The Comcast and NBC Universal merger hearing in Congress sparked a bit of controversy over the fair use of Hulu.
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. If you didn’t see the Congressional hearing on CSPAN yesterday, you missed out. Technically, that’d be CSPAN 3, where the Comcast/NBCU merger hearing was broadcast.
When asked about blocking Boxee users from accessing Hulu, NBC President Jeff Zucker had an interesting choice of words. “What Boxee was doing was illegally taking the content that was on Hulu without any business deal,” he stated.
Boxee’s contention is that they merely enable their users to view the content through the existing web service. “Boxee uses a web browser to access Hulu’s content – just like Firefox or Internet Explorer,” says Avner Ronen on Boxee’s official blog. “We don’t “take” the video. We don’t copy it. We don’t put ads on top of it. The video and the ads play like they do on other browsers or on Hulu Desktop. And it certainly is legal to do so.”
When asked about negotiating with Boxee, Zucker said that they would of course be willing to negotiate with the company. Though Ronen says that this has not been their experience in the past, they will take the offer at face value and contact Zucker.