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Q: Displaying Recorded TV Programs on a Website - Legal or Illegal? ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Displaying Recorded TV Programs on a Website - Legal or Illegal?
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: jaynick-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 10 Mar 2005 01:29 PST
Expires: 09 Apr 2005 02:29 PDT
Question ID: 491032
I am interested in displaying recorded tv programs on a future
website.  Is this legal or illegal?  Here are two important factors to

1. There will be no charge to view these tv programs; therefore, I
will not be making a profit off of showing these programs.
2. I will leave the tv programs unedited.  If the program is one hour
long as it airs, it will be one hour long on the website.  I will not
be removing any commercials or editing the programs in any way.

I would appreciate an answer with specific references to FCC or US Copyright laws.

Request for Question Clarification by siliconsamurai-ga on 10 Mar 2005 03:05 PST
Almost certainly illegal in the U.S. and Canada.

Why not just link to That would keep you legal.

Let me know if this sort of thing would be acceptable as an answer and
I will provide more information on copyright but the news won't be

Clarification of Question by jaynick-ga on 10 Mar 2005 03:19 PST
It would be great if you or another researcher could site a specific
law (or lack of a law) that would give me my answer.  I know that it
is legal to tape tv programming and to view it again.  I also know
that the FCC has said it is okay for subscribers of TivoToGo to send
recorded programs to other subscribers.  If it is okay in the TivoToGo
situation, why is not okay in my situation.  I haven't been able to
get anything specific to this case.
Subject: Re: Displaying Recorded TV Programs on a Website - Legal or Illegal?
Answered By: siliconsamurai-ga on 10 Mar 2005 07:20 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hi, thank you for submitting your question to Google Answers, here is
the information you are seeking.

The reason it is OK for TiVo and not for you is that TiVo is a
subscription service - you can only share TiVo recordings with other
subscribers and only a "limited" number of them.

The Copyright law you want cited is U.S.C. Title 17

Begin by reading Chapter 1

Google search term: usc copyright

The FCC ruling said you could send Tivo copies to your office, other
rooms in your own home, or to a ?few? friends BUT ONLY IF THEY ARE
ALSO SUBSCRIBERS. It specifically prohibited indiscriminate sharing.

Google search term: fcc rule on sharing tivo

Google search term: tivo

January 2003 quote from Powell, then chair of the FCC:

"My favorite product that I got for Christmas is TiVo," FCC chairman
Michael Powell said during a question and answer session at the
International Consumer Electronics Show. "TiVo is God's machine."

Thank you again for turning to Google Answers for your research needs.

Clarification of Answer by siliconsamurai-ga on 10 Mar 2005 11:09 PST
Hi Jaynick glad I could help.

I see this may be your first question here.

FYI, we normally provide links to the information requested rather
than post hundreds of pages of information.

For example, in this case you need to read the ENTIRE Chapter 1 and
hundreds of court decisions if you want to really understand just how
much trouble you are about to get into if you do what you propose.
Just the legal definition of certain terms can be rather vague.

Perhaps I misunderstood your comment and you understand that you can't
do what you want but if you have taken the single paragraph you have
quoted as meaning you DO HAVE permission to re run TV programs on your
web site I STRONGLY recommend that you contact a lawyer BEFORE you
attempt this.

If I misunderstood your comment and you DO understand this IS
copyright infringement, then don't bother reading further, but if you
attempt to post copyrighted TV programs on a Web feed you will likely
get hit with so many lawyers you will regret ever having seen a

You might be able to obtain permission to do this by contacting the
copyright holder, then it would be fine. Otherwise, at the very least,
you will need a big budget for legal help to fight this out in the

As for the section you quoted, are you a registered charity recognized
by the IRS or a news organization? If not, then proving no "direct or
indirect commercial advantage" would be extremely difficult. For
example, will you have visitors to your site? Will there EVER be any
advertising of any sort on the site or any site linked from your site?

And that's not the only problem.

Further, Section 111 refers only to:
"The complex and economically important problem of ?secondary
transmissions? is considered in section 111. For the most part, the
section is directed at the operation of cable television systems and
the terms and conditions of their liability for the retransmission of
copyrighted works. However, other forms of secondary transmissions are
also considered, including apartment house and hotel systems, wired
instructional systems, common carriers, nonprofit ?boosters? and
translators, and secondary transmissions of primary transmissions to
controlled groups."

Are you a common carrier? hotel? hospital? appartment house owner?

These are LIVE re-transmissions, not the rebroadcast of something
taped for later playback.

The next section beyond the one you quote is:

"(b)  Secondary Transmission of Primary Transmission to Controlled
Group.? Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (c), the
secondary transmission to the public of a performance or display of a
work embodied in a primary transmission is actionable as an act of
infringement under section 501, and is fully subject to the remedies
provided by sections 502 through 506 and 509, if the primary
transmission is not made for reception by the public at large but is
controlled and limited to reception by particular members of the
public: Provided, however, That such secondary transmission is not
actionable as an act of infringement if?
(1) the primary transmission is made by a broadcast station licensed
by the Federal Communications Commission; and
(2) the carriage of the signals comprising the secondary transmission
is required under the rules, regulations, or authorizations of the
Federal Communications Commission; and
(3) the signal of the primary transmitter is not altered or changed in
any way by the secondary transmitter."

The key word in that is "actionable."

You will note that the conditions in 1,2, and 3 are ALL required, you
have to meet all of them, not just one.

Are you an FCC licensee? 

house report no. 94?1476

"the section does not cover or permit a cable system, or indeed any
person, to tape or otherwise record a program off-the-air and later to
transmit the program from the tape or record to the public. The one
exception involves cable systems located outside the continental
United States, but not including cable systems in Puerto Rico, or,
with limited exceptions, Hawaii. These systems are permitted to record
and retransmit programs under the compulsory license, subject to the
restrictive conditions of subsection (e), because off-the-air signals
are generally not available in the offshore areas."

Are you operating a cable system outside the continental U.S.?

You might read this also:

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use
of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or
phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for
purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching
(including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or
research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether
the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the
factors to be considered shall include?
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use
is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to
the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of
the copyrighted work.

Best of luck, but before you decide to violate U.S. Copyright laws you
should read all of the applicable laws and rulings of the Patent and
Trademark Office which extends to thousands of pages including
jaynick-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Thank you for your time.  Although your explanation didn't provide me
with the answer, I did end up finding my own answer based one one of
your links.  Under the copyright law Title 17, Chapter 1, Section
111(a)(5) I found my answer:

"The secondary transmission of a performance or display of a work
embodied in a primary transmission is NOT an infringement of copyright
if the secondary transmission is not made by a cable system but is
made by a governmental body, or other nonprofit organization [that's
me!], without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage,
and without charge to the recipients of the secondary transmission
other than assessments necessary to defray the actual and reasonable
costs of maintaining and operating the secondary transmission

Subject: Re: Displaying Recorded TV Programs on a Website - Legal or Illegal?
From: steve231-ga on 10 Mar 2005 05:13 PST
US, European and probably just about anywhere else make it illegal to
reproduce or publically broadcast any copyrighted material without the
specific consent of the copyright holder. This site give pretty good
coverage of US law

So far as TivoToGo is concerned one presumes that as you are passing
copies to fellow subscribers it is not an issue as they, like you,
would have specific consent to hold copies of the material.

That is signifcantly different from publically rebroadcasting a TV Programme.
Subject: Re: Displaying Recorded TV Programs on a Website - Legal or Illegal?
From: mister2u-ga on 10 Mar 2005 07:53 PST
This site seems to do it
Subject: Re: Displaying Recorded TV Programs on a Website - Legal or Illegal?
From: siliconsamurai-ga on 10 Mar 2005 11:19 PST
This Duke University web page should make chilling reading for those
contemplating rebroadcast on the Web:

I have only quoted a small portion (fair use)

 14           In Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. v. iCraveTV,
iCraveTV captured broadcasted TV into digital form and made it
available as streaming video on a website.30 The court issued a
preliminary injunction, holding that the plaintiff would likely
succeed in showing that the defendant?s transmission of the
programming to the public through streaming technology on the Internet
violated the copyright owners? exclusive right of public
performance.31 The court also held that iCraveTV engaged in
contributory infringement by putting programming on the Internet, with
knowledge that third parties would further transmit the copyrighted
programs, thus materially contributing to further violation of the
right of public performance.32 The court also held that the owners of
the copyrights in the TV programs would suffer an irreparable harm
without the injunction: "they have lost the ability to offer
particular outlets exclusive rights in particular programs or series,
and they have suffered a loss of customer good will."33"
Subject: Re: Displaying Recorded TV Programs on a Website - Legal or Illegal?
From: siliconsamurai-ga on 10 Mar 2005 12:02 PST
Mister2, sorry, tvtalkin doesn't broadcast full-length TV shows, it
has a few very short video clips.

That is covered by something called "fair use" and is completely
different from what Jaynick is proposing to do.

Fair use is why researchers can post brief quoted remarks from other
web sites here but not entiredocuments.

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