Yes, the adverb says it all. And we have written on this topic before. Copyright holders tried to sue Roja in Spain, but lost because of “safe harbor” provisions in national law. US law has these as well. Basically, Roja does not control the content of its own site or reproduce the streams, therefore they are a conduit, not a content-stealing-creator.
Legalese? Kinda. But the implications for streaming websites would be terrible if they had to edit every aspect of user generated and submitted content. While they could merely react to complaints, the question arises: how can they test the authenticity of those complaints? Julien Asssange did not cringe at Swedish arrest warrants for sex crimes, but he flipped his shit when the US government asked him to sort through his wires to edit out sensitive content. Data management is costly, tedious, and boring.
So yes, my biases are on the table – like Roman Abramovitch, I like to sail my virtual yacht in safe harbors. But what makes me laugh is this….
The impotence of national authorities. DHS seized the US domain name, thereby disrupting Roja for a total of five minutes while they had to purchase a Spanish domain name. Total cost to Roja? Probably $10.99. Why didn’t DHS respect the Spanish court decision? Perchance…industry group lobbyists with friendly prosecutors that dream of future campaign contributions. (That is speculation. Do not cite me as a fact source.)
In all seriousness and misguided motives aside, Wikileaks showed the limits of this “whack-a-mole” approach – it also shows how ideas have trumped the material world. DHS has a domain worth $10.99, while the idea of Roja has found a new home. National governments have not come to grips with the lack of strength of their grip. They might as well handcuff us with wet noodles.
Another important aspect is the internet’s dissolution of the line between pictures, music, and video. These mediums have all merged into an easily copied, altered, edited, spliced, and improved form of art. Audacity, Windows Moviemaker, and Vimeo have proliferated to touch the lives of semi-creative people across all continents. Copyright law must change to accept this reality. “Fair use” today, is not” fair use” in the 20th century. The law has not accepted this yet, and the aging dinosaur industries dependent upon pay-per-view have not and never will accept it.
In sum, the business models based on 1) Medium monopolies and 2) Pay-per-algo will use their remaining weight to strangle innovators. I thus feel profound sadness for my friends at Roja.I shot them an email. But Roja will win. They fight the good fight. Even if their site disappears, the concept shall live on; the change is in the air. Broadcasters will and must soon rely on revenue by association with non-obnoxious advertisers. This will initially cut profits, but the credible broadcasters will thrive. Those that currently squeeze blood from stones will perish.
In terms of European soccer, the TV rights corporate juggernaut has a grip on our collective conscious, but in many countries a belief exists in a public right to view matters of public affairs. Sport fits into this category. Decades ago, sports made a truce with the devil: get your ads, make some money, but show us to the world. Now that we no longer need the devil, why keep the horned-fella around? The devil fights tooth and nail because he cannot justify his existence.
Of course, DHS could up the ante and issue arrest warrants for the individuals who ran Roja Directa. Good luck convincing the Spanish authorities…