How Legal Is It to Leak Parts of a TV Episode?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MICHAELSD, Sep 11, 2010.

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  1. MICHAELSD macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #1
    I'm not looking for any advice other than legal advice, so I hope this thread is within forum rules. For the sake of keeping it in forum rules, let's talk about how legal it is to leak something early rather than me posting why I'd ask. In this case, it would be a part of a highly-anticipated TV episode. The leaker has access to five unaired episodes, but has decided to only purchase the first 1/4 of an episode, for the sake of it being nothing more than an attention and publicity-grabbing preview that will still have viewers tune into the episode when it airs.

    The leaker doesn't technically own the episode, but is contemplating sharing just 15 minutes of a 55 minute episode. Considering how a lot of things get leaked in full without repercussions, this may not cause a headache for anyone. It would also bring publicity to the network, the show, and the leaker's website. Is there a specific amount the leaker can share (i.e. less than two minutes) that would be completely legal? What if the leaker put it in a documentary (now that copyrighted material is legally allowed in a documentary type of video)?

    A lot of fan-sites share full seasons of this show, which is not what the leaker intends to ever do (which is why he wouldn't share a whole episode, or all five episodes that will be airing over the next few weeks). They have been doing this for years and have never ran into any legal troubles. The leaker is just looking to share the first 15 minutes of one unaired episode until it airs (then it will be removed since its just meant as a preview) rather than 45 hours of content.

    If this is against forum rules, please delete this. Again, nobody is looking for assistance or anything that would involve the forum helping the content get leaked. I'm just curious as to how legal this could be.

    The episodes are not in my possession, I just thought this would make an interesting discussion.
     
  2. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #2
    I don't really think how much is leaked really makes a difference. I would think that any amount leaked would be grounds for prosecution.
     
  3. advres Guest

    advres

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    #3
    This is probably one of the stupidest questions I have ever read. "Hey guys, if I steal something from a store and they see me do it, do you think I would get in trouble?"

    Jesus, and the fact you are publicly stating your intention prior to the leak is just absurd. Answer... it isn't legal at all. You don't own the rights to it. They can and will go after your personal/business wealth and they will win. how much, I don't know but they will win.
     
  4. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #4
    It's just that this happens all of the time. Using a MR example, Gizmodo leaked the iPhone 4. Using a recent example, the new Linkin Park album was leaked in full a few days early. I would mean no harm to the network nor the show, and I doubt a preview containing 1/4 of one episode would do so. Since leaks aren't a rare occurrence at all (though somebody getting in trouble for them is rare), I was just wondering how legal it would be. I'm not leaning toward intending to leak it, but I'm wondering if it would be such a terrible move. Heck, my source would have to be affiliated with the network in some way, so I don't know if it would be considered their fault for selling the content to a site that really enjoys and is free promotion for the show.

    The leaker wouldn't some random pirate group, but a site that has a high respect for the show and the network (which is why the leaker wouldn't go further and leak the entire episode plus four others, nor would they put up other copyrighted content like many sites do).
     
  5. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #5
    Whether or not people get in caught or prosecuted for leaking things doesn't change the fact that it is neither legal nor the right thing to do.
     
  6. advres Guest

    advres

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    #6
    The fact you have your Dexter twitter in your signature, saying an upcoming Dexter website is imminent and you are announcing possible intentions in this thread, you may want to think twice. It's not really tough to figure out what show you are talking about. You really want to take on Showtime or the rather large production company? Good luck with that one.
     
  7. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #7
    The site is supposed to be a respected fan-site rather than the countless sites that post five articles a year and just make advertising money by streaming every episode of currently airing and previous seasons. I'd really like an exclusive obviously to gain publicity, and I was presented with a rare opportunity. I could be greedy and just gain a lot of advertising money by streaming the first five episodes right now, but I never would. I can't help but be curious and not immediately turn it down (and at least I wouldn't be taking away paying viewers in any way). I don't need a legal headache, so I probably won't end up leaking fifteen minutes of an episode. Showtime has leaked three or four episodes of the show themself (and the final episodes of season two were leaked unofficially without Showtime taking any action).
     
  8. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #8
    Which is what you could be facing of course.

    They own the copyright including the right to distribute the show.....and you don't. :p

    And assuming they've registered the material, you could face having to pay them statutory damages. And even if you think you could muster up a "fair use" defense, you could still be facing substantial legal bills to defend yourself.

    Assuming they decided to come after you of course. :D
     
  9. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #9
    I'm not interested in blowing through five weeks of episodes in a weekend two weeks before they even begin to air, so I wouldn't purchase all five episodes for myself. I've wasted more money on some worse purchases, so I would be open to paying a small amount to get a 15 minute preview for myself and a few friends. Let's say I created a contest where a few people would get a chance to view the fifteen minutes of footage (rather than have widespread publicity and a fraction of the season five trailer's over two million views), woukd that be bad? I would have to have them agree to a lot of terms and create a password-protected area to stream it (I would also put some small marks for each unique user who wins so I can know who records it if it is recorded). I could see Showtime shrugging off five people seeing a relatively short preview of the first episode. Heck, they've leaked entire session premieres more than a few times.
     
  10. macfan881 macrumors 68020

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    #10
    actaully what your doing is basicly what is on every VHS/DVD etc if you dont have written consent from the people who made it you can get busted
     
  11. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #11
    In fairness, the person who has these episodes has to be affiliated with Showtime in someway (since they're not available on any public sites), and is looking to pass them on for a quick buck. I guess I'll have to give up on the idea of hosting the file for everyone and making headlines and gaining traffic. A contest doesn't sound so bad that would give a few people the chance to view 15 minutes of a 55 minute episode as well. I'm considering that. Should I just contact Showtime, tell them I own a Dexter fan-site, and tell them I'm interested in doing a contest that would enable select people who agree to very certain terms to preview a short portion of the season five premiere? They might just say "go ahead" because of how limited the contest would be. Hmm.
     
  12. CHAOS STEP macrumors 6502

    CHAOS STEP

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    #12

    You could do that if you want a lawsuit.

    Read back your post and try and figure out why that would be a stupid idea.
     
  13. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #13
    I could explain to Showtime how somebody offered me fifteen minutes of the season five premiere, and I want to do a contest that would give a very small amount of people access to the footage. That really doesn't sound bad. We both get publicity, and people will still pay to view the first episode if they pay for Showtime. The fifteen minutes could be a treat to 5-10 people instead of to the world.
     
  14. CHAOS STEP macrumors 6502

    CHAOS STEP

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    #14
    Are you living in a dream land? Your rationale is way off.

    They will not be interested in whatever positive publicity you may or may not achieve. That is irrelevant.

    What they would be interested in is finding how the leak occurred, who has the files, trying to stop the release and suing everyone involved.

    No ifs, buts or anything else.
     
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #15
    So you want to purchase content from someone who has no authority to sell it to you (and is either violating an NDA or stole the footage) and then distribute said footage on the internet even though you have no legal right to do so? And you are asking if this is legal? Really?

    Best case, Showtime finds your site and sends you a cease and desist. Worst case, Showtime drags you into court. If you do want to go through with this I suggest you go to Russia or some other country that doesn't give a crap about copyright laws and setup shop there.

    The big question is, what do you have that is so valuable that Showtime would want to partner with you? I'm being serious. What can you do for Showtime that Showtime cannot do for themselves?


    Lethal

    EDIT: And for the love of god if you do talk to Showtime and pitch yourself as being able to successfully create a grassroots following for the show (assuming there isn't already a 'go to' Dexter site) don't tell them you are thinking about leaking episodes of the show.
     
  16. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #16
    Just to add a little more information: An auction appeared on eBay where a user claimed they had the first five episodes of season five. Then, after the auction was listed, Dexter's official Twitter RT'd a message from somebody from the media who had received the same episodes. That makes the eBay auction likely true, especially since it was listed before anybody claimed they got those episodes. I asked the seller, if I could pay for him to just rip 15 minutes and send them to me. I didn't go through with anything yet.

    So, Showtime sends the media five episodes (seriously, why five episodes, Showtime? What's the point?), and they really don't expect anybody to leak five weeks worth of episodes through a sale or otherwise? I'm pretty sure the eBay auction includes copies of the original disks, since I saw a picture of the preview disks and they have artwork on them and come in a nice case, while the eBay listing is just on plain disks. I'm not interested in leaking all five, which I could, but at the least I'd like to take the opportunity for a few people to view a small portion of one episode. I probably won't do this, but it's good to get legal advice.
     
  17. lewis82 macrumors 68000

    lewis82

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    #17
    Did you sign some kind of NDA? Or any other contract?

    If you didn't, there are, in my opinion of non-lawyer, no reasons for it to be illegal.

    EDIT: You posted while I was writing... If you buy it on ebay, it could be stolen material.
     
  18. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #18
    Yes, Showtime expects the relatively small number of people it sent discs to to obey the law and obey their NDA. How stupid of Showtime to assume that people will be law-abiding and ethical. :rolleyes:

    If the seller is auctioning off the actual discs from Showtime he could be selling stolen goods. Many times the screeners aren't given away but technically loaned and will say something like "property of XYZ, must be returned upon request."

    If you want legal advice talk to lawyer. If you want non-legal advice continue asking strangers on the internet. ;)

    The OP doesn't have the legal right to distribute the footage.


    Lethal
     
  19. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #19
    I'm pretty sure the person who is selling the episodes on eBay simply made copies of the official disks Showtime sent him. I don't know if the people who were sent the disks by Showtime agreed not to make copies. It's very tempting nonetheless.

    Interesting note: the seller expects to have the full season soon, so he's probably somebody inside Showtime who handles this sort of stuff and is looking to make extra cash.
     
  20. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #20
    None of the recipients were authorized to make copies and none were authorized to distribute the footage. People obviously do though. I'm surprised Showtime sent out clean copies though. Many companies place the name of the recipient as a watermark in the middle of the screen to help track down leaks.


    Lethal
     
  21. racer1441 macrumors 68000

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    #21
    A large company has no interest in a dinky little fan site. They will get plenty of publicity squishing every cent you have out of every bank account you have.
     
  22. renewed macrumors 68040

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    #22
    And they didn't have to go to court or anything over it. :rolleyes:
     
  23. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #23
    They can have fun doing that since I'm a student :p. If the season five trailer on YouTube is any indication, we'd be a big fan-site if we had unaired, anticipated footage. It's too bad I probably won't go through with this, there are a lot of entertainment sites that write articles about every Dexter promo released, which would bring us a lot of visitors.
     
  24. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    #24
    According to the seller, there's a sort of code in the letterbox portion of two episodes, but that can obviously be write out easily without removing any of the image. I don't get what the point of giving the press a little less than first half of the season accomplishes, unless they like to see their flagship show lose viewers from September until the end of October. I wouldn't leak or watch more than fifteen minutes myself, but this isn't good in the wrong hads, any anybody willing to pay can get them.

    EDIT: I've noticed through some research that studios usually don't bother taking care of leaks. Name a movie, a TV show, an album, and I'm sure at least half of those were leaked before their release date. And in most cases nothing happens to the leaker. Leaks are actually seen as good ways for media to grab headlines and publicity. Plus, if a person was going to pay for something, they still will, and if they weren't anyway, they still won't. Leaks can be seen as free publicity, and sometimes studios and networks try to get them to happen or leak things themself for the headlines and publicity.

    I was also considering just creating a transcript of the fifteen minutes and using photos Showtime released. I don't see much harm in that. Would that be okay legally? Nobody would view the footage except myself in that case.
     
  25. Heilage macrumors 68030

    Heilage

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    #25
    Don't leak Dexter. You'll be on his list.


    Also, we're all looking forward to the season premiere, so don't be an ass and do anything to jeopardize the season run. :)
     
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