Hulu and Boxee are currently embroiled in a cat and mouse game of workaround followed by a fix that is likely to rumble on until the lawyers get involved. Surely common sense should prevail and Hulu should realize it is being unnecessarily harsh.

Boxee

Boxee is a free, open-source piece of software that allows PC users to access all their Web video from one central location. On top of this, it operates as a cross-platform media center that allows online video lovers to watch their favorite content on their televisions rather than their computers.

Boxee is still a work in progress but has become increasingly popular amongst people who want one solution that will enable them to watch a number of sources using one application. Mac and Linux versions of the software are now in open alpha, while a new Windows version is in closed beta.

Boxee offers a range of different content sources, from Apple movie trailers, YouTube, Blip.tv, CNN, CBS, MySpaceTV, Netflix, Revision3, MTV, Joost, and the BBC iPlayer. And until the middle of February, Hulu was also on that list.

Hulu Pulls Out

On February 19, Hulu announced its content would be disappearing from Boxee. This came just a day after Hulu content was also removed from TV.com. The reason for the move soon became clear – the cable companies weren’t happy with premium content they were paying dividends for being available on televisions via an alternative and completely free means.

At first, Boxee accepted this. After all, what else could it do in the face of the NBC and News Corps. owned site? Plenty, or so it appears. Boxee don’t seem to be going down without a fight.

RSS Workaround

On Friday morning, Boxee announced a workaround to the Hulu issue. By introducing a new built-in RSS reader optimized for video, Boxee at a stroke allowed its users to access Hulu, only this time it was via Hulu’s public RSS feeds. Simple, yet utterly effective. For a day at least.

By the end of Friday, Hulu had plugged the hole, blocking the boxee browser from accessing the Hulu site. This was also a simple, yet also utterly effective move, although a lot more underhanded. Only the Boxee browser was blocked while the likes of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Flock, and Opera were still allowed access.

But the story didn’t end there. On Saturday morning, Boxee once again claimed to have made access to Hulu possible via the Boxee app. No doubt Hulu will respond in kind and the cat and mouse game will continue ad nauseam.

Set To Run and Run?

Most people, me included, are on Boxee’s side here because Hulu’s actions seem to be borne out of nothing but spite. Hulu is a site that’s meant to be accessible by every U.S. citizen, but suddenly Boxee users aren’t good enough.

Also, RSS feeds are there purely to allow anyone to access content using whatever tool they want to. But in the case of Hulu, that clearly doesn’t extend to Boxee.

I predict this story will run and run but there can surely only be one loser – viewers who want to access their content in any way they see fit. Hulu, likely under intense pressure from content providers, clearly doesn’t want that to happen.

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