ABC Australia refusing to answer our #OurABCToo questions…but we can now report a key new development.

Aview_GooglePlay

In further news on the saga of #OurABCToo – WPDU can now confirm an interesting new development, with the ABC making about the only play they could in response to our recent coverage of their handling of unofficial iView Apps for Android and Windows Phone platforms. As readers will know, on the same day an unofficial #WP8AU 3rd Party App made it’s way into the Windows Phone store, the ABC initiated action to ensure this App was removed from the MS store within hours of being made aware of it.

Now, WPDU can confirm that an official take-down request was initiated on July 21 to Google, over the unofficial 3rd Party Australian App “aview”. Unlike the same day reaction by Microsoft in withdrawing the iviewftw WP App – as at time of writing we can confirm that aview is still available in the AU Google Play store, almost a month after the ABC filed their (C) infringement action.

Based on freely accessible public domain information on Google Play (c) removal requests, WPDU was able to obtain a redacted (privacy elements only) copy of the ABC’s request, and have copied it for our readers:

 

July 21, 2014

 

Sender Information:
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Sent by: [Private]
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
AU

Recipient Information:
[Private]
Google, Inc.
Mountain View, CA, 94043, USA

 

Sent via: online form
Re: Websearch Infringement Notification via Online Form Complaint

Google DMCA Form: Infringement Notification for Web Search

Contact Information
Name: [redacted]
Company Name: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Copyright holder: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Country/Region: AU

YOUR COPYRIGHTED WORK

Copyright claim #0:
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is reporting a software application known as Aview, currently being distributed via the Google Play Store https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.github.aview.app,
which allows users to stream television programs from the ABC’s on-demand streaming TV service known as ABC iview, by circumventing the ABC’s content protection measures.

The developer of Aview is not associated with the ABC or any other rights holder, and has not been authorised to develop or distribute the Aview application using the ABC’s content. The ABC considers it important to protect its intellectual property rights and the valuable reputation of its brands associated to the services it provides to the public.

The ABC iview Terms of Use available on the ABC iview website state:
1. All intellectual property rights in the program content made available via iview are reserved to the ABC and its licensors. It is a breach of the Terms of Use to reproduce such ABC content, and to display such ABC content by means other than in ABC iview, without obtaining the ABC’s permission.
2. It is a breach of the Terms of Use to adjust or circumvent, or try to adjust or circumvent, digital rights management security and technical protection measures used by ABC iview to protect ABC iview content from unauthorised access.

Aview appears to utilise technical means to circumvent digital rights management security and technical protection measures used by ABC iview to protect ABC iview content from unauthorised access in breach of the Terms of Use.
Consequently, it is in breach of section 116AP of the Copyright Act 1968 by knowingly offering to the public a circumvention service for technological protection measures implemented in respect of ABC iview content.

The developer of this application has either decompiled the code of an official iview mobile in order to find the key to decrypt iview’s HLS streams and then provide access to the HLS streams without the ABC’s permission, or intercepted feeds between the ABC’s servers and authorised devices using progressive downloaded in order to indentify iview’s URL structure for progressive download streams, and then provide access to the progressive download streams without the ABC’s permission.
Original work URL(s):
http://iview.abc.net.au/

Allegedly infringing URLs:
0.   https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.github.aview.app&hl=en

SWORN STATEMENTS

I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
[checked]

The information in this notification is accurate, and I swear, under penalty of perjury, that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
[checked]

SIGNATURE
Signed on this date of:
07/21/2014

On July 10th, WPDU sent the following questions to the recently appointed ABC Head of TV Strategy and Digital Products – Rebecca Heap.

1) Did the ABC formally request or initiate a request to Microsoft that the App be removed/taken down from both the Windows Phone &/or Windows Stores?
2) If so - how (and under what public T&C) did the ABC base this request?
3) If so, was it a prompt (it was the same day the community became aware the App was out) and proactive action by the ABC to protect their content providers copyright?
4) Did the iviewftw Windows Phone App (which was stream only per the official App) breach any public or private ABC guidelines, and can the ABC share those breach specifics with me?
5) Is there an onus on the ABC through their content agreements and services like iView to proactively and effectively protect copyright – and how is this related to unofficial/official Apps as per the example yesterday of iviewftw

These specific questions were not answered.

On the 18th of July we sent this email in response to Rebecca’s initial reply:

“Thank you for the effort to get back to me at such a late time tonight.

I am however disappointed with your lack of specific response to the questions I raised last Sunday after your initial reply to WPDownUnder. If I am take your email this evening as the final word on the ABC’s reply to these questions – then all Australian Windows Phone users, tax payers and ABC viewers are left with an ABC which is refusing to answer specific questions of conduct, possible bias, competency and/or discrimination. It also gives the appearance of an ABC which, since the instigation of my initial FOI request in 2013, has taken every opportunity to avoid scrutiny and provide little substance to questions asked of it.

You mention below “reasonable action“. For Windows Phone this means the <possibly legally?> instigated take-down request on the App marketplace within hours of the App’s existence being made aware to the Windows Phone community in Australia. For another platform – one which the ABC has subsequently invested in developing the iView App for – there remains no apparent action, 12 months on from the unofficial App’s initial launch in the Android Google Play Store (5 months before the ABC’s own app launched).

How is this reasonable? One might make a case that the ABC left this App alone in the store to gauge interest in the Android platform before investing in their own Android App development. How does the ABC explain this inconsistent handling of both platforms?

Can the ABC confirm unequivocally that no current or past member of the ABC was involved in the development, publishing and/or ongoing presence (i.e. apparent tacit ongoing approval of the aview unofficial 3rd party iView App by the ABC) in the Android marketplace?

Regardless of Platform” you say. By this, am I to take it that your content deals are not done on a platform-by-platform basis. If this is the case, and it is purely a matter of 3rd party Apps versus Approved Apps under your content licensing deals – how do you explain the ABC’s dereliction of it’s duty and “obligations” to content owners in the example of aview since July 2013? To make matters worse – how has the ABC allowed the public sharing on the Github service of the aview app’s code base including API information which allows ANY Android developer, and even other platform developers to replicate the App structure for their own unofficial iView App shared outside the stores for ‘side-loading’ to devices?

Where is the evidence of any investigation of aview by the ABC, any public record take-down request of the App instigated by the ABC on the Google Play store - or any current (the aview app is still available for download) change to the aview apps availability following any action taken by the ABC over the removal of iviewftw! from the Windows Phone Store?

I would ask you to re-consider the ABC’s position in answering this growing lists of questions over the ABC’s handling of this matter. If the Windows Phone community and I cannot get satisfactory answers which explain the ABC’s different treatment of Windows Phone unofficial 3rd party Apps as opposed to Android unofficial 3rd party Apps, and answers which can put to rest any allegations of bias, discrimination or incompetence – then I will have no further recourse than to bring this to the attention of the Minister for Communications and as a formal complaint to the Australian Information Commissioner….

On the 21st July (the next working day) they filed the Google Play (c) infringement request.

On the 24th July we asked the ABC these questions – shifting the focus to the Android App aview.

1. When did the ABC first become aware of “aview”, the unofficial iView Android App, launched in the Google Play store months before an official ABC player was out?
2. When did the ABC first become aware of the code for this App (and ABC API for iview) being added to the popular Github website, under free license for anyone to use or recreate?
3. Since becoming aware of the aview app – did the ABC initiate any take-down or (c) infringement action, based on the ABC’s obligations to content holders and access to iview via unofficial 3rd party apps, on the Android Google Play store in relation to it? If so when? If not – why not, as compared to the prompt same-day action taken with WP iviewftw this month?

The ABC refused to answer these specific questions.

So, what can we surmise from this request.

  • The Microsoft Store (c) infringement Store complaint process would appear to be more robust, efficient and effective – with a same-day result for the ABC in the case of iviewftw compared to no result yet with Google.
  • That the ABC either only slowly or reluctantly filed for a similar Android Store App take-down request compared to their quick-fire reaction to Windows Phone.

Whether the take-down request on the Android platform would have even taken place without our persistent line of questioning is something we will never know.

We DO know that the ABC monitor web-stats and service hits (API calls) by device type, OS etc with a contracted 3rd party – and on August 6th 2013 a link and advice of the unofficial 3rd party iview App “aview” in the Google Play store was tweeted to the official ABC GM Mark Scott Twitter account – 4 months before the ABC launched their official App.

Consequently either the ABC is incompetent and ignored/missed their own web-stats showing mobile Android iView device usage AND their monitored ABC GM twitter account feed….or they were aware and chose not to act, only now acting following the whole #OurABCToo campaign and iviewftw saga.

Either way – we will remain in the dark with the ABC refusing to answer basic questions asked of it. Media Watch – feel free to contact us.

Sheeds.