This Week in Tech 627: Do You Inkwell?

Leo, Ashley Esqueda, Michael Nunez, and Dylan Tweney debunk the “Google Memo.” Mark Zuckerberg still refuses to admit he is running for president. If you use Instagram’s “Inkwell” filter, you are probably depressed. Google is taking over the open internet. An MIT Algorithm can tell if you are sarcastic on Twitter. HBO hack fallout. Phishing the White House. Podcast patent troll loses to EFF. Email Patent Troll vs Techdirt. Snap stock down after Facebook/Instagram copies all their best features. Forget everything you know about passwords. Hacking computers with DNA.

–Ashley Esqueda knows about the secret island where we are raising Leo Laporte clones.
–Dylan Tweney would prefer that you not use a Valley Girl accent when talking about his company.
–Michael Nunez is feeling kind of sweaty right now.

Advertisements

HBO to VPN HBO Now Users: Prove You Live in U.S. or We Will Terminate You

For many customers, HBO refuses to offer any legal option to access its content, while pushing harsh penalties for those who steal it

Time Warner Inc.’s (TWX) network cash cow HBO (Home Box Office) has convinced some to “cut the cable” (cable TV cable that is… you need internet still) by signing up for HBO Now — a $15 USD/month subscription service. The service gives you access to all the most coveted content at cable television’s oldest network. That includes the most pirated show on the internet — Game of Thrones.

I. Of Streaming and VPNs

After its March 9 unveil at Apple, Inc.’s (AAPL) Apple Watch launch event, HBO Now went live on April 7 — just in time for the Sunday, April 12 premier of Game of Thrones. So just how many people signed up for the service? It’s hard to say, but it’s likely no more than a couple million initially, given that most users will need an Apple device to access it and only so many own a compatible device.

If you don’t own an Apple device, the only way you’re going to get access is if Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC) happens to provide services in your area. Cablevision is the first cable internet provider to bite on Time Warner’s offer in that space. It allows its cable internet users to directly subscrible to HBO Now on settop boxes, without a cable TV package. When you consider Cablevision only has a couple million internet customers, though, it’s clear access is still pretty limited.

DailyTech - HBO to VPN HBO Now Users: Prove You Live in U.S. or We Will Terminate You

[Image Source: The Verge]

Now there’s yet another hoop you have to jump through — U.S. residency. HBO Now is currently a U.S. only service. Outside the U.S. it would be an attractive option, given that even as close as Canada there’s regions that don’t have a cable provider offering HBO. Overseas — in Europe, for example — HBO access is even harder to come by.

But like most streaming services including Netflix Inc. (NFLX) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) international uses is verboeten. To be fair, this prohibition isn’t entirely Netflix, Amazon, or even HBO’s fault. Some of it comes down to local copyright licensing deals. Locally different companies may license certain content that is licensed by these popular streaming services in the U.S. To allow free international access to the U.S. subscription service would seem to amount to breaching those local licensing deals. So it’s not allowed.

No problem right?

Read more: DailyTech – HBO to VPN HBO Now Users: Prove You Live in U.S. or We Will Terminate You.

Comcast will bring HBO Go to Roku owners at last

After “several months” of negotiations, Roku and Comcast have ended their unexplained standoff over HBO Go streaming.

That means HBO Go will finally be available to Comcast subscribers through Roku’s streaming set-top boxes and stick, though it’s unclear exactly when the companies will flip the switch. Roku’s attorneys confirmed the agreement in an FCC filing, which was first spotted by Re/code.

HBO Go launched its Roku app in 2011, allowing subscribers to stream the network’s original series, movies, and specials. But the app only works for cable or satellite providers who have authorized it, and for the last three years, Comcast has given Roku the cold shoulder without explanation.

Likewise, Comcast continues to block HBO Go on Sony’s PlayStation 4, even after being part of HBO Go’s Xbox One launch last month. “With every new website, device or player we authenticate, we need to work through technical integration and customer service which takes time and resources,” Comcast told The Verge in March. “Moving forward, we will continue to prioritize as we partner with various players.”

The line about prioritization might make sense for a one-year-old game console, but Roku is the most popular TV set-top box on the market. Unfortunately, the new FCC filing doesn’t say what the holdup was, but at least it’s going to be over soon.

The story behind the story: As Re/code points out, Comcast is trying to convince regulators to approve a $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, and the continued blocking of HBO Go could be a form of ammunition for the deal’s opponents. It could be just a coincidence, but between allowing HBO Go on Roku and taking steps to improve its notoriously awful customer service, it certainly looks like Comcast is trying to be on its best behavior.

via Comcast will bring HBO Go to Roku owners at last | PCWorld.