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mtoto
Level 7

Why would I start developing a channel?

The roku seems like a great platform but I have just started to delve into the developer T&C's and have become rather confused and concerned about Roku's business model. I am hoping peeps here can help explain some things to me so that I can decide if I should invest time in porting a my applications to it or not.

1. Section 9: "Nothing in this Agreement will impair Roku's right to ... compete with the Channel Application"

On its own this clause is discouraging, but not fatal. I am ok with competition... though Roku would obviously have an advantage controlling the technology and channel store if they decided to compete.

2. Roku may cease distributing the Channel Application ... if roku has reason to believe that such action is prudent or necessary.

Combined with the preceding clause this seems fatal. Why would I, or anyone else, invest in an application if roku can just remove it if they decide to compete with it directly or via a partner or even just for ransom?

3. All Content must be in the English language and originate in the United States unless otherwise agreed by Roku in writing.

Being based in UK, with customers and material in most european languages, this clause really brought me up short. What on earth is this about? Really? Did roku not hear about the global internet yet? Are roku trying to be a generic set top platform (which they seem great at) or a gatekeeper (at which they have no chance long term at all - IMO)?

5. Was the DishWorld deal a abberation or indicative of roku's strategy?

4. Why are Roku so paranoid about content viewed with their devices?

MicroSoft & friends ship PC's with a browser that can access anything that is out there - no one is pinning copyright claims on them are they?

Again, this probably comes down to roku's business model - but please spell it out for me.

I don't want to turn my back on this nice gadget but at face value it seems a non-starter for any signifigant applications. I am still hoping I have got the wrong end of the stick somehow.
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21 Replies
TheEndless
Level 7

Re: Why would I start developing a channel?

"mtoto" wrote:
2. Roku may cease distributing the Channel Application ... if roku has reason to believe that such action is prudent or necessary.

Combined with the preceding clause this seems fatal. Why would I, or anyone else, invest in an application if roku can just remove it if they decide to compete with it directly or via a partner or even just for ransom?

That's a rather extreme interpretation of that clause. They're just saying they reserve the right to pull the channel if it violates Roku's terms or DMCA. There's nothing to suggest they would pull your channel because they want to compete with it.
"mtoto" wrote:
3. All Content must be in the English language and originate in the United States unless otherwise agreed by Roku in writing.

Being based in UK, with customers and material in most european languages, this clause really brought me up short. What on earth is this about? Really? Did roku not hear about the global internet yet? Are roku trying to be a generic set top platform (which they seem great at) or a gatekeeper (at which they have no chance long term at all - IMO)?

This is only true for channels published in North America due to the DishWorld agreement. It doesn't apply to international channel stores.
"mtoto" wrote:
4. Why are Roku so paranoid about content viewed with their devices?

MicroSoft & friends ship PC's with a browser that can access anything that is out there - no one is pinning copyright claims on them are they?

Again, this probably comes down to roku's business model - but please spell it out for me.

This is covered extensively elsewhere. You have to have the rights to distribute the content on set top platforms. This is true for any device, not just Roku. If you have the rights to distribute it, then Roku won't stop you, but you can't distribute content that belongs to someone else.
My Channels: http://roku.permanence.com - Twitter: @TheEndlessDev
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EnTerr
Level 8

Re: Why would I start developing a channel?

"TheEndless" wrote:
"mtoto" wrote:
2. Roku may cease distributing the Channel Application ... if roku has reason to believe that such action is prudent or necessary.

Combined with the preceding clause this seems fatal. Why would I, or anyone else, invest in an application if roku can just remove it if they decide to compete with it directly or via a partner or even just for ransom?

That's a rather extreme interpretation of that clause. They're just saying they reserve the right to pull the channel if it violates Roku's terms or DMCA. There's nothing to suggest they would pull your channel because they want to compete with it.

Heh, that's not what they said. If they wanted to say "if it violates Roku's terms or DMCA", they would have said it. Instead it says "if ... such action is prudent". "Prudent" being "Careful in regard to one's own interests; provident", that's a much broader "as they see fit".

I don't think this is unique to RokuCo though - e.g. Apple yanks apps from AppStore as they please, with no right to defend it in a formal hearing.
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TheEndless
Level 7

Re: Why would I start developing a channel?

"EnTerr" wrote:
"TheEndless" wrote:
"mtoto" wrote:
2. Roku may cease distributing the Channel Application ... if roku has reason to believe that such action is prudent or necessary.

Combined with the preceding clause this seems fatal. Why would I, or anyone else, invest in an application if roku can just remove it if they decide to compete with it directly or via a partner or even just for ransom?

That's a rather extreme interpretation of that clause. They're just saying they reserve the right to pull the channel if it violates Roku's terms or DMCA. There's nothing to suggest they would pull your channel because they want to compete with it.

Heh, that's not what they said. If they wanted to say "if it violates Roku's terms or DMCA", they would have said it. Instead it says "if ... such action is prudent". "Prudent" being "Careful in regard to one's own interests; provident", that's a much broader "as they see fit".

I don't think this is unique to RokuCo though - e.g. Apple yanks apps from AppStore as they please, with no right to defend it in a formal hearing.

Regardless of how you interpret it, it's just them covering their collective butts. If they didn't reserve the right to pull a channel, they could get into some pretty nasty legal issues should a legitimate need arise. Wording it loosely allows some wiggle room for it to cover previously unforeseen scenarios.

Either way, I stand by my assertion that mtoto's is an extreme interpretation.
My Channels: http://roku.permanence.com - Twitter: @TheEndlessDev
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mtoto
Level 7

Re: Why would I start developing a channel?

"TheEndless" wrote:

"mtoto" wrote:
2. Roku may cease distributing the Channel Application ... if roku has reason to believe that such action is prudent or necessary.

Combined with the preceding clause this seems fatal. Why would I, or anyone else, invest in an application if roku can just remove it if they decide to compete with it directly or via a partner or even just for ransom?

That's a rather extreme interpretation of that clause.


Indeed. I expect that is just what all the developers of foreign content channels said when Roku pulled them to make way for DishWorld! Just shows how important it is to read the small print unless you are just playing with yourself woldn't you agree?

"TheEndless" wrote:

They're just saying they reserve the right to pull the channel if it violates Roku's terms or DMCA. There's nothing to suggest they would pull your channel because they want to compete with it.


So what exactly do you think happened with DishWorld?
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firedup
Level 7

Re: Why would I start developing a channel?

"TheEndless" wrote:
Either way, I stand by my assertion that mtoto's is an extreme interpretation.

Unless you are Videobuzz that gets aggressively banned while Whatson continues to stream the same content. Or Playon which is handled roughly while other developers stream similar content without repercussion.

OP asked why one would start developing a channel. Here are some answers...

- you want content on the Roku which no one else is willing to develop for. Religious, political, and social activists have developed channels
- you have a relationship with Roku
- you are trying to showcase your talents
- you sell content you want to stream to a TV -- Netflix, Amazon, et al

I briefly pondered developing a channel for a education network. After reading the 'fine print' and seeing the Videobuzz team run out of town, I decided to go with another product which did not require programming.
http://freetvforme.wordpress.com
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TheEndless
Level 7

Re: Why would I start developing a channel?

"firedup" wrote:
"TheEndless" wrote:
Either way, I stand by my assertion that mtoto's is an extreme interpretation.

Unless you are Videobuzz that gets aggressively banned while Whatson continues to stream the same content. Or Playon which is handled roughly while other developers stream similar content without repercussion.

Videobuzz was pulled for a DMCA complaint. I'm not sure what you consider aggressive about that, unless you're referring to the conspiracy theory that Roku was targeting the sideloaded channel, which was patently false. Whatson's content is secret, so Google probably hasn't been made aware of it in order to make a DMCA complaint. Playon is a very long story.. one which has been explained to you many times, and one that is largely their own fault due to the way they responded to the initial takedown.

Regardless, neither VideoBuzz nor PlayOn were pulled because Roku wanted to release a competing product, which is what mtoto was suggesting that clause in the developer's agreement was for.
My Channels: http://roku.permanence.com - Twitter: @TheEndlessDev
Instant Watch Browser (NetflixIWB), Aquarium Screensaver (AQUARIUM), Clever Clocks Screensaver (CLEVERCLOCKS), iTunes Podcasts (ITPC), My Channels (MYCHANNELS)
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EnTerr
Level 8

Re: Why would I start developing a channel?

You guys talking about DiscWorld here? Smiley Tongue
That's how i mis-read it first, i wonder if it was because of firedup's avatar

"TheEndless" wrote:
"EnTerr" wrote:
Heh, that's not what they said. If they wanted to say "if it violates Roku's terms or DMCA", they would have said it. Instead it says "if ... such action is prudent". "Prudent" being "Careful in regard to one's own interests; provident", that's a much broader "as they see fit".

I don't think this is unique to RokuCo though - e.g. Apple yanks apps from AppStore as they please, with no right to defend it in a formal hearing.

Regardless of how you interpret it, it's just them covering their collective butts. If they didn't reserve the right to pull a channel, they could get into some pretty nasty legal issues should a legitimate need arise. Wording it loosely allows some wiggle room for it to cover previously unforeseen scenarios.

The CYA cases of "should a legitimate need arise" are already covered by "necessary" in "if ... such action is prudent or necessary". Those might be the cases of VideoBuzz and PlayOn (i don't know details but take your word on it) - so let's not muddle the water with that. Let's focus on "prudent" - which allows things like the "DishWorld Event" - and worse. I would love to hear how that was a necessity.

Either way, I stand by my assertion that mtoto's is an extreme interpretation.
Your personal "assertions" on this bear no legal weight*. Now, if somebody from RokuCo would step in and make statement what may happen and what will never happen, that's another story. But they won't, since such statements ("in writing" Smiley Happy ) may create future obligations. And of course RokuCo's legal counsel may update the agreement language to dispel developer doubts. (By all means - let me know if that happens!)

Please note: that does not mean RokuCo are evil or cannot be trusted today - here i have seen only well-intended people and you can trust the Co as much as you want. Rather the point is developers' interests are not protected, should company start doing evil things (like teh DW Event) later. And i will repeat again: this is not unique to RokuCo, other companies also reserve the right to remove apps "as they see fit".

(*) Here i am making assumption you are not a lawyer and just like me are not qualified to give legal advice - but correct me if i guessed wrong.
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firedup
Level 7

Re: Why would I start developing a channel?

"TheEndless" wrote:
Regardless, neither VideoBuzz nor PlayOn were pulled because Roku wanted to release a competing product, which is what mtoto was suggesting that clause in the developer's agreement was for.
Why was PlayOn targeted?
http://freetvforme.wordpress.com
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TheEndless
Level 7

Re: Why would I start developing a channel?

"EnTerr" wrote:
Your personal "assertions" on this bear no legal weight*.

I never claimed they did, but a) the OP asked for our opinions, and b) he/she suggested that the wording indicated that Roku would pull a channel just because they wanted to release a channel that competed with it. There has been no indication that that would ever be the case. If he/she chooses to read it that way, then that's on them, but I'm still allowed to express my opinion on it being an extreme interpretation. Does it mean that Roku could do that? I suppose it does, but as you pointed out, I'm no lawyer. Do I have any reason to believe that they would? No.

"EnTerr" wrote:
which allows things like the "DishWorld Event"

Again, I'll share my opinion on that. The "DishWorld Event" is/was a special case, and was very specific in its scope. I think Roku found themselves without the expertise and/or legal knowledge to manage the growing amount of international content being made available on the device, so they chose to bring in a partner that did. That may have resulted in the loss of some valuable, legal content (YuppTV comes to mind) and the ire of a handful of international developers, but in the end it ensured that they weren't violating the rights of content owners outside of their purview.
My Channels: http://roku.permanence.com - Twitter: @TheEndlessDev
Instant Watch Browser (NetflixIWB), Aquarium Screensaver (AQUARIUM), Clever Clocks Screensaver (CLEVERCLOCKS), iTunes Podcasts (ITPC), My Channels (MYCHANNELS)
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