Wednesday, January 04, 2006

"Providing Access to Voices that are Overlooked by the Mainstream Media" (except yours)

(cross-posted from the syntax of things and edited slightly - original post here)

last friday i was scheduled to do a live webcast.

the evening before (after drinking liberally) i was all set to test the streaming connection to the server, only to have it not work after two hours of tweaking, running scripts, more tweaking, and some more tweaking for good measure. the only thing they were able to figure on the server side was that it was something on my end, possibly something being blocked by my isp. bearing that in mind (well, that and the seven-green man hangover that was beginning to set in), i left a post-it note on my monitor to remind myself to get in touch with the tech support at mountain area information network (my broadband provider) in the morning and went to bed.

anyway, long story short, webcasting is forbidden by main, at least according to one network admin's interpretation of their service agreement (PDF)...
The user agreement states:
"I will use the connection for client applications only. I will not use
this connection for any server of any type, including peer-to-peer file
sharing programs."
In other words web casting from your wireless connection is not supported.
okay. that's fair enough. frankly, i don't blame them for disallowing the use of, say, soulseek or bittorrent - the last thing a small outfit like main needs is a lawsuit brought against them by the recording or movie industry.

"server of any type", though? the way i understand it, i would have been connecting to a network server and streaming audio data from my own computer using a client application (in this case, vlc media player). no one would have been connecting directly to my computer in order to listen to the audio stream. maybe someone smarter than i am could explain how a client application can suddenly become a server application?

i find this extremely surprising and disappointing, especially given "MAIN's goal of providing access to voices that are overlooked by the mainstream media." well, at least that's what wally bowen said back in 2000. i don't know - as long as a user isn't exceeding her or his bandwidth cap or flagrantly violating any copyright laws, and as long as an outside server is willing to broadcast it, i really don't know how webcasting would go against any of main's philosophy, or even their service agreement. in fact, you'd think they would embrace it.

unless, that is, they'd rather leave the broadcasting to the "experts"...

it's really a shame - i like main. i like the fact that they're local, and that they provide a great community service here in a town that's slowly but surely being swallowed whole by corporate interests, big-box retail and other things that chip away at its "charm". i like the fact that i'm not giving money to ¢harter or bell $outh and i'm getting a kick-ass broadband connection, as well as good customer service that doesn't require you to talk to someone in india - i can't think of another isp that will give you the right cable if you don't have one, can you? it just seems like they're talking out of both sides of their mouth in this particular and isolated case.

(i guess the next time i want to do something crazy like webcasting i'll replace the nvram battery in the $10 laptop, get a wireless card and do a screwy hoolie-style drive-by on haywood st.)


Jim Jenkins said...

Damn! I'm currently working on a local church website that's hosted by MAIN which I recommended. They're hoping eventually to use webcasting and it never occurred to me that you might not be able to do it. I have a lot of respect for Wally Bowen. It might be worth it to seek a meeting with him to see if this issue could be resolved.

syntax said...

if the church is using another isp to stream audio to a shoutcast server or something similar, i don't see the problem with having a link to the server stream on a MAIN-hosted page. but if MAIN are the ISP as well, then yeah, you might want to explain your situation to them, but i'm pretty sure that they won't bend.

oh, i totally respect wally bowen as well, but i also understand that principles can't protect him or his business from copiously enforced copyright laws and file-sharing lawsuits.