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View Full Version : Is unrequested, unpaid-for cable TV legal?


Valgard
03-31-2004, 08:51 PM
Sorry, tried to cram it all into one short sentence.

Here's the scoop; I bought my house about 18 months ago. The previous owners had coax cable run through the crawlspace and all over the place. I don't watch TV (just movies that I rent) so I yanked some of the cable out, left some in since I've had better things to do than pull it all out.

Today my housemate informs me that out of boredom he plugged the coax into my TV and voila, it turns out that I've got 70 channels, basic cable service. AFAIK it's been "active" since I bought the place.

So, given that I have never asked for cable TV service, have never gotten a bill and just assumed that if the previous owners had a cable subscription that it expired when they moved, is there anything illegal with keeping the TV plugged in? If a company sends me unrequested merchandise in the mail it's mine to keep, I'd assume that if the cable co. keeps my line lit without my asking and they never charge me for it it's similar.

I'm just asking about the LEGALITY of this. I'm not looking for MORAL opinions :-)

BobT
03-31-2004, 08:55 PM
But the cable signal hasn't been sent to you unsolicited in the mail.
Look at it another way. You buy a house from Al Capone. Inside it is $50,000 that he has made from bootlegging, but he left behind. You find the money. I have the distinct feeling that it isn't yours to keep.

Gorsnak
03-31-2004, 09:06 PM
But the cable signal hasn't been sent to you unsolicited in the mail.
Look at it another way. You buy a house from Al Capone. Inside it is $50,000 that he has made from bootlegging, but he left behind. You find the money. I have the distinct feeling that it isn't yours to keep.
Sure the cable signal has been sent to Valgard unsolicited. The cable company sure as anything is sending it, and Valgard sure as anything didn't solicit it. It's the cable company's responsibility to disconnect the lines of cancelled accounts, not Valgard's.

Knowing cable companies, if he calls to tell them to disconnect it, they'll charge him for it.

barbitu8
03-31-2004, 09:11 PM
The cable company made a mistake. However, once you have discovered that you can now get cable due to the company's mistake, it is incumbent upon you to notify the company of its error. You are not liable for the past cable since you were unaware of the error and did not know that it was live. Once you have discovered that, you should inform the company. Not to do so would possibly make you liable under "unjust enrichment."

Diceman
03-31-2004, 09:52 PM
Are you sure that the previous owners weren't stealing the signal? That would explain why you've never gotten a bill or anything.

I'd call the cable company and explain the situation. Just don't let them bill you; you never asked for the service, so you don't owe them a dime.

I Am Not A Lawyer, etc.

hajario
03-31-2004, 09:59 PM
barbitu8 is totally correct. If you knew or should have known that you were getting the cable illegally, you are obligated to tell them about it. You didn't know and had no reason to know prior to your roommate's discovery.

Haj

xvxdarkknightxvx
03-31-2004, 10:03 PM
Is "unjust enrichment" illegal?

IMO feel free to keep it, unless it turns out that the previous owners were just stealing the cable.

quothz
03-31-2004, 10:20 PM
I'd call the cable company and explain the situation.

I would write them a letter or email. You have a wierd situation, and the possibilities for a miscommunication are many.

dqa
03-31-2004, 10:28 PM
According to this site (http://www.ndsu.edu/instruct/swandal/AGEC375f/Concepts/unjust.htm) at North Dakota State,

[15] Five elements must be established to prove unjust enrichment:
1. An enrichment;
2. An impoverishment;
3. A connection between the enrichment and the impoverishment;
4. Absence of a justification for the enrichment and impoverishment; and
5. An absence of a remedy provided by law.
Does the lack of a cable subscription here really constitute impoverishment? Valgard has for many months had no cable subscription. It is not as though he found the cable stream, and for that reason chose not to subscribe. The cable company was getting no money, and had no apparent prospect of getting any money in this case. To my mind, this makes it difficult to prove "impoverishment," but I have no idea what standards must be met for impoverishment to be established.

Valgard
03-31-2004, 11:40 PM
Suppose "Sports Illustrated" started sending me issues. They never send a bill, and I never asked for the subscription. Am I under any legal obligation to tell them to cut it out? Suppose I happen to enjoy the magazine? Can I keep the Football Phone and the "Making Of The Swimsuit Issue" video tape?

Being only a tad facetious with that. As Gorsnak said, it's not my job to keep their records up to date.

I don't think that the previous owners were bootlegging - there's one of those grey cable-company enclosure boxes where the cable line goes to on my exterior wall and this is a single-family dwelling, not a condo or something where you could run a line off of anybody else.

Gorsnak
04-01-2004, 12:06 AM
I don't think that the previous owners were bootlegging - there's one of those grey cable-company enclosure boxes where the cable line goes to on my exterior wall and this is a single-family dwelling, not a condo or something where you could run a line off of anybody else.
Well, it's not really that hard to open those boxes. Though if your city is like mine, then the disconnection point is at either the overhead line in the back alley, or if the lines are underground, in the steel box with phone and cable junctions (also in the back alley, and locked) - the box on the wall of the house is just where they switch from heavier outdoor cable to lighter indoor cable, and possibly mount a splitter or three. Mind you, it's not that hard to get up to the overhead cable lines, or into the locked junction box, either.

But my best guess is that the guy who got the assignment to disconnect your place just skipped doing it, figuring nobody'd ever realize he hadn't - or rather, some other cable guy would show up two weeks later when the new tenants called to get hooked up, see it was already hooked up, shrug and go collect the connection fee. Cable guy #1 gets paid for the call, no time expended. Cable guy #2 saves a few minutes. Everybody wins.

Obsidian
04-01-2004, 01:10 AM
I had an appartment in college. We moved in in June, hooked our TV up to rabbit ears (broke that we were) and watched some fuzzy network TV. In the fall, when when my roommate and I both finally found jobs, we decided to get cable. The guy came out, and told us the cable had been on all this time (including a full range of premium channels).

We replied we had no idea, we'd never hooked it up. The guy insisted we were getting illegal cable. We repeated that we'd never plugged the line in-- why in God's name would we call and order cable if we already had it free? It seems they never turned it off after the last tenant left.

One month later, we got a bill for $300, most of it labeled past due (on our brand new account, which they back dated to June). It took months for me to get it fixed.

Beware of calling your cable company.

David Simmons
04-01-2004, 01:32 AM
Suppose "Sports Illustrated" started sending me issues. They never send a bill, and I never asked for the subscription. Am I under any legal obligation to tell them to cut it out? Suppose I happen to enjoy the magazine? Can I keep the Football Phone and the "Making Of The Swimsuit Issue" video tape?

Being only a tad facetious with that. As Gorsnak said, it's not my job to keep their records up to date.

I don't think that the previous owners were bootlegging - there's one of those grey cable-company enclosure boxes where the cable line goes to on my exterior wall and this is a single-family dwelling, not a condo or something where you could run a line off of anybody else.

If I remember correctly there is a specific law that governs unsolicited stuff that comes through the mail. And I believe that you are never under any obligation to pay for it even though you use it. That isn't the case with cable TV though.

IANAL but unless there is a specific statute governing the matter, in general you can't take advantage of someone's mistake to enrich yourself as has been said.

dmartin29
04-01-2004, 02:31 AM
Write to the Cable Co. and claim They have infringed on your privacy, safety and discression. You have discovered that the cable is connected and that has exposed your very young neice, nephew or whatever to the potential of viewing unsavory and possibly, in your opinion immoral content. Even though cable voltage is minimal the connected, unlabeled wire has been a potential vector for damage in a thunder storm, presenting a fire hazard. In hooking up the wire to your TV as an experiment to see if just the length of wire would act as an independent TV Antenna for local broadcast you potentially disclosed private information through the interactive features cable. Of course IANAL and just a rabble rouser but try to bill them for the hazard and time you have spent sending them the letter and assuring that they disconnect. At your going rate of $400/hour, considerating the investigation (reading and writing here) and action you feel they owe you $800, or two more years free cable for your trouble!

mks57
04-01-2004, 03:11 AM
My local cable company considers it piracy, even though they seem to have a policy of not disconnecting the cable when a tenant moves out. I suppose they consider that an unnecessary use of manpower.

Scumpup
04-01-2004, 07:17 AM
I watched free cable for over a year. I called to have service disconnected because IMO the programming available wasn't worth paying for. They acknowledged me as disconnected right there on the phone and sent me a "final bill" in the mail to close the account. The thing is, the signal was never interrupted. I continued watching until I moved and the new tenant, I suppose, continued to do so. I figured I had done my part, if they couldn't be bothered to actually disconnect me, it was their problem.

barbitu8
04-01-2004, 07:33 AM
According to this site (http://www.ndsu.edu/instruct/swandal/AGEC375f/Concepts/unjust.htm) at North Dakota State,


Does the lack of a cable subscription here really constitute impoverishment? Valgard has for many months had no cable subscription. It is not as though he found the cable stream, and for that reason chose not to subscribe. The cable company was getting no money, and had no apparent prospect of getting any money in this case. To my mind, this makes it difficult to prove "impoverishment," but I have no idea what standards must be met for impoverishment to be established.
Lack of cable is to be impoverished as to the cable. I wasn't familiar with any state statute, but that was the law that I learned in law school as the Common Law. State statutes may have amended that slightly, but any statute must be interpreted in light of the common law.

David Simmons If I remember correctly there is a specific law that governs unsolicited stuff that comes through the mail. And I believe that you are never under any obligation to pay for it There is a federal statute to that effect, which, as you said, is not the case here.

xvxdarkknightxvx Is "unjust enrichment" illegal? We are not talking about crimes, but about civil actions.

Bromley
04-01-2004, 08:05 AM
According to this site (http://www.ndsu.edu/instruct/swandal/AGEC375f/Concepts/unjust.htm) at North Dakota State,

[15] Five elements must be established to prove unjust enrichment:
1. An enrichment;
2. An impoverishment;
3. A connection between the enrichment and the impoverishment;
4. Absence of a justification for the enrichment and impoverishment; and
5. An absence of a remedy provided by law.


Does the lack of a cable subscription here really constitute impoverishment? Valgard has for many months had no cable subscription. It is not as though he found the cable stream, and for that reason chose not to subscribe. The cable company was getting no money, and had no apparent prospect of getting any money in this case. To my mind, this makes it difficult to prove "impoverishment," but I have no idea what standards must be met for impoverishment to be established.

IANAL. IANAAC (American Citizen).

That said, seems pretty clear to me. If Valgard unplugs the cable from his TV and leaves it unplugged, he's not receiving a service. Therefore, no impoverishment. If he yanks out the rest of the cable, then same deal.

If he leaves it plugged in then he is accepting the service. If he were an honest, law-abiding member of the community (not saying that he isn't or making a judgment, just trying to think how a court would look at it) then he would normally pay for a service that he uses. Therefore, at that point, he's impoverishing the cable company to the tune of $X per month.

All that said, I'd advise keeping quiet about the discovery. If he doesn't want cable, then drawing attention to its presence will only open him up for a bill and a fight. If he does want cable, calling up and asking them to connect him will give him a credible defence if (or, it seems, when) they do try to bill him. I don't know how it works over there, but I believe that companies can credit blacklist you without a court judgment. Even if that's not the case, who wants to phone queue, write and possibly go to court?

dqa
04-01-2004, 08:30 AM
Lack of cable is to be impoverished as to the cable.I could have been clearer in my post. I was questioning whether lack of a cable subscription from
Valgard by itself impoverishes the cable company, even though they had had no subscription from him in the past, and it appears from the facts on hand unlikely he would subscribe in the future. When Valgard hooks up his TV, he immediately enriches himself. But that action does not appear to change anything for the cable company, which was sending the signal the whole time - if that's impoverishment, it's self-inflicted.

Here (http://law.kub.nl/ejcl/51/art51-1.html#par312) is a brief discussion on impoverishment in Scottish law:Thus, if in heating my home, I provide some heat to my neighbour, I cannot sue him for the amount by which he is enriched, for I have suffered no loss: I would have heated my house in any event....
Impoverishment may take the form of loss of money, property, or the expending of time and labour.I realize a one could argue that this situation is slightly different since the "impoverished" party is a provider of a service, not a consumer who simply has purchased an abundance of service.

Also, I found that in some countries such as Germany, unjust enrichment need not have impoverishment to be actionable. Even if the other party came out even or ahead through some odd circumstances, the first party can still be liable for unjust enrichment. However, in my amateur view the Scottish example more closely resembles American law as laid out at that NDSU site.

Bromley
04-01-2004, 08:58 AM
Impoverishment may take the form of loss of money . . . .

I suspect that that's your answer. If Valgard uses the service, then the fact that he would not have used the service if it had not been present is (to me) irrelevant.

It's like the whole IP issue and standard pirate argument. Say that I would not normally buy a game at 29.95. So, logically, if I download it for free from a warez server, the developers and publishers lose nothing as I wouldn't have bought it anyway. In fact, they may even make money as I might be disposed to purchase future products by them (yeah, right :) ).

I think that most people, including most of those that do it, can see that this is wrong (even if they choose to still do it anyway).

The counter argument that in the warez case the person had to actively look for and download the software, whereas in the cable case it's already there is not valid. You would still have to physically plug the cable and change the channels to watch it, so it's not like they're beaming it directly into you head a la Fururama.

dqa
04-01-2004, 09:20 AM
I don't think it's as clear as Bromley suggests.

As previously mentioned, if you receive a package unsolicited in the US mail, you're free to open it, plug it in, modify it, throw it out, whatever you want, with no legal obligation to the sender.

Another parallel situation is an athletic event. If I walk by a small stadium, I'm free to stand at the fence and watch the action without buying a ticket. I can also bring binoculars, or climb on my uncle's shoulders, or sit a folding chair on the roof of my van to do this. If the folks running the stadium don't like it, they can build the wall higher, or plant trees, or whatever.

All of this addresses the morality of Valgard's situation. It may have no bearing on the legal situation, which was the question raised in the OP, and which is likely to be clarified by case law.

Honey
04-01-2004, 11:01 AM
From this (http://www.cablevision.com/index.jhtml?pageType=qa&qaType=theft) site.

What is theft of service?
Cable television theft is the illegal interception of cable programming services without the express authorization of, or payment to, a cable television system. There are two types of cable theft, passive and active. An example of Passive theft is when a potential customer moves into a home, finds the cable service is on, but does not notify the cable company. Active theft occurs when someone knowingly and willfully makes an illegal physical connection to the cable system and/or attaches or tampers with equipment to allow the receipt of unauthorized services. Active theft can occur at either a consumer or commercial level. Commercial theft usually happens in an environment where the proprietor receives financial gains from the illegal services (i.e. a bar or restaurant).

It looks like the cable company considers it piracy.

dqa
04-01-2004, 11:11 AM
A couple snippets of case law I just dug up (apologies for my lack of knowledge of legal citation format)
Norman Penton D/B/A Penton Studio Versus George W. Healy, IV (Louisiana)

the plaintiff has proved his entitlement to recover under quantum meruit. Furthermore, the plaintiff has shown that the defendant has been enriched by the value of the plaintiff's photographs; that the plaintiff has been impoverished to the extent of his direct and indirect costs; that the impoverishment was caused by the [**26] plaintiff's belief that the defendant would compensate him in a reasonable, although undefined, manner for his work; there is no other justification or cause for the plaintiff's impoverishment or the defendant's enrichment; and the plaintiff has no other remedy at law.

Ppg Industries, Inc. V. Transamerica Insurance Company (California)

The result of that would be the unjust enrichment of the insurer and the unjust impoverishment of its insured. The insurer would receive real premiums in consideration for an empty promise, and would also avoid any payment in settlement. Its insured would pay such premiums in exchange for such a promise, and would also be compelled to bear the threat and actuality of loss that a payment in settlement would have precluded. [*326]In both these cases, the impoverishment was tangible - money paid, time spent, etc, which would not have occurred had the defendant not taken its action.

Certainly, one can argue the cable company became impoverished in money and resources in maintaining the cable line and sending the signal, and even liability for the lawsuit that dmartin29 is threatening. But all of this impoverishment was already in the works. I think it will be difficult to prove to me, as the judge sitting on the bench without any legal background ;) , that Valgard is responsible for this impoverishment.

Hopefully more legally trained minds can set me straight on this.

TellMeI'mNotCrazy
04-01-2004, 11:13 AM
Just because it's there doesn't mean it's yours to use, does it? I mean, if I leave my cellphone at your house accidentally, you don't have a legal right to use my cellphone as much as you want, just because I accidentally left it there. It's one thing for a company to actively mail you something you didn't request, addressed to you, clearly intended for you, and then never to bill you. It's another for you to use something that clearly was never intended for your (free) use.

Although, I do disagree with the "Al Capone left his money in the house" analagoy... He sold me the house the way it is, I'm keeping the money.

If I found a broken doorknob after purchase, he isn't going to come back and fix it for me, is he? ;)

dqa
04-01-2004, 11:43 AM
I have an answer to the OP. It lies not the concept of unjust enrichment in common law and derived case law - where I still think I'm right, but I hope a lawyer will render their opinion.

Rather, Valgard's action is specifically criminalized by statute (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/casecode/uscodes/47/chapters/5/subchapters/v-a/parts/iv/sections/section_553.html).
United States Code, Title 47, Chapter 5, Subchapter V-A, Part IV, Section 553

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.

Acsenray
04-01-2004, 12:00 PM
I don't think this kind of thing is going to be pursued under a tort concept like unjust enrichment. There is most probably a state law prohibiting such activity. For example, in the chapter on "Stealing and Related Offenses" in Missouri statute, Mo. Rev. Stat.

Acsenray
04-01-2004, 12:05 PM
I don't think this kind of thing is going to be covered by a tort concept like unjust enrichment. Most likely there is a state law prohibiting it.

For example, in Missouri statutes, in the chapter on "Stealing and Related Offenses" there is a crime called "Theft of Cable Service." Under this provision, Mo. Rev. Stat. Section 570.300(3), it is a crime to "knowingly connect[] to, tamper[] with or otherwise interfere[] with any cables, wires or other devices used for the distribution of cable television if the effect of such action is to obtain cable television without paying all lawful compensation therefor."

So, even though the cable is in your house, it seems to me (in Missouri, anyway), if you hook it up to your television and you find that you're getting the signal, then you are stealing cable because the effect is that you are obtaining service without paying for it.

I haven't yet been able to track down an equivalent in California law.

Drum God
04-01-2004, 12:35 PM
We rented a house in a rural area outside of a larger town. We were in a neighborhood, but the houses were actually some distance apart. We never saw or spoke to any neighbors. Since we worked in a different town, we were never there to socialize with them or anything. Our friends lived in another town (where no rental property was then available).

Anyway, upon moving in, I plugged the TV into the cable outlet just to see what was there. Sure enough, there was service. I knew the service was not coming from the dominant cable service (TimeWarner) because the channels bore no resemblance to the advertised listings for TimeWarner. None of the channels identified the name of the cable company. I looked in the phone book and there were several companies (and I later discovered that none of those were the one that served our neighborhood). I assumed that the cable would eventually disappear when the previous tenant's subscription expired. I admit that I did not turn over every rock trying to find the cable company, but I did try.

Well, the service never died. We had cable service for about a year. Then, apparently some other subscriber requested service, or something, so the cable company came out and looked at the pedestal. We got a polite letter from the cable company telling us that service would be disconnected on such-and-such date. If we would like to subscribe, we should call before that date and set up an account. I called them, set up an account, and everyone was happy.

lawboy
04-01-2004, 01:22 PM
I haven't yet been able to track down an equivalent in California law. I've been having trouble finding equivalent statutes in any jurisdiction, except the ones already posted (then again, I'm lazy).

Passive cable theft isn't a crime per se, at least not at all what the cable companies contemplate. Passivity implies lack of intent to steal cable, as demonstrated by the OP. Now that he knows, is he going to get paid for his time auditing the cable company(ies)'s records? To continue receiving cable in this fashion may not be moral, but it's not clear that it's illegal.

IMHO, neither the Fed or the MS law cited is particularly good law. It does not account for the special circumstances (the technology inherent within cable tv) or lack of proactive duties (all the stories of doing nothing when it comes to disconnect) or the history of the cable companies (particularly the monopolistic environment in which they thrive). Note: these loosely based ideas are more grumblings than any real anaylsis, however:

The law does not contemplate other real life circumstances:

a) situations where people call the cable company to disconnect, and it never happens. Should the cable companies now have the full force of the law, years down the road to extort maximum fines and penalties?

b) situations in multi-unit/single unit dwellings where antennae access and cable access are one and the same? I've known tons of people, particularly in the city, but this happened at my folks' home, too, where cable is running through the antennae, and by using the antennae to get publicly broadcasted channels, you get cable for free. My parents switched over to satellite, called to cancel, and it was never shut off. Then, the local cable company got bought out, and they started getting better, higher tiered service. Now, my dad can watch satellite, and tape my mom's shows at the same time.

How is the OP's situation different from someone throwing seed on your fertile soil, and telling you that if you reap what you sow, you have to pay the man?

How is the OP's situation different when a salmon farm's fish swim into his pond or lake?

Or any situation where something is left or delivered to the wrong property, but for the act of delivery, it cannot be recovered? Is the receiver automatically forced into a contract?

In other words, the law seems to be too in favor of the cable companies.

I don't have an answer, just opinion and conjecture.

TellMeI'mNotCrazy
04-01-2004, 01:30 PM
How is the OP's situation different from someone throwing seed on your fertile soil, and telling you that if you reap what you sow, you have to pay the man?

How is the OP's situation different when a salmon farm's fish swim into his pond or lake?

Or any situation where something is left or delivered to the wrong property, but for the act of delivery, it cannot be recovered? Is the receiver automatically forced into a contract?



OK by this logic, if you drop your wallet on my property, then I can rightfully use the contents of that wallet. Cash, credit cards, etc. Because it's not MY fault you dropped it there. Why should I be burdened with returning it to you? Aside from any ethical or moral reasons, do I have a legal obligation to a) return you the wallet or b) refrain from making use of its contents? It's not any less legal for me to use your credit card, *knowing* that it is not my credit card, regardless of whether I pick it from your pocket or find it in my bushes.

TellMeI'mNotCrazy
04-01-2004, 01:33 PM
Sorry, fix that to say "it's not any less illegal"

Acsenray
04-01-2004, 01:37 PM
Passive cable theft isn't a crime per se, at least not at all what the cable companies contemplate.

Whether it's a crime per se in the literal sense really seems to me to be besides the point. Either it's illegal or not (under either federal or state statute). Obviously, the cable company itself is going to puff its own Web site up to the maximum extent, which is why I haven't bothered to look there for the right answer.

Passivity implies lack of intent to steal cable, as demonstrated by the OP. Now that he knows, is he going to get paid for his time auditing the cable company(ies)'s records?

This is a stretch, to put it mildly. Time involved? I doubt it's going to be worth much. At the very least, it seems to me, that under the Missouri statute he has a duty to unhook the television from the cable line, or report his roommate for stealing cable.

To continue receiving cable in this fashion may not be moral, but it's not clear that it's illegal.

It's only unclear because we here don't have an encyclopaedic knowledge of state statutes. Either it's illegal under statutory law or it isn't. It isn't a philosophical matter, that's for sure.

IMHO, neither the Fed or the MS law cited is particularly good law.

"MS" is Mississippi. I cited Missouri law. See, this is why I think we should do away with those stupid two-letter postal abbreviations.

It does not account for the special circumstances (the technology inherent within cable tv) or lack of proactive duties (all the stories of doing nothing when it comes to disconnect) or the history of the cable companies (particularly the monopolistic environment in which they thrive). Note: these loosely based ideas are more grumblings than any real anaylsis, however:

Yeah, it's really just grumbling. Because in real life it's not that much of a hardship to refrain from hooking into an unpaid-for cable line or calling up to ask for a legitimate subscription.

The law does not contemplate other real life circumstances:

I haven't seen it demonstrated that a prosecutor or a court is going to come down hard against a genuinely innocent home-occupier in such cases. Isn't this all a bit overwrought?

DeVena
04-01-2004, 02:00 PM
OK related question...

We switched cable companies about 8 years ago and signed up for 3 premium channels. When they converted us, we had 4 premium channels. So I called the new cable guy and said that we didn't order HBO, please disconnect it. They apologized profusely and said they'd fix it.

4 years later, we started having freaky interference and had to have the cable guy visit. While he was in the house, I pointed out that we didn't pay for HBO, but it had never been disconnected. He said that we were the only house on the street that had premium channels but not HBO. He could disconnect it, but it was easier for him to just let us slide... something about filters and climbing up to the box, whatever.

So last year, we cancelled all premium channels. I pointed out that we got HBO along with the channels we paid for and would they please take that off too.

So now... Expanded Basic only - no premium channels - and we still get HBO.

At what point is it their problem, not mine? I don't want to get hit with 8 years of monthly fees.

Left Hand of Dorkness
04-01-2004, 03:04 PM
OK by this logic, if you drop your wallet on my property, then I can rightfully use the contents of that wallet. Cash, credit cards, etc. Because it's not MY fault you dropped it there. Why should I be burdened with returning it to you? Aside from any ethical or moral reasons, do I have a legal obligation to a) return you the wallet or b) refrain from making use of its contents? It's not any less legal for me to use your credit card, *knowing* that it is not my credit card, regardless of whether I pick it from your pocket or find it in my bushes.

Not a bit. If I drop my wallet in your property, then it's possible for you to return my lost goods to me via a very simple and painless transaction.

If I beam my cable signal into your house, there's absolutely no way for you to return my lost goods to me. You can't pick up the cable signal and hand it back to me. Once I've sent it to you, it's irrecovably lost to me; the only question then is whether anyone will benefit from it.

I therefore don't see this as unjust enrichment. Sure, I'm impoverished by the amount that it cost me to send you the cable signal; sure, you're enriched by the amount of entertainment you get from watching it. But there's not a direct connection. If you don't watch the cable, then I'm still impoverished; if you watch it 24 hours a day, then I'm still impoverished. The amount by which you're enriched has nothing to do with the amount by which I'm impoverished, in other words.

The other statutes mentioned may apply, but I can't see how this one would.

Incidentally, four years ago I had a somewhat similar situation. I moved into a new apartment and discovered that the cable guy had left a note on the counter. "Hi!" it said. "I'm going to go ahead and leave the cable on. Call me within a couple weeks if you want me to leave it on, or else I'll come by to turn it off." When I moved out six months later, I still had cable, though I'd never called him. Not my fault, I thought, that his sales technique needed work.

Daniel

lawboy
04-01-2004, 03:04 PM
OK by this logic, if you drop your wallet on my property, then I can rightfully use the contents of that wallet. Cash, credit cards, etc. Because it's not MY fault you dropped it there. Why should I be burdened with returning it to you? Aside from any ethical or moral reasons, do I have a legal obligation to a) return you the wallet or b) refrain from making use of its contents? It's not any less legal for me to use your credit card, *knowing* that it is not my credit card, regardless of whether I pick it from your pocket or find it in my bushes. Um, no, it's a bit different. If you want to convert the chattel to your property, then there are requirements, usually by statute to do such. If you don't want to tell anybody, but then, make no use of it, that's different -- you needn't tell anyone. If the chattel holder comes on your property looking for it, then you have to let him look for it (and pretty much have to give it to him to avoid the notion that you are going to covert it later.) There are already laws for credit card fraud and identify theft in place.

However, this situation is different from cable tv b/c of the technology involved. [I would make an analogy between MP3s and file swapping, but don't get me started.] Unlike the wallet, delivery of cable service directly to your home automatically creates a conversion (see my first sentence in my third to last paragraph). The OP doesn't have the option of gathering all the previously delivered cable and giving it back to Cable Company. What's he supposed to do, tape everything and hand back tapes? No, he's forced into a contract, required to pay back rates, and on top of that, fines because the cable company didn't do its job in the first place. If you believe the cable company's reasoning, then, by your example, the wallet was found in the OP's tool shed eight years later, then the OP would have to pay 8 years of interest, and go to jail for the state's version of conversion of chattel.

lawboy
04-01-2004, 03:41 PM
Whether it's a crime per se in the literal sense really seems to me to be besides the point. Either it's illegal or not (under either federal or state statute). From my studies on this subject (something I do sometimes on my down time, who knows I may write a law review article), it was the FCC who garbled this whole thing up. On top of that, the Cable Companeis are partly to blame b/c of the hard cost it takes to undo all those illegal hook-ups. The cable companies are really giant redistributors and one giant billing mechanism. A large majority of the field work is outsourced (third party contractors, indie contractors, other cable companies, phone people, etc.); obviously, unions don't help either. It's much easier to leave up service then to actually do the work, thinking that most people will call in right away, rather than wait 2 weeks for the cable guy to come out. Or, bill them later when they conduct an audit. Not that I'm accusing anyone of anything...(so no cite, except personal experience of no one unhooking anything). This is a stretch, to put it mildly. Time involved? I doubt it's going to be worth much. At the very least, it seems to me, that under the Missouri statute he has a duty to unhook the television from the cable line, or report his roommate for stealing cable.Easier said than done. My friend's house is newly built and all cables are completely underground. He has the same set up as my parents: he needs to use the antennae to get regular tv. What is he supposed to do? Dig up his own yard? Illegally open the box and unplug his house? Besides, isn't our duty in zealous representation to stretch when needed, and closely crop the facts, conversely?:)"MS" is Mississippi. I cited Missouri law. See, this is why I think we should do away with those stupid two-letter postal abbreviations. D'oh :smack: Should be MO, I type too fast. Yeah, it's really just grumbling. Because in real life it's not that much of a hardship to refrain from hooking into an unpaid-for cable line or calling up to ask for a legitimate subscription. What if you don't want it and it's already there? What about the monopolistic practices by the cable companies? What about the easement on my property I provide so that the cable companies can dig their line? Where I live, you can only choose from one cable provider. There are three (4?) in my area. I've dealt with two of them, and I only like 1 of them. If I move, I'm forced to take one of the other ones. I've talked to many people at the CC that I like, and they pretty much told me that they are unable to enter the any other region b/c of Comcast. However, with my home phone, I can have the regional bell company or I can have crap-ass Verizon home. Again, more grumblings. The more important question is: if the CC isn't going to do anything about it, why should I?I haven't seen it demonstrated that a prosecutor or a court is going to come down hard against a genuinely innocent home-occupier in such cases. Isn't this all a bit overwrought?My sister, my parents, and some people I know all got angry letters saying that they have illegal cable (from AT&T and Comcast), and they are to cease and desist. I'll skip the theatrics, but they're all baseless. I'm more upset at the bullying than anything. If I wasn't an attorney, my dad might have hired someone expensive like you (;)) to make sure he was compliant. There are other costs to consider, like the costs of trying to not go to court. So, no, I don't think this is overwrought.

barbitu8
04-01-2004, 03:51 PM
However, this situation is different from cable tv b/c of the technology involved. [I would make an analogy between MP3s and file swapping, but don't get me started.] Unlike the wallet, delivery of cable service directly to your home automatically creates a conversion (see my first sentence in my third to last paragraph). The OP doesn't have the option of gathering all the previously delivered cable and giving it back to Cable Company. What's he supposed to do, tape everything and hand back tapes? No, he's forced into a contract, required to pay back rates, and on top of that, fines because the cable company didn't do its job in the first place. If you believe the cable company's reasoning, then, by your example, the wallet was found in the OP's tool shed eight years later, then the OP would have to pay 8 years of interest, and go to jail for the state's version of conversion of chattel.I don't think anyone is stating that the OP is liable for the previously potentially deliverable cable (which he had no knowledge of and, consequently, did not use), but the issue is whether he has a duty to inform the cable company once he acquires knowledge.

The wallet is not a good analogy. That is a physical object with a definite existence, whereas the cable is an ongoing service. The same with the seed and fish. Cable is a service, not an object.

TellMeI'mNotCrazy Although, I do disagree with the "Al Capone left his money in the house" analagoy... He sold me the house the way it is, I'm keeping the money.

If I found a broken doorknob after purchase, he isn't going to come back and fix it for me, is he? [/quote] The purchaser has the duty to inspect the house, so, unless otherwise provided, he isn't, but a wallet containing money is not part of the house. It is not realty in any sense of the word. It is not real estate or a chattel real. It has nothing to do with "the house the way it is."

DSYoungEsq
04-01-2004, 04:01 PM
Ok, I was going to stay out of this, but it's beginning to get to the point of silly.

1. You move to a residence that is wired for cable. Previous owners had the service turned on. When they moved, for whatever reason, service was not disconnected. You don't hook up your TV, not aware that the signal is flowing. Have you done anything wrong? Of course not. No unjust enrichment.

2. You move in, and on your first day in the new residence, on a lark, you hook up your TV and find out that the basic service is still connected. You call the cable company, tell them you don't want cable, and they come out and shut it off. Have you done anything wrong? No.

3. You move in, hook up, see the service running, and call the company and ask for cable service, whereupon the company starts billing you the monthly fee for basic. Have you done anything wrong? No.

4. You move in, hook up, see the service running, and don't call the company, figuring, what the heck, why not watch the good stuff? After a year, they come looking for you, having discovered that you have a television hooked up, and you cheerfully admit to using the service for a year (this helps avoid proof problems). Have you done anything wrong? Yes. Will you be charged? Yes. Will the company be able to enforce this through civil court action? Likely. Will there be potential criminal charges? Possibly (in Missouri, the answer by statute is yes). You have received a benefit, for which you should have paid. The fact that the signal was incoming already through the failure of the cable company to turn it off is irrelevant. The choice to hook up and not call the company was yours.

Murky areas would be: you call the company and report the service is still on, they don't do anything about it. In Missouri, it wouldn't make any difference according to the cited statute; Missouri puts the onus on the receiving end not to use something of value without paying for it. Other states might view it otherwise, though in the end, let's face it, the final decision was yours for tapping into a signal you knew you hadn't paid for, and which you have to take an overt action to receive. Differentiate from this the situation where you ask for a premium service to be turned off, and it isn't. Also, I suppose one could devise a scenario whereby the new resident didn't realize cable was being received; furnished apartment, TV already hooked up, nothing to denote a cable signal. Pretty far-fetched.

I never quite understand the mentality that says a person should be able to get away with getting something for nothing. Of course, the OP confined the question to the legality, so I won't address morality. But those who want to try and twist a way out of legal liability for use of something valuable are simply dreaming. The law understands that we each of us bear responsibility for our actions.

Having said all that, let's look at the practical side to situation number 4. In the absence of someone admitting to the time frame of the theft, how in the world would it be proven? I suppose police with a warrant could search for videotape of shows cabled in the past year, in an attempt to establish the minimum time hooked up, but I doubt anyone would bother. In Missouri, of course, you'd still be liable for one day's theft; the statute doesn't appear to address time factor. In such a state, your best bet would be, don't do it. Of course, the moral answer is (or should be) obvious. :)

I'm not sure quite what lawboy sees as so hard about this. No digging involved; just don't hook the coax from the TV to that little bump in the wall. Duh.

lawboy
04-01-2004, 04:03 PM
...He could disconnect it, but it was easier for him to just let us slide... something about filters and climbing up to the box, whatever.

So last year, we cancelled all premium channels. I pointed out that we got HBO along with the channels we paid for and would they please take that off too.

So now... Expanded Basic only - no premium channels - and we still get HBO.

At what point is it their problem, not mine? I don't want to get hit with 8 years of monthly fees. From what I understand of premium cable (mind you this is 2002 info), you cannot easily subtract HBO from the rest of the premium service. The basic cable is on a lower tier, as mandated by the FCC (1992 act, I forgot the full name) and, the rest of it is on a higher tier(s). The filter is done at the box. It makes more sense to let you slide, b/c it's more of a cost, in this case, it seems, to the installer (3rd party contractor most likely), so that he could free time to get more installs done. From what I know, all filters are pretty crappy, and depending on what channels fall on the tier(s), those channels are going to come in the crappiest, unless you have service with no filters.

Depending on the law in this matter (if any), I would say that you responded in a reasonable manner. But, who of us are going to log phone calls, and keep correspondence, to ensure that we successfully communicated our intent to not have cable?

TellMeI'mNotCrazy
04-01-2004, 04:05 PM
I
TellMeI'mNotCrazy Although, I do disagree with the "Al Capone left his money in the house" analagoy... He sold me the house the way it is, I'm keeping the money.

If I found a broken doorknob after purchase, he isn't going to come back and fix it for me, is he? The purchaser has the duty to inspect the house, so, unless otherwise provided, he isn't, but a wallet containing money is not part of the house. It is not realty in any sense of the word. It is not real estate or a chattel real. It has nothing to do with "the house the way it is."[/QUOTE]


Just for the record, I was just being a smartass on this point, thus the ;)

Although I still *like* the idea of coming across 50k of mob moolah ;)

Sarcastro
04-01-2004, 04:10 PM
From this (http://www.cablevision.com/index.jhtml?pageType=qa&qaType=theft) site.

It looks like the cable company considers it piracy.

They can consider it until they're blue in the face, but it's not up to them to decide. What matters is what the law says (and it happens to support them in this case, but if it didn't, their guidebook wouldn't matter any more than it does now). The cable conglomerates don't write the laws directly (yet).

Rex Fenestrarum
04-01-2004, 04:18 PM
I had an appartment in college. We moved in in June, hooked our TV up to rabbit ears (broke that we were) and watched some fuzzy network TV. In the fall, when when my roommate and I both finally found jobs, we decided to get cable. The guy came out, and told us the cable had been on all this time (including a full range of premium channels).

We replied we had no idea, we'd never hooked it up. The guy insisted we were getting illegal cable. We repeated that we'd never plugged the line in-- why in God's name would we call and order cable if we already had it free? It seems they never turned it off after the last tenant left.

One month later, we got a bill for $300, most of it labeled past due (on our brand new account, which they back dated to June). It took months for me to get it fixed.

Beware of calling your cable company.

See, this is why I just wouldn't bother. I had cable internet with AT&T Broadband. I purchased the cable modem from them for $150 (I was so pissed at BellSloth DSL at that moment I would have bought the modem for $500 just to spite BS). Anyway, when I moved I returned the digital cable box and considered the matter done. So then AT&T starts sending me bills for $300 - $150 for the modem, $100 as a "failure to return property" penalty and a $50 "processing fee". It honestly took me something on the order of 15 phone calls and 4 letters to get this all straightened out. I finally have a letter from Comcast (who bought AT&T) saying that I DO NOT in fact owe them anything.

Not that this makes "cable theft" right - I'm just saying dealing with a faceless corporation is usually more hassle than it's worth.

Acsenray
04-01-2004, 04:25 PM
But, who of us are going to log phone calls, and keep correspondence, to ensure that we successfully communicated our intent to not have cable?

And who seriously believes that anyone has to do this? Fortunately, DSYoungEsq has said succinctly and clearly what I've been trying to say all along. (Thanks.)

If you're getting cable that you didn't order, call the cable company and tell them. If they still don't cut it off, don't plug your TV in unless you get a legit subscription. It's that simple. All those dire consequences you speak of seem pretty farfetched to me and fairly easily worked out even if you do get a love letter from the cable company.

There are plenty of bad things about the cable company, Lawboy, and I won't disagree with any of your criticisms. But it seems pretty simple to me that the answer is not to go ahead and use the service without informing the cable company.

(The answer is of course to re-regulate the cable industry -- compel them to allow competitors to use their lines, set pricing caps on service, and require a la carte service on a channel-by-channel basis. But that's besides the point.)

lawboy
04-01-2004, 04:31 PM
No unjust enrichment. I will agree with Ascenray. Unjust enrichment probably won't factor into this scenario. There should be a statute (unwise and biased as it might be) or not (however, needed it might be).I'm not sure quite what lawboy sees as so hard about this. No digging involved; just don't hook the coax from the TV to that little bump in the wall. Duh.No offense taken! Like i said, what about those scenarios where antennae access and cable access are one and the same? That is, I cannot use the antennae without getting cable? (Which, technically, means I'm not using the antennae. It's bad enough I give an easement to the cable company on my yard, do I have to give them access to my walls, too? Oh, and I just contacted one of my buddies from law school to check my facts, and he swears that in his condo in Chicago, he doesn't have to plug anything in, and he gets cable. His theory is that there is so much bad wiring and so much cable going around, that his antennae picks up the signal. I still think this is wrong, but assuming that it's not, how does this scenario play? I think you could guess what my argument would be.

DSYoungEsq
04-01-2004, 04:47 PM
In all my travels, in all the different places I have lived, apartment, house, etc., I have never seen the place where the cable and the antenna are hooked up together in some underground hideaway secret from all. After all, the cable people don't like digging any more than you do.

If, and I emphasize the highly unlikely possibility of it being true, someone actually receives through their regular access to an external television antenna cable signal, with no access to the place where the cable and antenna are merged, I would consider it likely you could offer that fact as a defense to the assertion you had stolen the signal. As stated, I think it more a hypothetical offered by someone who simply has an axe to grind, or a mis-statement of fact by someone who can't admit to the truth.

aaelghat
04-01-2004, 05:15 PM
I just have a story to add. One of my friends has never owned a television at all. Her parents didn't have one in the house when she was growing up and she prefers reading and outdoor activities.

She moved into a townhouse (sans television) and after three years she received a letter from the cable company informing her that they discovered that she had been receiving a cable television signal and she'd need to pay back fines, etc.

She pointed out that she didn't have a television, so how was she supposed to know that she was receiving a cable television signal? The cable company said, "prove to us you don't have a television".

From her standpoint she didn't have a TV, she never entered into a contract with the cable company, and yet they were putting the burden on her to prove that she didn't steal cable television. The only way she could prove she didn't own a television to the CC's satisfaction was to allow them to come into her house.

As a matter of principle and safety, she didn't want to let the cable company personnel into her house (imagine making an appointment, being inconvenienced, and letting a stranger into your house, just to prove to someone else you're not stealing), but she just wanted to get the matter over and done with.

When the cable guy was in her house he initially accused her of just recently removing the TV, but she pointed out there were no indentations on the carpet near the cable outlet, and in the end the CC dropped the matter.

I don't know what the law is, but in this case I think the conduct of the CC was outrageous. The burden of proof should be on them, not her and ideally she should have been able to get some compensation from the cable company for her lost time and aggravation.

Dag Otto
04-01-2004, 05:35 PM
I'm not sure quite what lawboy sees as so hard about this. No digging involved; just don't hook the coax from the TV to that little bump in the wall. Duh.

Why can't I hook the coax from the TV to that little bump in the wall? It's my wall, and my bump in the wall. The cable company's ownership of the cable, like any utility, ends somewhere outside of the building, and my ownership begins after that.

Of course, the other utilities are pretty good about starting and stopping service, because they are actually delivering a product such as water, electricity, or gas that cost money to provide. Illegal hookups cost them money, and so they keep on top of things. Now, consider the cable company: Providing the service (to an additional house) doesn't really cost anything once the connection is made, and they only have so much manpower to make service calls (and that is their choice, they could hire more people but they don't). So does the cable company put it's efforts into hooking up new customers which will provide a revenue stream, or disconnecting old customers which doesn't provide a revenue stream, and doesn't cost anything if they don't disconnect? Sure, they concentrate on hooking up the new customers. If they don't spend much effort on disconnects though, they shouldn't be surprised if the next occupant uses the service.

Providing that the person doesn't actually go out and connect the cable at the point of connection, then this is a problem that the cable companies creates.

mhendo
04-01-2004, 05:43 PM
It seems to me that DSYoungEsq's possible scenarios require an additional one, to wit:

5. You move in, hook up, see the service running, realize that you should not be getting free cable, and unhook. But you also decide that it's not your problem, and that you'll be damned if you're going to take the time to tell the cable company to fix its own mistake, especially when you've heard stories on the SDMB about cable companies trying to charge people for service they never received (see aaelghat's most recent post for a particularly egregious example).

In this case, the company still has an active line, and so is still theoretically suffering from impoverishment, but because you don't use the line you get no enrichment from it.

Is the legal burden on the OP simply to avoid using the cable. Or does he actually have an obligation to tell the company about the signal, whether or not he makes use of it.

And a technical question related to this:

If you are in the OP's situation, with a cable signal running through what should be a dead line, is there any way for the cable company to tell whether or not that cable is actually plugged into a receiving device?

Bag of Mostly Water
04-01-2004, 06:00 PM
When we moved into our house, there was a coax running from the pole to a logical location for a TV. I had no interest in cable and never even bothered to connect it to a TV. Some time later, I decided the TV would be better in another location. So I pushed the coax into the wall.

A few years later, we found out roof rats were getting into the attic through the hole where the coax entered the house. I asked the cable company (TCI then, I think) to remove the cable so I could seal the hole. They refused and said "it was my house." My interpretation was that I could remove the drop if I so wished. So, I put cut the cable about 6" beyond where it left the strand, pulled the entire length from my house, and sealed the problematic hole.

A few years after that, I get a visit from a cable company representative (AT&T by this time). He informs me that the signal was never shut off and I have been receiving free cable for around ten years. However, if I agree to subscribe now, they will let the whole thing drop and only charge me going forward. I explain that the CATV drop was removed years ago with their permission and I have no interest in cable TV. He proceeds to explain that while stealing cable is a crime, it is common -- he even knows a few cops who stole service. Given it wasn't my fault, they wouldn't file any charges. Just subscribe now, etc.

I finally told he to go check the drop in and verify the house does not have service. At this point he gives up and I have not heard from them since. I still use an antenna in the attic and get receive five or six channels very poorly. We mostly watch tapes and DVDs.

Full disclosure notice: I work for a company that supplies CATV equipment. Yes, I work in the CATV industry and have no interest in watching cable channels. Deal with it.

kanicbird
04-01-2004, 06:20 PM
I had a simular but not exactly the same situation. I moved in and was using the rabbit ears to get a signal. All was well and good till the cable co sent up a letter asking us to subscribe w/o an instalation charge since the former owner had cable. It also said if we don't subscribe and we are receiving their service we can continue to enjoy till they cut it off. I though I'd see what would happend if I hook up my TV to that coax, presto cable TV, and totally free acording to the letter.

It took them 3 years to cut it off :D

Seamonkey
04-01-2004, 11:57 PM
Mr. Seamonkey has worked in the CATV industry for over 20 years. This is what he says about your situation: Moral implications aside, just keep doing what your doing. He says the only way the CC would know you have working cable is if they were to do an audit in your area. They would simply cut you off, then sic a salesman on you to try to sell you services. It is the burden of the CC to prove you were actually using the services and you are under no obligation to let them access your home.

He says if you have had cable for the last 18 months with no contact from the CC, more than likely they are not big on audits in your area. If they were to audit and cut you off, and you declined services, it would be likely that they would tag your connection, and check occasionaly to see if it was re-connected. If it was re-connected without a work order, then the poop hits the fan.

CC's are more interested in getting you to sign up in the first place, more money for them in the long haul.

So in short, if you enjoy having cable on the house, go for it. If not, then dis-connect.

(ps - he travels the US doing audits for the Big 3.)

Disclaimer: the Seamonkey household, in no way, form or fashion condone the steeling of cable services.

mks57
04-02-2004, 03:27 AM
If you are in the OP's situation, with a cable signal running through what should be a dead line, is there any way for the cable company to tell whether or not that cable is actually plugged into a receiving device?

With the proper equipment, such as a time domain reflectometer (TDR), they can tell if the cable terminates in an open circuit, or if there is something attached to the end of the cable that provides a terminating impedance, such as a cable box or TV set.

BottledBlondJeanie
04-02-2004, 09:59 AM
lawboy I again urge you to read my old pit thread regarding potential ethical violations on legal opinions on a message board. I think it holds true for both law students and lawyers. And, I won't even get into what your opinions mean if you aren't a lawyer yet representing yourself as one on a message board.

Dolphin
04-05-2004, 09:29 PM
IANAL, but my friends had a similar experience with cable (except they were actually guilty).

One of two roomates ordered cablemodem, and, upon finding it didn't work correctly, plugged it into a TV (and sure enough, got cable). He called the cable company, they fixed the cablemodem signal, but out of curiosity they checked the cable signal again -- and realized that with a $5 splitter from Radio Shack, they could get both cablemodem and cable off the same line.

About four and a half years later, a cable repairman was servicing cable for the apartment next door -- and noticed that their cable was on.

The repairman knocked on my friends' door and confronted them about having an active cable signal. They feigned ignorance ("no, we don't have cable, all we have is a cablemodem") and the cable portion of the signal was switched off. Amusingly, while they were talking with the repairman at the door, the cable TV was TURNED ON IN THE BACKGROUND. They cringed every time the announcer said, "You're watching ESPN ..."

So, in answer to various posters:

(1) Yes, they can tell if your cable is plugged in -- they can even differentiate between a cable and cablemodem signal.

(2) Yes, it is quite possible to be guilty and still evade punishment. But I'd bet there are as many people who get caught as there are people who don't.

Thingol
04-05-2004, 09:56 PM
Write to the Cable Co. and claim They have infringed on your privacy, safety and discression....
dmartin is not getting the credit he deserves here. If your goal is cya, this is entirely the way to go. Go ballistic on their asses. I'd fall short of threatening to take action in the first contact, and for God's sake don't mention any non-existant relatives or make any contrary-to-fact assertions, but at least make sure you cc everybody from the BBB to the FCC to your local newspaper (which undoubtedly won't print anything unless you live in the boondocks). Paper trail is everything! But keep in mind, if you make the play, you gotta be willing to follow through. Chances are, though, you'll get the reaction you're looking for: "Ah, Jesus, please pull the plug on this asshole and shut him the f**k up."

Don't be lulled into believing that understanding the law is sufficient.

HPD707
01-21-2014, 04:22 PM
But the cable signal hasn't been sent to you unsolicited in the mail.
Look at it another way. You buy a house from Al Capone. Inside it is $50,000 that he has made from bootlegging, but he left behind. You find the money. I have the distinct feeling that it isn't yours to keep.

Not analogous. In your hypothetical, Al Capone stole something from a third party and left it behind in your house. In the case of unsolicited cable, there is no third party or theft. Think of it this way - if I ran a maid service, entered your house unsolicited and cleaned it for you every month for a year, would I then have a legal claim against you if I later discovered I had been cleaning the wrong house because I was too stupid to keep accurate records? Nice try. Try again.

Jackmannii
01-21-2014, 04:29 PM
"Al Capone came back from the dead and installed that cable! I had nothing to do with it!"

Yeah, like that'll fly.

HPD707
01-21-2014, 04:36 PM
"Al Capone came back from the dead and installed that cable! I had nothing to do with it!"

Yeah, like that'll fly.

Who said anything about Al Capone coming back from the dead to install cable? I didn't see that anywhere. What's your point? The cable company installed the cable and they're too inept to keep accurate records of their paying customers.

Great Antibob
01-21-2014, 04:41 PM
Who said anything about Al Capone coming back from the dead to install cable?

It was a joke. This is a zombie thread (you resurrected it from the dead - it was last active 10 years ago).

runningdude
01-21-2014, 04:46 PM
...
Although, I do disagree with the "Al Capone left his money in the house" analagoy... He sold me the house the way it is, I'm keeping the money.

If I found a broken doorknob after purchase, he isn't going to come back and fix it for me, is he? ;)

Just remember; Al Capone went down for tax invasion... be sure to properly document the found cash lest you be busted too! ;)

johnpost
01-21-2014, 05:59 PM
zombie or no

is it wrong if you don't enjoy the shows?

bob++
01-21-2014, 06:15 PM
zombie or no

is it wrong if you don't enjoy the shows?

That's like saying - "It wasn't adultery because I didn't enjoy it."

Darth Panda
01-21-2014, 06:23 PM
It's not necromancy if I didn't look at the post date.

weemart
01-21-2014, 06:28 PM
How would this sort of thing affect UK TV licensing laws? Any1 know?

Sir Prize
01-21-2014, 07:07 PM
Years ago I was in a meeting at major manufacturer of cable equipment and happened to mention that I plugged the wire directly into my TV. A hush fell over the room for a second but then they said it was the cable company's responsibility to turn off the service.

usedtobe
01-21-2014, 09:39 PM
I moved into a house in 1983. It had been a student rental for the prior 10 years (yes, it did look like it).
There was a coax about 30' long coming in at the mid-point between LR and DR.

I went outside and pulled it out as far as possible.

About 2005, I hear an odd noise comingg from the front of the house. I find an ATT guy disconnecting the cable. He said something stupid about "no more free cable", but there was no hint that they would try to bill.
The way the conversation went, I think I was supposed to panic and agree to whatever terms he demanded to keep him from cutting off my can't-live-without-it TV.

When I moved in, I did not have a TV. Eventually I got one with rabbit ears - it was in the back of the house. I never thought to connect it to the cable.

UDS
01-21-2014, 10:25 PM
How would this sort of thing affect UK TV licensing laws? Any1 know?
Not legally relevant at all. In the UK, you need to have a licence for a set on which you watch broadcast television, but the mode of broadcasting - terrestrial, satellite, cable, internet - is irrelevant. Consequently connecting to or disconnecting from cable makes no difference at all to your liablity to pay for the licence.

Lord Feldon
01-21-2014, 10:33 PM
This whole situation is becoming less likely now, ten years later, because basic cable is allowed to be encrypted.

GreenElf
01-22-2014, 02:18 AM
What if the cable company is providing an extra tier of channels, or premium channels such as Showtime or HBO, that you didn't pay for? Are you legally obligated to inform them?

Hermitian
01-22-2014, 12:04 PM
This whole situation is becoming less likely now, ten years later, because basic cable is allowed to be encrypted.

Many of the channels are not.

For example, I get cable internet. I do not pay for cable TV, but I do get about 40 channels if I plug the cable into my TV. I do not think that they cable company can even do anything about this. Unless they encrypt it, they can't stop the signal from coming down the wire.

This doesn't matter much to me because I watch TV about once a year and the way the TV interprets the channels is all wacky, scattered, and slow. If I actually watched it, I would definitely want a cable box to pretty up the channel organization.