A heads-up for Network Awesome

Just a little heads-up for Network Awesome, which is a slightly awesome web site that’s a bit like a TV station. It doesn’t actually make programmes, but instead has a daily playlist of old TV and movies that they think is worth watching. They’re currently airing an episode of The Prisoner a week and were showing the BBC’s 1984 last night, so give them a try.




  • SK

    ‘Because Network Awesome is an online platform, we collect all our programming from fully public sources.’
    Um… is The Prisoner really in the public domain? Really?
    You’re absolutely sure they are legit, and not just very naughty copyright-violating boys (and girls)?

  • MediumRob

    By in the public domain, I assume they mean ‘someone has uploaded to YouTube’. They’re naughty if they’re doing it themselves, not so naughty if they’re just adding what they find to their playlist.

  • SK

    Oh, there’s a moral teaser, isn’t it? How naughty is it to knowingly and deliberately profit by somebody else’s naughtiness?
    I’m going to go with ‘very nearly as naughty as the actual uploader was, and definitely way naughtier than they ought to be.’
    After all, if they want to make a quasi-TV channel, you might expect that the reasonable way to start would be to do the hard work of actually making some programmes, rather than using some somebody else has already pushed off the back of a lorry…

  • MediumRob

    Wouldn’t they, you know, have to be making money for them to to be profiting? I’m not seeing any ads on the site, in the videos, etc…

  • Thanks a ton Rob for the nod! We appreciate it!
    As for the issue of original programming, we are actively creating our own new shows based around history and music and we already curate new collections of clips in unique bunches which we feel is sort of “new”. So stay tuned in this regard.
    Rob makes a good point – who’s making money? haha! While we fully intend to make money at some point we are very much currently involved in Network Awesome for the love of it. Our programming matches our diverse interests and we’re fully committed to bringing people super-interesting stuff from all eras of TV history. (Today we feature a film series by Czech animator Karel Zeman for instance)
    As for “pushed off the back of a lorry” – aka using media from public sources, No, we don’t upload any of the content ourselves and no we don’t stream any of it ourselves. Network Awesome plays by all the API rules made by Youtube, so we’re not being sneaky in that way either.
    The content on our site is largely allowed to be on Youtube by the creators of said shows, interviews and movies. As you know it’s an unusual and multifaceted marketplace right now with many media rights holders allowing their media out in the open in hope that it will find a new audience as well as sell DVD’s from Amazon, etc. With the staggering amount of video content on Youtube these days the really interesting stuff seems to get pushed further and further out of view. All we’re doing at Network Awesome is collecting all the good bits and presenting them in a digestible and fun package.
    Besides, isn’t it a good thing that younger viewers and people from other countries get to learn about amazing shows like The Prisoner?

  • SK

    Money has nothing to do with it. You can profit in ways other than the purely financial, you know. You can profit, for example, by getting attention off the back of the work of others.
    On the other hand perhaps ‘profit’ was the wrong word: copyright infringement is both against the law and morally wrong even if not done for profit, so really, profit is irrelevant.
    Addressing Jason Forrest, I think it’s great if younger viewers and people from other countries get to learn about amazing shows (I guess The Prisoner counts as ‘amazing’, though ‘deeply flawed’ is also an adjectival phrase that readily attaches itself). But it would be even greater if, having learnt about them, they bought them, rather than being able to watch them for free.
    But really, I think it’s incumbent upon you to check out and ask permission for the use of anything you do use that was made by other people: simply assuming permission is not enough. When I, at the last minute — actually after I’d delivered the story to the editor — discovered that a poem I’d quoted thinking it was out of copyright was actually still in copyright, I sought out the owners of the copyright and asked permission (and as they were charging more than I could justify, re-wrote the story to take out the poem).
    I would expect anyone else to do the same: before they use (and ‘use’ here includes ‘using as apparent (eg embedded) content for a website’) any content, to contact the owners of that content and ensure that they positively allow the use (the ‘negative checking’ of ‘put it up and see if they object and if they don’t it’s probably fine’ is, I’m sure you’ll agree, just not good enough).
    If you can reassure me you do do that, that you have (for example) contacted the owners of ITC’s content and have their permission to link to copies of it which they have given their permission to be uploaded, then I apologise. (Citing You Tube’s API rules is irrelevant, as I’m sure it’s possible to stick by the API rules while using them to access content that the owners of would not, if asked, give permission to be used in this way).
    If not, I think you’ll find that, as well as me thinking you morally despicable (which you probably don’t care about), the law is dead set against you and I advise you to stop before you find that out the hard way.

  • SK

    If, on the other hand, you were to write articles, or make videos, saying how amazing you think The Prisoner is, and link to places where the readers or viewers can buy legitimate copies, that would still serve your purpose of helping younger viewers and those from other countries to learn about The Prisoner et al, while remaining without the law and the right side of morality, wouldn’t it?
    So why not do that, rather than pursue the morally and legally dubious course?

  • SK

    Within the law. Not without.

  • 1. We currently link to relevant Amazon.com pages whenever possible, so we DO try to make it easy for people to purchase the DVD’s of the programming.
    2. I can’t imagine how anyone would have the time to individually contact every media right holder before linking to said legal content.
    3. I’m unsure why our site would be held to any different standard than any other site that links to Youtube videos. Do you hold Rob accountable to contact the rights holders for linking to “The Highwayman”?
    4. We actually are starting a magazine to help our viewers understand more about the programming. It will launch this week.
    5. We appreciate the vigor of your comments.

  • SK

    If the content is definitely legal — if there’s a statement saying it’s legal, or it’s definitely been uploaded by someone authorised — for example, it’s a BBC programme on http://www.youtube.com/bbc — then there’s no problem, is there?
    But if it’s not that clear, ‘We don’t have time’ is hardly an excuse. If you don’t have time to contact the holder of the rights, don’t embed their content. If you don’t have time to contact the owner of every bit of content you want to embed, just embed less stuff. Simple as.
    Do you think a newspaper should get away with saying ‘we don’t have time to find out who wrote every piece we print’?
    However, I somehow doubt that the You Tube user ‘EMSR’ has permission to upload episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Are you sure that that user does have such permission? What are your reasonable grounds for believing so? I assume you didn’t just find it and embed it without even stopping to consider whether it was legally on You Tube or not, did you?
    (As I understand it, some infringing content is allowed by its owners to remain on You Tube in return for a share of the advertising revenue it brings in; but some simply may not have been noticed yet by the owners, or the owners may be too busy to spend all their time looking for their content on You Tube, and I don’t know how to tell the difference. Do you? Is there an easy way to check whether a particular bit of content on You Tube is there with the permission of its owners, or has simply been overlooked? Because that would be really really helpful, so if you do, please let me know. I suspect though that it wouldn’t be in Google’s interests to provide such a service as it would draw attention to the amount of content that is there not by permission.)
    Linking to Amazon is nice, but why link to Amazon and provide a way to view copies which, you admit, you don’t check are legal? Why not just write about the programmes and link to Amazon?
    Are you scared people won’t come to your site if you don’t give them a way to watch infringing videos? But surely if your articles are good enough people will come to read them. There are many review/analysis sites I read that don’t embed video, and I read them for the quality of the original work the authors of those sites do. Can you not be like them?
    If not — if the only way you think you can get people’s attention is by piggy-backing on the work of others — well, that doesn’t say very much for the confidence you have in your own work, does it?
    To be honest I would rather this site not embed or link to unauthorised material on You Tube. I don’t make a big thing of it because there’s a lot of other, original content on here, it’s clearly not the primary purpose of the site, but when it happens it leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I wish Rob would stop doing it. I would certainly be just as interested in the ‘Lost Gems’ and other articles even if they didn’t include the video links (of course, some of the videos Rob links to, like trailers on the programmes’ or channels’ own You Tube sites, are perfectly legal) (I also rather hope and trust that Rob obtains the episodes of US TV programmes that he reviews through legal means; if not I may have to regretfully stop reading as that’s a major part of the site and I can’t condone that.)
    The difference is that the ‘Network Awesome’ site seems to be entirely operating as a clearance house for other people’s work, without any original content of its own. Its sole purpose seems to be to facilitate the finding of copyright-infringing material. There was another company that made that its business — it was called Napster.
    It’s a topic on which I have strong feelings. I like television. I have great respect for those who make it. I do not like to see that work being treated as if it is in the public domain, or as if it is in some way communal property.