Redlasso, the online service that allows bloggers to search, clip, and re-post network TV, got a cease-and-desist letter from Fox, NBC and CBS on Tuesday. COO Al McGowan’s response: We’ll rally the bloggers!
“We reached out to our blogger partners using the site and urged them to give their take on this,” McGowan says. “Some of them are pretty supportive; we hope they continue to use the site.”
So who’s coming to Al’s aid? Well, there’s Michael David Smith at AOL’s Fancast. “It’s an ingenious product,” Mr. Smith tells his readers, that has “transformed the blogosphere,” and “it would be a shame for Redlasso to disappear.” We have yet to hear from the folks at TechCrunch, who last we heard were a bit sour about not hearing about the C&D note themselves.
But enough about the groundswell of blog support. What’s Redlasso’s case? Well, says Al, they’re totally useful to the networks: They increase networks’ online distribution by allowing bloggers to easily re-post video. They’re open to business models that would allow the networks to insert advertising, giving both the distributor (bloggers) and the tech platform (Redlasso) a cut.
Further, if the networks don’t licence Redlasso, those bloggers will go ahead and keep using YouTube, and then no one gets paid, right?
Here’s the problem: Redlasso hasn’t convinced anyone at the networks they need to be in business with them, and Al says they’ve been trying for two years. Further, none of these arguments help Redlasso in court.
Charles Sims, a partner at Proskauer Rose who represented the Hollywood studios and the MPAA, told us he thinks the network’s case, should they choose to bring it, is iron-clad:
What Redlasso is doing is clearly infringing. Copyright law makes it unlawful to copy big sections of other people’s work. It is particularly improper to do it and try to make money off of it which is what Redlasso is doing. If the various programs on network TV have financial value, it is the producers who have the right to exploit those and mine the economic value not interlopers like Redlasso.
If the networks thought Redlasso was helping they would not be going after them. The only interesting question is why anybody thought they could get away with this. I think [Redlasso] will go the way of Napster and be evicted out of that business model.
It’s too bad, because we do agree with our bloggy brethren on this one: It’s a cool service!
Redlasso hasn’t responded formally to the letter, but plans to do so before the May 29 deadline. In the meantime, McGowan says, “we respect their position. We have our position. Obviously, we disagree with their conclusions and we will continue to have conversations.”