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This is unbelievable. I contacted WNYC (the NYC public radio station) this morning because the program I've used for years to listen to their streams (Flip4Mac) stopped working. They asked me to call them with the details, and when I did, the nice man I spoke to said he'd talk to their digital team and get the situation fixed.

Well, I just got an email in response. Apparently it wasn't a bug—they intentionally disabled support for that plug-in, because it's "pirating". (Their word.) You see, this program lets me pause the stream and then restart it again from where I left off, rewind, fast-forward, etc.—you know, like a TiVo. That, apparently, is piracy.

(Piracy. Of public radio. Supported by pledge dollars. Which I dutifully pledged every year! The irony here is making my hair hurt.)

They're apparently unaware of the 1984 Sony v. Universal decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that time-shifting is fair use and definitely not piracy.

The funny thing is, I upped my yearly contribution to them substantially last year, so I contacted their fancy high-contributor "producer circle" office with my problem, expecting it was a misconfiguration that would be dealt with quickly. Instead, I got an email telling me that I was a pirate. They helpfully suggested that, in the future, if I get interrupted while listening to the live stream via one of their blessed non-piratey methods, instead of pausing, I might come back hours later once they've posted audio archives and search out what I'd missed.

How about this instead: I listen to one of the other stations on the Internet that don't think I'm a pirate? I'm sure one of them will be happy to take my money.

+Jeff Jarvis: One for your "ways old media is screwing themselves" file.
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Michael Oliver M.'s profile photoVlad Taushanov's profile photozed z's profile photoLiz Fong-Jones's profile photo
24 comments
 
Are there shows specific to their station that you prefer? Vetween the KCRW app and the NPR app I don't miss much.
 
I just listen to the On the Media podcast. That's by far the most valuable property from WNYC.
 
Odd, it seems that because flip4mac is caching the stream it's only logical that you can rewind and play what's in the cache (perhaps limited)... I assume that'd also be the case on windows with windows media player. Perhaps there is some windows media server setting that communicates to the client not to allow rewind? Perhaps there's another alternative for the mac? VLC?
 
When they go bankrupt, they will be able to put the fault on the pirates. That's the idea behind all of this. Next year send them an eyepatch instead of pledging dollars +Trey Harris!
 
That is awesome, I heart pirates, though this doesn't sound like piracy to me. Pirates like you and I make the internet wheel of time turn. +Trey Harris good for you.
 
WNYC used to be my mainstay. In the last year, they have become a bitter disappointment.
 
Honestly, they don't understand their own business model. 
 
This may not necessarily be their fault - if they use content licensed by someone else, their ability to offer streaming of it may be conditioned upon their imposing tyrannical and technically doomed mechanisms to prevent time-shifting.
 
+Liz Fong-Jones Yeah, but it would take me all of 10 minutes to write a program to buffer any of their streams. They stream MP3's! It could probably be done in less than 500 characters of Perl. It's just so mindbogglingly silly.
 
+Trey Harris Yes, but it's sufficient to deter an average person, and they only need to break the most common pushbutton programs published.
 
un freaking believable (i believe it)
zed z
 
I'm genuinely surprised to hear that from WNYC - that's what you'd
expect from some lesser or "rural station" - or FOX... ;))
 
And N.P.R. can't understand why it has money problems. While neo-cons want to abolish it, it screws it's listeners.
 
This sort of thing is par for the course, really in public radio. Sirius XM's NPR feed is All Things Considered and Morning Edition free because the local NPR stations complained (even though Sirius was apparently willing to offer a subscription revenue share with the local stations based on billing zip code... Sirius would have been offering the ability to get ATC/ME on long drives without changing stations or having to hear pledge drives).
 
Hold up! How can public radio be pirated? It's paid for by your tax dollars, isn't it? It's like if someone offered you a free lunch and then had you arrested for stealing food.
zed z
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+Vlad Taushanov
Actually, it's pretty much paid for by your donation dollars: TheFed kicks in some bucks, but the principal support for NPR comes from the fees they charge your local NPR station which hopefully you (ThePeople) donate to support.
That being said, yes, it's basically the USERS/Listeners that are paying already for the content, so how CAN you actually be pirating it? Sigh...

And if you're NOT supporting your local NPR & PBS stations, you should be :D
 
+ThatRobertGuy Zardoz sorry, I had no idea... I'm not quite sure how things work on that side of the Atlantic.
I have Winamp and I've got my CD/mp3 player in the car - who needs radio? :)
 
+Vlad Taushanov The BBC expends a good deal of effort into anti-piracy measures. (And anti-"piracy" measures.) So I don't think the input or not of tax dollars matters much on either side of the Atlantic.
 
+Cheryl Ann Fillekes For the record, Cheryl, I just tried it and WBAI blocks their stream, too. I'd say about 80% of public radio stations in the U.S. do. But my station was one of the other 20%, until this week.
 
(To follow-up: I said "about 80%" based completely on a gut-feeling of what I've found when surfing publicradiofan.com looking for a station that works with the program. Like TiVo, once you get used to being able to pause and resume, having it taken away is excruciating, so I'll click around until I find a station that works.)
 
+Cheryl Ann Fillekes That's the same solution WNYC offered me. It's like saying, "no, we don't allow TiVos, but can't you use video-on-demand?"
zed z
 
+Vlad Taushanov +Trey Harris
In point-of-fact, the BeeB is quite aggressive re: "rights management" even to the point of, for example, not just blocking streaming video content outside the UK, but even show site content: Torchwood's site was blocked from outside the UK for series 2 onwards - even when series one was universally accessible. This they claimed, was due to, as they replied, "rights management issues"... WTF?! Character info and plot lines are "rights management"? Talk about not understanding global markets for the content they are selling to places like the USA via either SciFi, oops, SyFy, or BBC-America... Sheesh!
 
Cheryl, if you say N.P.R. is geared towards the G.O.P.why are they the ones who want to abolish it? The G.O.P. claims that N.P.R. is an evil, subversive, liberal, Anti-american organization out to destroy the U.S.A.
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