Frequently Asked Questions On Willow TV Legal Notices
by Devanshu Mehta
Willow TV has released their own official FAQ. Please read that first. The below information may be out of date. This FAQ will be updated as new details emerge. Here is the original article on this story, with many comments from those affected. Please suggest additional questions (for me or to pose to Willow staff) in the comments or on Twitter.
- What is going on?
Willow TV, the popular cricket streaming service in the United States, has sent legal notices to many cricket fans for (allegedly) subscribing to pirated streams during the Cricket World Cup in 2011. (full legal notice).
- What are the terms?
The person is given a choice of either facing legal consequences or subscribing to Willow TV for $14.99 per month or paying $200/pirated-match.
- Is this legitimate?
Yes, it is. I’ve had a brief conversation with the Willow CEO on Twitter, instigated by David Mutton (full conversation). Mr. Srinivasan also spoke with GigaOm.
- How many people are affected?
I don’t know. But if I had to guess, based on the search traffic this blog has received since 10th January, it is in the thousands.
- What is the legal history of similar cases on the Internet?
Again, I’m not a lawyer. But this is similar to what the RIAA pulled off against people who (allegedly) downloaded pirated music. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a comprehensive history of how that played out. The settlement proposed here by Willow is significantly cheaper than the RIAA shenanigans. If you have questions about this sort of thing, EFF may be a good place to start. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) faced a similar problem to Willow TV, and sued streaming service providers.
- How is this different from past law suits?
Many things. This case involves streaming and not downloading. This case is directly against the user, the fan, the one viewing a pirated video, not the one broadcasting or distributing it. Finally, Willow TV’s offer of amnesty is novel.
- What is Willow TV’s plan for those who don’t pay?
No idea. But here is what Willow TV CEO said to me on Twitter: when we move to the next phase, willful and egregious violators will see legal action.This suggests that they may choose to make an example of a couple of violators, on whom they have the most concrete proof, by pursuing a full scale law suit.
- How did Willow TV get email addresses/IP addresses of alleged violators?
Willow TV filed a law suit against dozens of web sites allegedly responsible for pirated cricket streaming in 2011. As a result of that lawsuit, they were able to subpoena records from many service providers which may have given them IP addresses, email addresses and other subscriber information.
- What are the alleged violators responses?
They run the full gamut. I’ve heard from people who are disappointed but will pay up. I’ve heard from people who are angry and refuse to pay. I’ve heard from people who are just confused. Here is a sampling of comments I’ve received.
- Can you (Devanshu/DeepBackwardPoint.com) help the alleged violators?
Many people have been asking me to act as an intermediary between them and Willow, or help in other ways. So far, I’ve been reporting on this as a news story, providing a single resource for all currently known information and a forum for affected parties to communicate. I have also gotten in touch with the Willow TV CEO over Twitter, and asked him or his lawyer to look at feedback in the comments. Beyond this, there is little I can do, especially since this is a legal matter in which I am neither a lawyer, nor an affected party.
Unanswered questions from reader feedback for Willow TV or a lawyer:
Willow TV has released their own official FAQ. Please read that first. The below information may be out of date.
- The email cites US law. What about Canadian law? The cited copyright laws do not apply in Canada and many of the affected people are in Canada.
- If a violator pays up, is this an admission of guilt?
- Can a violator pre-pay the annual subscriber fee to get quick amnesty?
- Can alleged violators find out the specifics of the violation: time, pirated service, IP address?
- Isn’t this punitive action against actual cricket fans? Many claim that the reason people paid for pirated services instead of using the free ones is that they thought they were paying for something legitimate.
- If an alleged violator subscribed to a stream but the pirated stream did not work, was there an actual violation?