Author Topic: Get Free Cable TV  (Read 44282 times)

DoubleDown

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Get Free Cable TV
« on: November 26, 2012, 10:13:25 AM »
It's been mentioned before in other threads, but some people may not know that if you get internet service through a cable provider, you can get free cable TV as well. A few years ago when I canceled my cable service (through Cox Communications in the DC area), the tech who came to my house to retrieve the equipment told me I'd continue to get basic cable free since he wasn't going to bother to climb the pole outside to disconnect it, and that they almost never do. The line that carries the cable internet signal carries the same cable television signal.

I noticed recently they have even boosted the number of channels we receive free of charge -- I guess the definition of "basic cable" has expanded significantly. We get somewhere between 80-100 channels for free (I didn't bother to count). They aren't the HD versions of the stations, but I have no complaints since they are free. And we just use an antenna to get all the free digital HD local stations like NBC, ABC, Fox, etc.

So if you're fretting over cutting cable, consider that if you keep your provider for internet service, you'll likely still get free cable TV too (fortunately for us, the cost of internet-only is a lot less than internet + TV).

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2012, 10:32:43 AM »
Do note, DoubleDOwn, this is technically illegal under 47 USC 553 and carries a penalty upwards of six months in prison and/or a $1000 fine. Cable companies are hemorrhaging money losing customers lately, content owners are litigious and cry piracy every chance they get, and it's not difficult to track down folks like yourself on the system.

Be cautious with this idea, and mind that OTA broadcasts can be had for most people for the price of a set of $10 rabbit ears. Unnecessary legal risk is not exactly what one might call a mustachian practice.
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Togoshiman

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2012, 10:53:26 AM »
Wait, someone makes a positive step to cancel their contract with a TV service provider and that provider continues to provide some of the service, and that puts the user at risk of prosecution?  Bring it on, FCC or cable company.  Please attempt to show a court how because I left my television connected to the cable in the wall and the cable company continued to send a signal to me despite my expressly asking them to stop invites liability.

Sorry, I don't mean to sound confrontational.  If the statute is somehow strict liability, then perhaps (I'm not in the US).  But I'd gleefully take the company to task who attempted to hit me with this.

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2012, 11:20:49 AM »
The problem is your involvement in the discontinuation of the service. IANAL, but if you requested a cessation of exchanging money for services, then you are on the hook to willfully refrain from continuing to use that service even if they don't disconnect you because you know that you're no longer paying for the service, so you should stop using it even if it's there.

Clearly, the United States needs some serious tort reform, and a massive overhaul of intellectual property law, but until then, yes. You're on the hook legally for using a service they won't properly disconnect if you're caught doing so. Hooray for corporate sponsored entrapment loopholes!
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DoubleDown

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2012, 11:30:33 AM »
Thank you for your caution I.P., but there is no legality problem whatsoever. In the code you cited, it specifically defines unlawful reception as "unauthorized interception or receipt of service." Obviously this is not a case of "unauthorized or intercepted service." It would be impossible for the cable provider to argue that my receipt of a signal sent to my home by them, paid for by me, using equipment provided by them, and not for redistribution (i.e., charging admission) is "unauthorized reception."

If you disagree, I would ask you to cite even one case, ever, where a homeowner faced prosecution in such a case.

The code I.P. cited:

(a) Unauthorized interception or receipt or assistance in intercepting or receiving service; “assist in intercepting or receiving” defined

(1) No person shall intercept or receive or assist in intercepting or receiving any communications service offered over a cable system, unless specifically authorized to do so by a cable operator or as may otherwise be specifically authorized by law.

(2) For the purpose of this section, the term “assist in intercepting or receiving” shall include the manufacture or distribution of equipment intended by the manufacturer or distributor (as the case may be) for unauthorized reception of any communications service offered over a cable system in violation of subparagraph (1).

kisserofsinners

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2012, 11:36:10 AM »
It's been my understanding that the internet connection, if it's via cable, *can't* be separated from the internet connection. If you have the internet signal the cable is there, too. You just need to split it and plug it in.

In my area, most people know this and the providers only charge a silly fee for basic cable just to encourage subscriptions.
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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2012, 12:38:41 PM »
Thank you for your caution I.P., but there is no legality problem whatsoever.

You missed the OR part of that passage, you are actually breaking the law doing what you are.

Quote
§553. Unauthorized reception of cable service
(a) Unauthorized interception or receipt or assistance in intercepting or receiving service; “assist in intercepting or receiving” defined
(1) No person shall intercept or receive or assist in intercepting or receiving any communications service offered over a cable system, unless specifically authorized to do so by a cable operator or as may otherwise be specifically authorized by law.
(2) For the purpose of this section, the term “assist in intercepting or receiving” shall include the manufacture or distribution of equipment intended by the manufacturer or distributor (as the case may be) for unauthorized reception of any communications service offered over a cable system in violation of subparagraph (1).

You see that red there before the "or assist in intercepting or receiving" part you're trying to claim gives you a loophole? No person shall intercept or receive. That wasn't an AND, it was an OR.

Just because prosecution hasn't happened often in the past and doesn't always happen now, doesn't mean it won't ever happen... and from an ethical standpoint, you are still receiving premium services that you cannot obtain for free with over the air equipment without paying for it. You want to be a cheap a-hole and stiff the cable company for providing service because it's easy and convenient for you to do so? Fine, I won't stop you. Just don't pretend that you aren't actually stealing the service now or are somehow above the law for doing so.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2012, 12:43:42 PM by I.P. Daley »
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DoubleDown

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2012, 01:27:45 PM »
"Cheap a-hole"? That's a bit strong, where does that come from? I may be cheap, and I may be an a-hole, but I'm no... Oh, wait...

Seriously though, I did see the "Or" in the passage, and I still disagree with your interpretation of the reception being "unauthorized." I am 100% confident that no court would agree with your interpretation (not that any prosecutor would be foolish enough to entertain such a ridiculous prosecution). They would sooner go after people pulling the "do not remove" labels off their mattresses and pillows. I hope others won't be scared away by your alarmist concerns and will use this as they can.

I am paying for the signal the cable company sends to my house. The company knows and acknowledges they are continuing to send me the analog cable signal along with my paid internet cable subscription, and they apparently could care less since they specifically told me about it when I canceled TV. I am not troubled about it either from a legal or ethical standpoint, but I respect that you are free to disagree.

Before my original post, I read part of the previous thread on cable TV and specifically noted where you said this, so what gives now?


Also, if you get your internet from the cable company, frequently you can also just hook up the coax and pull all the local stations for free. Always pays to try first before buying an antenna.


Nords

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2012, 02:19:15 PM »
...  the tech who came to my house to retrieve the equipment told me I'd continue to get basic cable free since he wasn't going to bother to climb the pole outside to disconnect it, and that they almost never do. The line that carries the cable internet signal carries the same cable television signal.
Heh-- in our neighborhood the utilities are underground, and the cable signal is split at the curbside box with appropriate filters for each subscriber...
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I.P. Daley

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2012, 03:28:49 PM »
Before my original post, I read part of the previous thread on cable TV and specifically noted where you said this, so what gives now?


Also, if you get your internet from the cable company, frequently you can also just hook up the coax and pull all the local stations for free. Always pays to try first before buying an antenna.


Three things:

1) "frequently you can also just hook up the coax and pull all the local stations for free. Always pays to try first before buying an antenna." Local stations, not premiums.
2) That was also before I discovered the changes to the law.
3) And this news basically sealed the deal for me on the legality of this practice for even local reception.

I've never been a two wrongs make a right guy, and I've tried not to advocate watching anything but locals off the cable company's coax around these parts. We mustn't abandon our scruples as we cut our overhead. If you value those non-OTA cable channels enough to hook them up to a television and watch them, pay for them... and given the changes to the laws, don't even bother with them if you just want the locals at this point. Just buy an antenna.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2012, 03:31:30 PM by I.P. Daley »
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DoubleDown

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2012, 11:04:54 AM »
I say stealing cable (or anything else) is bad.

Disconnecting cable service, and having them knowingly continue to send it to you free of charge (not stealing) is good, and certainly not illegal.

I.P., your additional links to "changes in the law, etc." were just links to previous comments of yours saying stealing cable is illegal, and an article that cable companies will be allowed to encrypt signals. Good for them. I note you still not have not provided any actual case law showing that receiving signals the cable company is willfully sending you free of charge has been deemed an illegal practice. Such cases do not exist.

And to use an analogy just to point out the illogical point of view I think you are putting forward here, it would be like me sending you packages of stuff in the mail each day, then claiming you are stealing from me by accepting them. You notify me that you'd no longer like to receive these packages in the mail, but I continue to send them, free of charge, then attempt to press charges against you for opening them. Needless to say, the court would not be amused with such a frivolous case, but would probably entertain a counter-suit against me for harassing you.

I.P. Daley

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2012, 12:09:36 PM »
I say stealing cable (or anything else) is bad.

Disconnecting cable service, and having them knowingly continue to send it to you free of charge (not stealing) is good, and certainly not illegal.

Lazy field tech who doesn't reapply filters =/= tacit approval from corporate for you to have free premium television service.

You can try to fling as many arguments against the wall as you like trying to make excuses, but it doesn't change the basics. The only signal you're paying for is the spectrum used for your internet connection. Theft under this situation as defined by the law is receiving signals on their wire that you do not pay for.

What you are doing by the letter of the law is illegal, no matter what excuses or "logical" reasoning you make.
Lack of enforcement or ignorance of the law is not a legal defense when the law is enforced.
There are plenty of illogical laws applied in this country against the populace daily, and the punishments stand.

All I did is point out that what you're doing and suggesting is illegal, which it clearly is. You're the one trying to defend the practice, find loopholes, and make excuses to encourage others to do likewise by trying in earnest to prove what you're doing somehow isn't. You're stealing cable because you can (even if only by a string of events fueled by apathy instead of greased palms), and you're encouraging others to do likewise. I don't give a crap about you wanting to do that, but don't pretend it's anything but when you tell others.
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TLV

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2012, 01:12:02 PM »
This reminds me of our internet situation in our last apartment. When the Comcast promo ended (15mbps for $20/mo went up to $60/mo), we called and asked to switch to 3mbps at $40/mo. They said it would happen automatically in a couple of days. Our bill went down as expected, but according to speedtest.net the speed stayed at 15mbps the entire time we were in that apartment.

Now, in this situation we couldn't use what we were paying for without also using the extra bandwidth - and on top of that, Comcast has loads of disclaimers that the speed you get won't necessarily be what you pay for (though usually in the negative way). Was it illegal for us not to report that?

Legality aside and only talking ethics, should we have called Comcast repeatedly to try to get it fixed? Our usage patterns would have been exactly the same (when we did get 3 mbps in the next apartment, we didn't notice a change other than what speedtest reported). I would think that Comcast's costs for dealing with the phone calls and possibly sending a guy out to fix it would have been higher than whatever marginally higher costs they incurred by providing the higher speed for a few extra months, so we may have been doing them a favor - or is that just me trying to justify a poor decision?

strider3700

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2012, 02:50:04 PM »
usually the provider can remotely tell the modem to limit it's speed.   Not sure why they didn't do that.   Technically but very against the rules you can change the settings in your own modem and usually get far faster speeds.   They very quickly spot this and are not friendly to those that do it.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2012, 05:42:50 PM »
Theft under this situation as defined by the law is receiving signals on their wire that you do not pay for.

Firstly, it's not theft. Nowhere does the term "theft" appear in the statute. Theft is unlawfully appropriating property with intent to deprive the owner of property. Those signals are being sent to your home whether or not you plug in a TV or modem. Your cable company is not being deprived of anything whether or not you plug in a TV or a modem. It's not theft.

Your definition of "receive" is incorrect. You're receiving cable TV signals and the service from the cable company in this situation no matter what. Whether or not you decide to plug a TV into the end of the cable in your house and turn it on to make pictures out of those signals doesn't change whether or not you're receiving it.

The purpose of the statute is to criminalize people who splice into the cable company's line or try and run a wire from their paying neighbor to get service. That's dangerous, can threaten emergency systems, could lead to people mistakenly electrocuting themselves if they cut the wrong wire or adversely affect everyone else's service. Nothing like this happens in the other situation. The fact that the cable company is too lazy to turn off their own signal is their own problem.

No one has ever been tried or convicted because they attached a TV to a cable jack in their home that their cable company had mistakenly left on. It's the silliest thing I could imagine because it's not illegal.

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2012, 08:38:56 PM »
Anything and everything to justify doing the wrong thing, right Chuckles?

You heard it here first, folks: It's only theft if you're prosecuted for it.
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DoubleDown

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2012, 10:03:22 AM »
I had disengaged from this debate since I felt I had already made the point that many of us do not even remotely consider this theft, and now I'm (probably unwisely) wading back in. I appreciate others weighing in to support my view, and I do appreciate your view as well I.P., even if I continue to disagree with you.

Not that chucklesmcgee needs any help from me defending himself, but he did NOT say what you claim (nor did I). Neither one of us has attempted to argue that if you aren't caught or prosecuted, then it's not theft. That would obviously be a fallacious argument. And I don't engage in such unethical behavior and would not advise anyone else to either. We do not believe it is stealing, period, for the other reasons we have laid out, because of our interpretation of the legal statute.

We tried to add weight to our argument by pointing out that never, ever, has a case been brought against someone for this, and what could be a possible explanation for that if it is theft, as you say? Is it because the police are too apathetic, or because they don't have the resources, or any other excuse? Heck, they prosecute thieves all the time where I live. No, I think a very legitimate explanation of why no one is prosecuted in such cases is because it is not illegal.

I'm sure there are tens of thousands of people in my city alone receiving cable television in this way, so there are plenty of easy pickings for criminal cases if it was, in fact, illegal. The cable company could be screaming bloody murder to the local D.A. that they are being ripped off by the millions if they had a problem with it. Yet there are no complaints, so why would that be? It's not like they don't know they are sending me the signal. I've received no "cease and desist" demands either. I got the opposite instruction from the company representative at my home (even if was not from the CEO of the national corporation, as you suggested): "We're turning off your premium TV service, but you'll continue to receive basic cable with your internet signal."

One thing I do agree with you, I.P., is that it doesn't matter what you or I do personally, but I would hope the others reading do not take your alarmist (and not legal expert) interpretation as gospel. I believe you are reading way too much into the statute you cited, but to each his own.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2012, 11:36:02 AM »
You heard it here first, folks: It's only theft if you're prosecuted for it.

Nope. It's extremely strong evidence it's not theft though if no one's ever been prosecuted for it or anything similar under a statute. By your definition of receive, a personal is receiving unauthorized cable service even if they don't connect their TV!

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2012, 12:31:48 PM »
Let's ignore the moral and ethical angle of this briefly, shall we? The law is broad enough in its structure that it has the possibility to be abused. That makes it a liability. You are deliberately and knowingly continuing to receive services that cannot be received without financially compensating the owners for that content. The content owners of these services define that act as theft under modern copyright law. Copyright law is no longer a matter of civil application, it is federal. This too, makes it a further liability. It doesn't matter how little people get prosecuted for it now or in the past as it doesn't change the fact that it is, can and likely will become a liability no matter how minuscule the risk currently.

Everything you and Chuckles spouted off do not contradict and invalidate the law cited and the liability it carries no matter how much you try and argue; they are excuses built upon the convenience of lack of enforced precedence at the individual level made to justify your actions as somehow being above the law, so clearly there's no danger in doing so, right? Try selling that line to Jammie Thomas these days.

DoubleDOwn? YOU stated that the service has no value. YOU requested that the service be disconnected. YOU have the choice to not use that service even if your field tech was too lazy to do his job. Yet YOU continue to use the service, defend using the service, and even go so far as to encourage others to do likewise as a theft of convenience. You sir, are a hypocrite.

I'm calling a spade a spade, but I'm finished being polite about it. You and Chuckles here are the only people trying to defend the practice by turning linguistic somersaults to defend your actions as somehow being legal, ethical and without risk. There is a clear and blatant price attached with your cable company that accompanies the level of service you're utilizing that has a higher sticker price than what you're currently paying them, and your bill does not reflect the inclusion of those services. This is the very nucleus of what stealing cable television service involves, and there is absolutely nothing badass or socially responsible about what you're doing.

I say stealing cable (or anything else) is bad.

I don't give a crap about you wanting to do that, but don't pretend it's anything but when you tell others.

Consider this your facepunch. You want to advocate stealing cable TV (if its convenient) to save money on entertainment costs? Have the self respect to call it what it really is and don't hide behind excuses when you're called out for it.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 12:34:41 PM by I.P. Daley »
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DoubleDown

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2012, 12:47:19 PM »
Complete nonsense. You can keep your facepunch.

Rangifer

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2012, 05:57:51 PM »
Complete nonsense.

Agreed. I'd do the same thing in your situation.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2012, 11:11:32 AM »
the convenience of lack of enforced precedence at the individual level made to justify your actions as somehow being above the law, so clearly there's no danger in doing so, right? Try selling that line to Jammie Thomas these days.

My argument is not that it's ok to break the law because it's not enforced, my argument is that keeping your TV plugged into a cable jack in your house is not breaking the law because it's not the law. The case you cite is irrelevant, defendant's argued that they weren't the ones who illegally shared songs online, not that sharing songs online was legal because such laws had never been enforced.  The fact that no one has ever been prosecuted or convicted for such activity is merely evidence not dispositive that the cable company sending your house cable is not illegal. 

And further, if we take your interpretation of receive to include connecting a TV into a cable jack activated by the cable company, it would have to include simply having the cable service being active on the cable running into your home- whether you knew it or not!  Do customers have a duty to check every cable outlet in their home to make sure it's not getting cable services which haven't been specifically authorized? Are people moving into a home risking stiff penalties if they don't call the cable company to make sure that every outlet has been turned off by the previous owner even if they have no intention of using any cable services? That's a fundamentally bizarre and unjust result and obviously not the meaning of the statute.

So either every American with cable internet service for whom the cable company has failed to disconnect service is guilty or the law isn't what you think it is.

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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2012, 07:31:20 PM »
Hey folks ... I think people reading this thread are probably very clear at this point where each of you stands on this issue, and have probably made up their minds whose side they are on.  With all due respect, may I ask if you think you're really going to change each other's minds, or get the other to back down?  Or maybe it's time to just walk away from this fight? 

Please excuse me if I'm breaching etiquette on this forum - each online community has its own way of handling this kind of situation, and I've not been around long enough to figure it out how it's done around here.  This conversation just seems a bit repetitive and counter-productive at this point. 
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Re: Get Free Cable TV
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2012, 12:48:11 PM »
Someone may have brought this up earlier, but the FCC will soon allow cable companies to encrypt the "basic cable" stream much like they do the premium channels which will force anyone who wants cable TV to go through a box.  Rabbit ears are not impacted by this of course.