do it in the manner so authorized).

        There is a possible solution though

        • by wastedlife (1319259) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @08:42PM (#27108639) Homepage Journal

          There is a possible solution though: inject the ads into the video itself, so they can't be separated. Make the videos 'dynamic' flash videos, so the advertising can't really be removed without modifying a .SWF file.

          Hey, you just described exactly how it works. There is no copyright infringement going on here. Boxee is not a web site, it is a media center application. Hulu allows embedding of their videos. They have ads in the video stream. Boxee basically just embeds the video, ads and all, into the application so that it can be played on your computer screen or TV with a simple interface.

          If I recall correctly, Hulu originally provided code to help Boxee display Hulu content. So why the change of heart? I read some speculation somewhere that Hulu is actually being pressured by the content owners to stop Boxee because there is less advertising revenue from web streaming than there is for live TV. Since people use boxee to play videos on their TV and not a computer screen, the content owners feel they are losing out. What I don't think they understand is that you can watch Hulu's videos using your computer on your TV with or without Boxee.

          • by nova_ostrich (774466) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @09:27PM (#27108937) Homepage
            Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, admitted on the company's blog that the content owners demanded that Boxee stop displaying Hulu content [hulu.com].
            • by pyite (140350)

              Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, admitted on the company's blog that the content owners demanded that Boxee stop displaying Hulu content.

              Then I will have no remorse when traditional content producers die an albeit slow death. I'll continue to watch content I record with my DVR (and fast forward through commercials), I'll continue to download content via torrents (where there aren't any commercials), and I won't watch content with Hulu, where, ironically, I was willing to watch commercials.

              Die, die, die. Long live

            • by kent_eh (543303) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @10:46PM (#27109429)

              content owners demanded that Boxee stop displaying Hulu content

              *shrug*
              If they don't want me to watch their content, I have no problem obliging them.

              And since Hulu is only available in one country in the world (not the one where I live) I guess there's a lot of their precious content that I won't be watching. Doesn't bother me, I've managed to survive this long without it.

          • by kimvette (919543) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @11:08PM (#27109533) Homepage Journal

            It's still a retarded move though; hulu and similar services have been drawing people away from "pirated"[sic] content and back to revenue-generating content, and now that it is hitting critical mass the content owners are shooting themselves in the foot. The folks at Hulu seem caught in the middle. Who are the losers? Both consumers and Hulu.

            What content producers, software producers, and so forth are STILL failing to realize is that they are making the "pirated"[sic]/counterfeit product MORE valuable than the real thing because the "pirated"[sic] content is invariably not crippled by DRM.

            • by nametaken (610866)

              I wouldn't have thought this was true until I realized it happened for me. I started using PlayOn to watch Hulu content on the XBox and big ol' plasma tv.

              After a couple weeks I realized I hadn't had a compelling reason to download anything from my usual sources. In the meantime they got to advertise to me just like on TV. Fewer commercials so I mind them less.

              I wish they'd all stop pissing and moaning and just recognize that this model is a GREAT transitional one between TV and wherever we're headed.

              Char

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              What content producers, software producers, and so forth are STILL failing to realize is that they are making the "pirated"[sic]/counterfeit product MORE valuable than the real thing because the "pirated"[sic] content is invariably not crippled by DRM.

              I think they realize what they're doing, and I think they know the consequences. Right now they have content that generates different revenue in different forms. TV is the highest, the internet is lower, and pirated is zero. They were losing some viewers to piracy before, so they countered with Hulu. Now they're losing more viewers from TV to the other two. By limiting Hulu, some portion of the people affected will resort to piracy, but I think they're betting on some portion resorting to plain old TV.

              How t

              • by Cylix (55374)

                Nadda,

                You assume people running these entities have employees with vision and or understanding. My take on the world has been pretty much the opposite.

                I'm amazed at how companies keep afloat with all the morons running the show. Oh wait, they are collapsing...

                I know it sounds fairly negative, but just remember my view is colored by experience.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Vu1turEMaN (1270774)

              It is indeed a stupid move. I remember, back when I helped to run TV-Links, we sorta helped start all of this. I mean, it was one thing to download a dvdrip, but to stream it took balls...I think we had almost 1/4 million videos, and in Alexa hit above 15 and 25 for page rank in the US and UK, respectively (in the top 100 worldwide I believe too). However, the end justifies the means. We dreamt of a future with boxes like this and where media websites would give content away for free or with ads.

              Unless they

            • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @03:24AM (#27110529)

              I wouldn't be surprised if the cable/satellite companies and local broadcasters are pressuring the national networks, as they have the most to lose from Internet-streaming set top boxes.

              Local broadcasters don't have enormous profit margins. They're hurting right now, [wsj.com] and if ten percent of their market decide to stream Hulu to their TV, it could mean bankruptcy for many smaller providers. NBC and Fox have done the math; they don't want to lose the majority of their audience (who still watch whatever's on the tube) just to make a minority (who've learned about this whiz-bang Internet thingy) happy.

              Cable and satellite companies, of course, have tremendous influence over the networks as well, as they provide the majority of the audience these days. They also have a history of doing whatever it takes to prevent competition and sweeten their contracts with the networks. If NBC has to choose between Comcast and Hulu, they'll pick the one that has 25 million paying subscribers. Hint: It's not Hulu...

              Honestly, I don't think this is really about Boxee at all. I think it's just an attempt to set precedent. Lots of people are scared to death of a box that lets people watch whatever they want, whenever they want, with no monthly fee (beyond their broadband service). End distributors (local networks, cable companies) are afraid of the competition. Networks are afraid of losing their position as the gatekeepers of content, as the Internet makes it far easier for content creators (the individual production companies) to deal directly with the "distributors" (YouTube, etc).

              So the networks have to walk a very fine line here. On the one hand, they can't afford to anger (or bankrupt) their current distributors. On the other, they can't afford to lose their dominance, even as people start switching to Internet-based services.

              As a result, the networks seem to be taking a cautious approach: They work to popularize their own online services, like Hulu, in hopes of transferring their content oligopoly to the online world, but they avoid direct competition with their major distribution methods.

              I'd wager that if streaming ever reaches a "saturation point", where everybody is watching TV on their computer and the market seems ready to switch, the networks will release some ordained "magic box" which streams their content (and maintains their control over the content market), and happily give their old distributors the metaphoric finger.

              Or, if one large content owner makes a big push for streaming set top boxes, expect the rest to follow suit fairly quickly.

              Until one of those occurs, though, expect more of the status quo. To use an analogy that describes technology adoption by most large industries: Nobody wants to be the only one in the pool, but they definitely don't want to be the only one out of the pool. They may all decide to jump in together, but if one decides to jump in now, the rest will follow.

          • I read some speculation somewhere that Hulu is actually being pressured by the content owners to stop Boxee because there is less advertising revenue from web streaming than there is for live TV.

            There are three options as to why this is the case:

            1. Advertisers are overpaying for TV ads
            2. Advertisers are underpaying for streaming ads
            3. Internet eyeballs are actually worth less to advertisers than TV eyeballs

            Anyone care to speculate? Personally, I'd suspect that it's a lot of 1) and a little of 2), but I could

          • LOL that's hilariously ignorant. There has got to be a good quote for that.
        • by Lumpy (12016)

          you got it. Hulu WILL NOT WIN. They cant. The Boxee and XBMC hackers outnumber them 30 to 1 and they have far more talented programmers than Hulu could even hope to hire. Sorry, but it's the simple truth. They are making a lot of guys itch and they also like the challenge.

          I get a kick out of how the boxee plugin is getting all kinds of press, while the XBMC plugin has been disguising it's self as IE 7 for quite a while now in the Daily builds.

          Hulu, you might as well give up. The Boxee plugin will tu

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by saiha (665337)

            I never had heard about Boxee and this type of thing (I had used Hulu before however) until Hulu/content producers got all crazy.

            /goes to check out boxee

          • What difference can it make, open hulu with firefox then click full screen, works fine, connect your 42 in LCD TV to the computer no problems.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              What difference can it make, open hulu with firefox then click full screen, works fine, connect your 42 in LCD TV to the computer no problems.

              Besides missing the entire fucking point (this is a video appliance) you have also missed that many people want to operate their entertainment center with a remote control. Trying to find the mouse pointer on a 42" television takes too long, I just want to press a button.

        • by saxoholic (992773) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @01:51AM (#27110235)

          No matter how they engineer it, someone can possibly scrape their streams

          As long as they don't CROSS their streams. That would be bad.

      • by Goaway (82658)

        I'm pretty sure this article is about how they are having the engineers solve this "engineer's problem". Yes?

    • by Daimanta (1140543) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @08:02PM (#27108333) Journal

      "How would you feel if someone hot-linked your content, consumed your bandwidth, and gave you no advertising revenue in exchange?"

      Probably like a person with a very broken business model, but that's just me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Spazmania (174582)

        Probably like a person with a very broken business model, but that's just me.

        Then your solution is what? Hula should shut down completely instead of just excluding Boxee? How does that help anyone?

        If you park your car downtown with the windows rolled down and the keys in the ignition, you may be an idiot. But the guy who takes it is still a thief. And the quiet little towns where nobody will take it... those are treasures.

        • by antibryce (124264) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @10:24PM (#27109301)

          Boxee doesn't remove any ads. You see the exact same Hulu ads you would see if you went to their website.

          • by Dolohov (114209)

            ... except the paid banner ads and internal content ads (which may or may not be positioned according to payment like some search engines' results). If we don't acknowledge that those are there (and missing from Boxee), some marketing jerk is likely to say "they're not obtrusive enough, make them flash and change size!"

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 07, 2009 @10:25PM (#27109317)

          YOU CANT STEAL WHAT IS FREELY GIVEN TO YOU.

          Why cant you people get that through your heads??

          Boxee did nothing but showed the EXACT SAME CONTENT in a better UI. Commercials all were there.

          Just because some low IQ moron says something is not to his liking, it does not make it illegal or wrong. Whomever said that Boxee was stealing anything is a complete and utter moron that really needs to be killed so that he does not cause the rest of us to become dumber simply from his existence.

          This is the Crux. Hulu said , "no more boxee" because some really really REALLY stupid executive at some content provider that Hulu does nto have the balls to name said they did not like it.

          Only the incredibly low IQ people think that boxee was stealing anything. These same people think that Best buy employees are highly educated and know what they are talking about.

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            Amen Brother.

            Someone mod this Coward up!

          • This is the Crux. Hulu said , "no more boxee" because some really really REALLY stupid executive at some content provider that Hulu does nto have the balls to name said they did not like it.

            You do realize that without content providers, Hulu ceases to exist, right? Having the proverbial balls to stand up to them could only backfire, as the content provider will happily stop providing. This is the nature of the beast when someone is providing content that has perceived value. (If it did not have perceived value, people would not watch it.)

            Only the incredibly low IQ people think that boxee was stealing anything. These same people think that Best buy employees are highly educated and know what they are talking about.

            Insulting people is always a fine way to make your point, but frankly stealing (or not) is irrelevant to the discussion. Hulu has not accused anybody of s

          • I would not enjoy knowing every homework I ever finished was turned into the teacher under a glass frame engraved with someone else's name.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          If you park your car downtown with the windows rolled down and the keys in the ignition, you may be an idiot. But the guy who takes it is still a thief. And the quiet little towns where nobody will take it... those are treasures.

          The problem with your car analogy is that Hulu is explicitly making available their content. If there's no authentication, and they just cough up the data when you ask for it, then you're clearly not stealing - to stretch the analogy a bit more to try to actually make it fit the situation, it's more like the RSS is a flyer telling you where to get the car, and when you get there you're permitted to take it. Of course, this is a stupid analogy and you are a stupid person for trying to make it in the first pl

      • by saiha (665337)

        I would feel like I should work with those people to get a bigger slice of the pie.

      • Probably like a person with a very broken business model, but that's just me.

        Let's see you do better. The people that yap about broken business models generally aren't doing anything better, or anything at all. As far as I can tell, it's just hot air used to make excuses, I've never seen anyone that cite "broken business model" suggest a better alternative.

        As it is, there is not much for a sustainable business model for video producers on the internet. The people that are really good might be able to support one family, if they're lucky, maybe two families, but even people with m

        • Let's see you do better. The people that yap about broken business models generally aren't doing anything better, or anything at all. As far as I can tell, it's just hot air used to make excuses, I've never seen anyone that cite "broken business model" suggest a better alternative.

          Well, the alternative is to get the hell out of the business. Luckily, these things have a way of resolving themselves - if the content producers can't figure out how to make a profit distributing shows on the internet, then the

    • by physicsphairy (720718) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @08:13PM (#27108427) Homepage

      Seeing as hulu lets you embed their content [bustercollings.com] like youtube, it is strange if their objection is that in-site ads are being skipped. (And are we back to the AdBlock extension == theft argument?)

      Otherwise, I assume the ads embedded in the video are still be played.

      The only reasons I can imagine for Hulu to wat to block Boxee are (1) ignorance of their own profit model (2) planning to release their own hardware box, or else partner with someone else in order to get the same vertical monopoly going.

      • by nametaken (610866)

        Content owners are leaning on Hulu to block boxee clients. Simple as that.

      • Hulu doesn't want to block anything. It's the backers with the strings on the content who've gone stupid (though not really very suddenly, they just returned closer to their ground state of being complete morons).
    • by wastedlife (1319259) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @08:15PM (#27108451) Homepage Journal

      Boxee does not strip out the ads. It is still the same video stream, boxee just gives a remote-friendly interface to the media. It is no different than watching Hulu in full screen with your computer plugged into a TV. Hulu allows embedding into another website just like Youtube and other media sites, so how is embedding into the Boxee media player any different?

      Also, Hulu's ads are played in the video. How are they being deprived of advertising revenue?

      • Also, Hulu's ads are played in the video. How are they being deprived of advertising revenue?

        I don't think it's directly about the internet or software, but what it's replacing.

        If Boxee is being used at the TV to replace the cable box or directly watching broadcast TV, then they lose a lot of ad revenue because online video ads don't pay a tenth as much per viewer as it does on TV or cable.

        They're trying to straddle two worlds, the old broadcast model, which paid a lot better, but is weakening, and trying to transition to the internet model, the medium is strong but the money is very weak.

    • by MikeFM (12491)

      I'd realize that my content is online and therefore available to anyone and just say what the hell. If it created a problem for me then I'd realize I had a stupid business model or had some technical flaws and make changes.

      Ad supported content that keeps you from being comfortable in your access of that content is a bad model. Instead of fighting Boxee why not work on a solution such as streaming ads into the content?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by michrech (468134)

      You're acting as if the advertisements aren't being displayed -- to my knowledge, the advertisements that are presented (usually 4 to 5 times, from my own viewing of various shows) while watching the video still play.

  • Boxee? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gothic_Walrus (692125) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @08:06PM (#27108367) Journal

    I blame 4Chan. [encycloped...matica.com]

  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @08:06PM (#27108375)
    This will result in us just losing the RSS openness of Hulu. Currently, their shows can be embedded in other webpages. They'll probably end up having to remove this too.
  • If every iteration of this cat and mouse game gets on Slashdot, then almost every other story will be about it....
  • xbmcboxee (Score:2, Informative)

    by doronbc (1434117)
    You should see the larger image. Boxee is a fork of Xbmc, xbmc but stripped down. Xbmc can run python scripts, check other xbmc plugins which work, ninja video, ted talks, rev3. http://code.google.com/p/voinage-xbmc-plugins/downloads/list [google.com] I have a plugin for fancast which hosts a lot of the same content as hulu. I'm not sure they intentionally strip out the ads, id be more than willing to sit through them though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Oh wow, I didn't know about Fancast. It has a lot more of the shows that I usually just download, since hulu doesn't have them.. Why haven't I heard of it before?
  • Does anybody know just why Hulu & Boxee don't get along? I've read that come content providers asked Hulu to block Boxee, but I completely fail to see the logic behind the request.
    • Re:Hulu + Boxee (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 07, 2009 @08:51PM (#27108689)

      My understanding: Content providers gave Hulu a license to display their works on computers. However, they don't perceive Boxee as a computer; instead, they perceive it as a TV. They haven't given Hulu a license to display their works on TVs, so they're unhappy with Hulu being on Boxee. Of course, there's no difference between "display on a computer" and "display on a tv" anymore, but they don't want this to be true. It's dumb, but that's the media industry for you.

    • Does anybody know just why Hulu & Boxee don't get along? I've read that come content providers asked Hulu to block Boxee, but I completely fail to see the logic behind the request.

      "I don't care if it hurts, I wanna have control [...] 'cause I'm a creep."

  • Screw `em (Score:5, Informative)

    by Simulant (528590) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @09:30PM (#27108965) Journal

    This code, executed on a dd-wrt router, will give all your clients 30 seconds of nothing during commercials when watching Hulu videos. It will block most other browser ads also but what the hell... Works really well with Slashdot.

    Just add it to your startup section and enjoy a nearly ad-free internet.

    ----
    logger WAN UP Script Executing
    sleep 5
    test -s /tmp/dlhosts
    if [ $? == 1 ] ; then
    echo -e "#!/bin/sh\nwget -O - http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.txt [mvps.org] | grep 127.0.0.1 | tr -d '\015\032' | sed -e '2,\$s/127.0.0.1/0.0.0.0/g' -e 's/[[:space:]]*#.*$//' -e '2,\$s/0.0.0.0 localhost$/127.0.0.1 localhost/g' -e '2,\$s/0.0.0.0 pagead.*.googlesyndication.com//g' | grep 0.0 > /tmp/hosts\nlogger DOWNLOADED http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.txt [mvps.org]\nkillall -1 dnsmasq" > /tmp/dlhosts
    chmod 777 /tmp/dlhosts /tmp/dlhosts
    fi
    ln -s /tmp/hosts /etc/hosts
    echo "45 23 * * 5 root /tmp/dlhosts" >> /tmp/crontab
    -----

  • Two companies at war deploying tech solutions to battle each other is certainly a lot of fun to watch for web developers, engineers and geeks. It's like photoshop tennis but with real tech, not just words and art.

    We are the spectators of a mild legal cyberwar.

    Wake up, the future is here, science fiction concepts from 20 years ago are now reality.

    Am I the only one finding this pretty amazing?

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