Ustream to Rebroadcast Hugo Awards

The live Hugo Awards broadcast over Ustream was cut off when an automated system detected what it classified as copyright infringement. Although Chicon 7 was authorized to use the material Ustream could not restore its feed before the end of the ceremony, inconveniencing hundreds of viewers and giving Ustream a bad odor among denizens of the internet.

To make amends for disrupting the original broadcast, Ustream is going to feature the full ceremony on its Homepage, un-edited and bot-free, Sunday, September 9, starting at 7 p.m. CT. Ustream also will run the broadcast ad-free on the Worldcon Hugo Awards channel at, and provide additional marketing and promotional support to raise the profile of the event. Thereafter the broadcast will be available on demand from the same channel.

Dave McCarty, new head of the Hugo Marketing Committee, says Ustream has also offered additional support and publicity for streaming future Hugo Award Ceremonies at the San Antonio (2013) and London (2014) Worldcons.  

After Ustream derailed the original Hugo broadcast corporate CEO Brad Hunstable apologized and also blamed Vobile, its third-party automated infringement system. However, Vobile CEO Yangbin Wang denied their technology was at the root of the problem: “Our content identification system provides customers with accurate information. Each customer must decide for itself what it does with that information.”

A comparable incident this week during the Democratic National Convention, when YouTube took down the convention livestream, brought the technological issue to the forefront, as Wired explained:

The most likely culprit is YouTube’s pre-emptive content filters, which allow large media companies to upload content they claim to own and automatically block videos that an algorithm decides matches their own. That would make the glitch the second livestream copyright-policing snafu in the span of a few days: On Sunday, a similar algorithm at uStream interrupted the livestream of the Hugo science fiction awards. The award show included clips of copyrighted videos, though the algorithm didn’t know that the clips had been authorized….

Under the DMCA, sites have to respond promptly to written DMCA requests, but as services like uStream and Google court large entertainment companies as advertisers and content partners, they’ve created systems to make blocking automatic or to allow partners to put ads on videos they claim are infringing.

The full Chicon 7 press release follows the jump.

[Via Colin Harris.]


Ustream to Re-Broadcast 2012 Hugo Awards Ceremony Sunday at 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT)

Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention,

Chicago, IL – August 30 to September 3, 2012

[email protected]

Postal queries to: Chicon 7, P.O. Box 13, Skokie, IL 60076


Friday, September 7, 2012

Chicago, Illinois, USA – Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), is pleased to announce that the 2012 Hugo Awards Ceremony will be re-broadcast in its entirety and ad-free via Ustream on Sunday, September 9, starting at 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT) at

The original live broadcast of the ceremony was interrupted on Sunday, September 2 when an automated infringement system detected content in the stream that it deemed copyright infringement. Although the material was cleared for Chicon 7 use, the feed could not be restored before the ceremony concluded, meaning that fans around the world were unable to enjoy the remainder of the show.

Ustream founder and CEO Brad Hunstable spoke directly to Chicon 7 Chairman Dave McCarty on Tuesday, September 4, and expressed his regret at the loss of the broadcast. Hunstable’s online blog post notes “Unfortunately, we were not able to lift the ban before the broadcast ended. We had many unhappy viewers as a result, and for that I am truly sorry.  As a long-time Firefly, Stargate and Game of Thrones fan among others, I am especially disheartened by this….I have suspended use of this third-party system until we are able to recalibrate the settings so that we can better balance the needs of broadcasters, viewers, and copyright holders.  While we are committed to protecting copyright, we absolutely must ensure our amazing and democratizing platform allows legal broadcasters to Ustream their events and shows.”

To makeup for the disruption to the original broadcast, Ustream will feature the full un-edited and bot-free ceremony on its Homepage this Sunday, September 9, starting at 7 p.m. CT. Ustream will also run the broadcast ad-free on the Worldcon Hugo Awards channel at, and provide additional marketing and promotional support to raise the profile of the event. The broadcast will subsequently be available from the same channel on an on-demand basis. Ustream has also offered additional support and publicity for the streaming of future Hugo Award Ceremonies for upcoming Worldcons in San Antonio, TX (2013) and London, UK (2014).

According to Dave McCarty, “this incident is just one of several that have been in the news recently, and it reflects a broader challenge faced by the industry. I welcome Brad’s personal response and his commitment to review the way in which channel suspensions are triggered and controlled. And of course, we are delighted that all science fiction fans can experience a great Hugo Awards Ceremony which celebrated the best in recent science fiction literature and media and its fans. As Chair of the Hugo Award Marketing Committee, I also look forward to building this partnership with Ustream over the coming years.”


The Hugo Awards are the premier award in the science fiction genre, honoring science fiction literature and media as well as the genre’s fans. The Hugo Awards were first presented at the 1953 World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia (Philcon II), and they have continued to honor science fiction and fantasy notables annually for nearly 60 years.

More information about the Hugo Awards, including a list of the 2012 winners, is available from


Ustream Inc. is the leader in live, and social video streaming. The interactive platform connects broadcasters and viewers of unlimited size through innovative technology including co-hosting video features, IRC chat, Facebook, and Twitter. Ustream’s free and premium solutions allow any broadcaster to create their own customizable channel with robust social and notification features to enhance visibility and virility across multiple platforms. In addition to activating the embeddable features on external websites, users are able to broadcast and view content while interacting in real-time directly from mobile phone devices, tablets, streaming players, smart TVs, and more. The company attracts millions of users ranging from music artists, celebrities, politicians, athletes, corporate executives, animal enthusiasts and gamers, all which have contributed to Ustream’s Guinness World Record for the Most Content Ingested by An Online Video Service. For more information, visit and follow Ustream’s socials: Twitter (@Ustream); Facebook (

Brad Hunstable’s personal apology for the interruption to the original Ceremony broadcast can be found at


Chicon 7 is the 2012 World Science Fiction Convention (“Worldcon”). The first Worldcon occurred in New York City in 1939 and Worldcons have been held annually since then except for 1942-45 when there was no event due to World War II. Chicon 7’s Guests of Honor were five-time Hugo winning author Mike Resnick, artist Rowena Morrill, art agent and collector Jane Frank, science fiction fan and former Worldcon chair Peggy Rae Sapienza, and astronaut Story Musgrave. Chicon 7’s Toastmaster was John Scalzi.

For more details about the convention, visit Send press questions, or requests to be removed from the Chicon 7 press release mailing list, to [email protected]. Send general queries to [email protected]. “World Science Fiction Society,” “WSFS,” “World Science Fiction Convention,” “Worldcon,” “NASFiC,” “Hugo Award,” and the distinctive design of the Hugo Award Rocket are service marks of the World Science Fiction Society, an unincorporated literary society.

3 thoughts on “Ustream to Rebroadcast Hugo Awards

  1. “Hugo Marketing Committee”?? This must be something new. Should I have been paying closer attention to WSFS business meeting minutes?

  2. The Hugo Awards Marketing Committee (originally called the Higher and Stronger Hugo Committee) has existed since 2006 when the WSFS Business Meeting instructed the WSFS Mark Protection Committee to ‘to take steps to strengthen the Hugo Award service mark by creating a more distinct and defensible visual identity for it’ by the creation of a marketing committee.

    The HAMC has been renewed by the MPC every year since 2006. The Committee is the group that created and led the effort to develop The Hugo Awards logo. In its current incarnation, the WSFS Mark Protection Committee appointed Dave McCarty to chair the HAMC for the current year.

  3. Following a link from Paul Krugman’s blog to a Slate article, I noticed that the Ustream debacle has made it onto the “Most popular on Slate” list, currently at number 5: “Sci-Fi Awards Webcast Shut Down by Rogue Copyright Bots That Refuse To Obey Human Commands”:

Comments are closed.