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Major Networks Suing To Stop Free Streaming 250

Posted by Soulskill
from the importing-business-model-from-the-1970s dept.
AstroPhilosopher writes "In a move similar to Hollywood's attempt to have the Supreme Court ban VCRs back in the 80's, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and Univision are set to appear in court next month to urge a New York federal judge to block Aereo. 'Aereo lets those in New York who want to watch on their iPad what they can pull down for free from the public airwaves to their TV with an antenna.' The networks, however, say Aereo will cause irreparable harm to their business. Aereo's conduct apparently causes them to 'lose control over the dissemination of their copyrighted programming, disrupts their relationships with licensed distributors and viewers and usurps their right to decide how and on what terms to make available and license content over new internet distribution media.'"
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Major Networks Suing To Stop Free Streaming

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  • by Cutting_Crew (708624) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:23PM (#39674995)
    then what difference does it make where you get it from? Maybe someone can make it clear for me exactly what their lawsuit is saying here.
    • by hodet (620484) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:28PM (#39675081)
      I assume the place shifting thing is a problem. The article mentions you rent antennas from Aero which to me would mean that you could get local area streams no matter where you live. I can already stream my own local area OTA with a Slingbox, not sure if that is also a problem for the Networks. But this seems to take it a bit far. I admit I read this quickly and may be missing something here.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:39PM (#39675273)

        Generally speaking, if someone is rebroadcasting content, they have to pay a licensing fee. A Slingbox is okay because it's your own device rebroadcasting to you--fair use. The issue against Aero is that it's Aero's device rebroadcasting to you. However, since Aero has dedicated antennas for each user, it's essentially a remote Slingbox system for freely available broadcast. Hopefully the courts will see it as such and Aero doesn't go bankrupt from fighting this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hodet (620484)
          Thanks, that clarifies things. I have a hard time believing this does not fall under Rebroadcasting rules. This company aims to profit from streaming content that they have no rights to redistribute. Free OTA content is not public domain. The content is still owned by somebody. I think its a really cool service but I don't see a snowballs chance in hell that Aereo does not get nailed for this in court.
          • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:03PM (#39675807) Journal
            I've always found it ironic that cable TV got its start rebroadcasting OTA feeds to places with lousy reception(much against the preferences of the OTA broadcasters); but once it received government sanction and came into some money of its own, swiftly re-positioned itself as a crusading champion of the absolute dominion of broadcasters...

            These Aereo chaps are virtually identical, in terms of business model, to the original cable guys(except that they are bending over backwards to accommodate the absurdities of the law by having an individual antenna in a huge array for each subscriber...
            • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:45PM (#39676577)
              The one detail you've missed is that Aereo does not have an agreement with the local stations but the cable companies do. They are essentially saying that they don't need permission as it falls under Fair Use. This is somewhat murky because courts have allowed for time shifting and format shifting but most of those uses assumed prior permission. Cablevision allowed cable companies to store/replay content which their subscriber paid for. Sling streams content from the subscriber's home. This is slightly different.
              • by sjames (1099) on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:00PM (#39677753) Homepage

                The detail YOU missed is that when the cable companies were at the same point in development that Aero is now, they had no agreement either AND didn't even try to accommodate the absurdities. Of course, the legal landscape was a little less absurd at that time.

                • The point YOU failed to understand is the difference between compulsory and selective licensing.

                  Copyright holders in the programs being re-broadcasted have no say in the matter, under what is known as compulsory licensing. Congress adopted the licensing structure following Supreme Court decisions in the ’60s and ’70s that allowed cable companies to hijack over-the-air broadcasts and include them in their primitive television packages.

                  Cable companies have always licensed OTA broadcasts; under compulsory license they were not required to individually license each station, copyright holder and copyright holders could not refuse to license.

                  • by sjames (1099)

                    In your own quote, you note that the compulsory licensing scheme came AFTER cable was already up and running. So no, they have not ALWAYS licensed the OTA broadcasts.

                    Then the Supremes ruled that they weren't breaking the law, so Congress tossed some absurdity into the legal landscape. If not for that, we might not have so much trouble with monopolies and kooky turf wars today.

            • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday April 13, 2012 @02:17PM (#39677083) Homepage

              Cable companies also lobbied hard to get the rebroadcast fees into law. That way it made all community TV antenna systems that were their biggest competition illegal.

              IT was common for a city block or subdivision to have one large tower and several antennas picking up the TV stations and then running coax to all the homes rolled int othe association fees. Apartment complexes also used to do this before it was railroaded into being illegal by the cable tv industry.

        • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:50PM (#39675527)

          Hopefully the courts will see it as such and Aero doesn't go bankrupt from fighting this.

          I think Aero going bankrupt from this is the general idea behind the lawsuit.

        • by icebike (68054) * on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:56PM (#39675649)

          You have to ask if their transmission constitutes a broadcast.

          After all, with AEREO you rent an antenna in NYC, and send it by TCP/IP over the internet. Its not that much different than sending it from the roof to your basement lair over a wire. You just have a really long antenna lead. Its exactly the same thins as a Slingbox hooked up to your roof antenna.

          Big media doesn't care about this as long as Aereo stays in one market, but they know that the internet gives Aereo a long antenna lead to anyplace.

          So yeah, its market control, but really its the fact that someone else found a way to make money off of the OTA feed. We can't have that now can we?

          • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:11PM (#39675977) Journal
            I get the impression that Team Content wishes to operate under the legal theory that anything that happens to their precious content without their permission is illegal, period.

            They'd probably still be upset if somebody were using a clever arrangement of metallized balloons to bounce the RF from the New York broadcast region to wherever they wanted it... The fact that the filthy, filthy, internet, with its pernicious pirates is involved just drives them into a blind rage.
        • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:38PM (#39676453)

          A Slingbox is okay because it's your own device rebroadcasting to you--fair use.

          Isn't this just a slingbox that I am renting?

    • by iamhassi (659463) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:31PM (#39675145) Journal

      then what difference does it make where you get it from? Maybe someone can make it clear for me exactly what their lawsuit is saying here.

      Good luck with that studios. Worked great for the music companies.... oh wait, no it didn't, they're owned by Apple now because Apple sells most of their music and the music companies could not survive without Apple.

      So sue away... until another Apple ends up owning you because you flatly refused to give customers what we're begging for and willing to pay for, an easy way to watch every TV ever created on every media device we own.

      If it wasn't for the stupidity of the music companies trying to sue napster and everyone there would have been no iPod, iTunes, iPhone or Android, because had the music companies made their own store and sold music then Apple would have never made billions off iTunes

      • Yeah, I don't know about this case, since it does seem to be a case of rebroadcasting. However, I think you're right to draw a comparison between the music industry of 10 years ago and the TV industry today.

        We all know the story: in the late 90s, once people had been exposed to Napster, most people knew where music distribution was going. People had been exposed to a system where they could search online for essentially any song ever, and then download it. Contrary to the way we sometimes talk about it, the revolutionary thing about Napster was not that it allowed piracy, but that it enabled people to easily fetch whatever song they wanted without leaving the house. It was perhaps the first exposure the masses had to the idea of a highly available massive online media library, and people loved the idea.

        If the record companies had been smart, they would have taken one look at this setup and said, "We need to make this happen. This needs to happen, and it will happen whether we like it or not, so let's get ahead of this thing. Let's figure out how to make money off of this thing immediately so we can be the first business into this market."

        Instead they stonewalled. They dragged their feet. The people running the record companies not only expressed that they weren't happy with online distribution, but they were even unhappy selling CDs and wanted to go back to vinyl. They tried to kill online services. When they made online services, they focused on preventing piracy, and they focused on creating synergistic marketing campaigns that would maximize shareholder value with a high ROI. What they didn't focus on, however, was making these services good.

        And then Apple came along, leveraged some industry connections and a popular music player, and Apple drank their milkshake. Too bad, so sad.

        Now the TV industry is doing the same thing. A growing number of people are asking, "Why can't I just have Netflix, but with all the TV shows and movies that I want to watch?" The people in the industry are dragging their feet, stonewalling, trying to prevent piracy, and engaging in bullshit marketing deals. They are not focused on making a good service that will make their customers happy. The only question is, will it be Apple drinking their milkshake again, or will it be someone else this time?

    • by dmomo (256005) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:33PM (#39675167) Homepage

      The Networks make deals based on the assumption that those airwaves are only accessible from in certain areas. Advertisers may or may not pay different fees based on the "market" their commercial would reach. It's a legitimate concern.

      A lot of these slow-changing old companies are trying to shoe-horn the world to fit their aging business models. They really should be adapting to the new realities of Technology in the Modern World. The market is shifting, and clinging to old revenue streams is merely going to put them behind.

      Lawsuit or no, their real concern should be the viability of their business model in a quickly evolving World.

      • I believe it is a legitimate concern IF and ONLY IF people that stream from the iPads even watch commercials to begin with. What are the studios going to do next? Sue all the people that don't watch advertisements?
        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:17PM (#39676113) Journal

          I believe it is a legitimate concern IF and ONLY IF people that stream from the iPads even watch commercials to begin with. What are the studios going to do next? Sue all the people that don't watch advertisements?

          As saith Jamie Kellner, Chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting: "[Ad skips are] theft. Your contract with the network when you get the show is you're going to watch the spots. Otherwise you couldn't get the show on an ad-supported basis. Any time you skip a commercial or watch the button you're actually stealing the programming."

          People who living outside of Jamie's delusional universe don't actually remember signing any contracts, much less any that meet the requirements of hundreds of years of contract law precedent, to watch OTA broadcasts; but it isn't a big secret that the broadcasters would love to...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dmacleod808 (729707)
        Obviously neither you or anyone else in this thread did a little research... From Aereo's webpage: "Aereo is available exclusively in New York City"
        • by dmomo (256005)

          I did read it. The "market area" case was just an example of the type of thing that would appear in a contract with advertisers. There are certainly many other terms and factors in the deals they make, and disruptive Technology like this affects those deals.

          So, again. To the networks; this is a legitimate concern. I didn't pretend to defend or promote the reasons for this concern. My aim was to simply answer a question brought up with the parent post. No need to be righteous with your snitty comment. No

      • the advertisers should be throwing a fit that the networks are trying to shut this service down. as presumably the advertisers are getting some new viewers from it that they normally wouldn't be able to reach.

        why don't the advertisers ever band together and fight against the networks? they are the real ones being screwed here.

    • by cforciea (1926392) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:35PM (#39675195)
      I think they have a couple of reasons for this lawsuit. First, they don't want any precedents set. A portion of this lawsuit is actually about how it is being streamed; specifically, there is a 1:1 ratio of antennas and users, and Aereo claims they are protected because they are just a long wire between the antenna and the user. If that argument holds for free over-the-air programming, it might be used later to protect streaming of something that is not quite so free. Also, they are probably worried about losing out on revenue from selling people the programming if they don't see it for free over the air when it broadcasts (or via DVR). They want additional advertising value to go to re-runs rather than disappearing into this system, and they are possibly scared it will hurt things like DVD/iTunes sales. They want to be in control as much as possible of any format swapping you do.

      Personally, I think they are shooting themselves in the foot, in that I bet they could negotiate advertising revenue by leveraging these additional live viewers, and this adds to the ever-increasing perception that the old school broadcasters are unfriendly to viewers because they can't keep up with the times, but those are of course the typical mistakes these people make anyway, so it isn't surprising.
      • by icebike (68054) *

        A portion of this lawsuit is actually about how it is being streamed; specifically, there is a 1:1 ratio of antennas and users,

        A legal lillypad at best.

        You know that if this court challenge is shot down, that there will be one antenna per station, and one Singe-cast TCP/IP feed per end user (for a little while), and then there will be one Multicast TCP/IP feed per station. (Single-Cast does not scale).

        This is market killing technology. The gene is out of the bottle (again). Big Media might as well try negotiations, or settle for the increased advertising reach.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:25PM (#39676223) Journal
        Any outcome is possible, it seems, in these cases; but if I were the broadcasters I'd be worried about my chances of winning this one by anything other than burying Aereo in paper until they run out of money and stop twitching...

        The Cablevision case, a few years back, over their 'cloud DVR' system was decided in Cablevision's favor(despite the long-distance transmission) because of the argument that, since Cablevision physically stored an individual copy of the recorded show, per subscriber recording it, the service simply amounted to Cablevision running a 'DVR colo' service.(I don't think that the case decided exactly what a one needed to do to demonstrate a unique copy. Does it have to exist at the disk level? Is it OK if the filesystem sees two copies but the SAN is silently deduplicating blocks in the background? Does a 'single' copy at the FS level stored on a raid volume count as slightly more than one copy, depending on the level of redundancy?); but there would seem to be a clear analogy between the, now vindicated in court, DVR-across-the-network concept and the antenna-across-the-network one.
    • by Gideon Wells (1412675) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:37PM (#39675241)

      'lose control over the dissemination of their copyrighted programming, disrupts their relationships with licensed distributors and viewers and usurps their right to decide how and on what terms to make available and license content over new internet distribution media.'"

      That is the key sentence, I believe. Back when TNN, I think it was them?, tried streaming their cable services to iPads there were comments from the industry that this was causing an up roar. Some being so blatantly honest to admit they were fast nearing the point of no longer even knowing what qualified as a "television". How much of the industry is built around a dumb box which displays images they send to it?

      What does it do to the industry now that televisions are increasingly becoming glorified computer monitors for watered-down/specialized computers? How much more is the line blurred when you can get television easily on your computer devices? This sounds like they are trying to halt the coming computer/television singularity by keeping television away from clearly computer devices.

      • At some point it isn't going to matter. When you get a company like Apple with vast amounts of cash reserves and basically it's own distribution system, the lights will go on and the decision will be made to start creating more content. While the networks and the major studios try to control when you can watch something and where you can watch it, the new media will simply come in, start delivering people what they want, and it will be irrelevant.

        These guys are literally fiddling while Rome burns. Each step

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Netflix already has one series. It is good if you are not too stupid to read some subtitles and will be bringing back Arrested Development next year.

          Hopefully apple does the same thing, as should amazon.

    • by icebike (68054) *

      They are on uncharted legal ground here, mostly because they employ new technology.

      From TFA:

      Instead, Aereo has deployed a small forest of baby antennas, which users rent from Aereo. Chet Kanojia, the company’s chief executive, said the business model of providing a remote antenna for a user is “consistent with over-the-air broadcasting.” He said “it doesn’t require licensing.”

      The thing is, even a Cable Company needs permission to pick up a local station and rebroadcast it. There are fees involved, even for mandatory must-carry stations.
      But Aereo is claiming they are exempt from these because they just capture over the air broadcasts that anyone could pick up. Presumably they transmit it, ads and all in real time.

      Broadcasters claim they lose control of their content. After all, if this

    • by similar_name (1164087) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:13PM (#39676019)
      As far as I'm concerned if a network doesn't want me watching their ads then it's no skin off my back. Networks make money by providing content and selling ads. However, it seems they are more concerned with controlling how I watch their content and ads. I understand they charge different rates for different markets. I understand they have licensing agreement with their affiliates. But none of that matters to me. It's really their problem.

      So if they don't want me as a customer I'm not going to put up a fight to be one. 90% of my TV watching is from the internet. I know not everyone has their TV hooked up to the internet nor does everyone watch their TV on tablets and other devices but things are moving that direction. The writing is on the wall. If I were a shareholder I would want the company to focus more on adapting their business model to these realities rather than wasting resources on litigation that does nothing to stop the inevitable.
  • by binkless (131541) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:23PM (#39674997)

    I hear Hilary Rosen is available

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:30PM (#39675119)

    I thought this battle had been fought and won in the VCR times.

    You know what - I'm trying really hard to be a law-abiding copyright user. But I'm getting to the point where I really don't care anymore. Fuck the content providers. I can always send artists a check, support companies via kickstarter, or directly contribute in other ways. But I know how to rip, I know how to store, and I can create a darknet for friends and family. I have most of the hardware and software in place, and I expect that over the next few years, I'll actually have a nice library of movies (thank you, library), music (thank you, friends) and books that is sitting on my personal storage server, and freely available to anyone I give access to. The server is sitting behind a firewall, and nobody knows about it unless I tell them the secret knock.

    Have fun, MPAA/RIAA. Welcome to your worst nightmare.

    • by Myopic (18616) * on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:36PM (#39675217)

      I can just hear the bobblyhead executives screaming "HOW DARE they help people watch our TV shows and COMMERCIALS? WE DON'T WANT more people to watch what we BROADCAST! If we wanted people to watch, WE WOULD MAKE IT EASY AND CONVENIENT! WE MAKE IT ANNOYING AND DIFFICULT FOR A REASON!"

      #headasplode

    • by hawguy (1600213) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:38PM (#39675257)

      I thought this battle had been fought and won in the VCR times.

      Since they are rebroadcasting from a central location, this isn't quite the same as the VCR case (as much as Aereo tries to make it so). This would be more like if a company was recording shows off the air onto VCR tapes and mailing them to subscribers. Which is quite a bit different than a user recording shows at home for later viewing.

      • How is allowing one person to see the received signal from an antenna in any way "rebroadcasting?" Perhaps you should look up the definition of the word "broadcasting."
  • Derp, Meet Herp (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:31PM (#39675137)

    The networks, however, say Aereo will cause irreparable harm to their business. Aereo's conduct apparently causes them to 'lose control over the dissemination of their copyrighted programming, disrupts their relationships with licensed distributors and viewers and usurps their right to decide how and on what terms to make available and license content over new internet distribution media.'

    That's the exact same argument they used against VCRs. "They'll be able to bypass the advertisement! Share with their friends! Our business model will be in jeopardy." The only thing that's changed between then and now is that back then, the justices didn't support state-sponsored capitalism; That is, the privatization of profits and the socialization of costs.

    Which, actually, probably means even more citizens now will be taking the approach of "If a law is stupid, ignore it." -- Which is not healthy for a society, but unavoidable when the justice system has departed so far from the actual values and morals of the general population so as to have lost relevance.

    • Re:Derp, Meet Herp (Score:5, Interesting)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:44PM (#39675385)

      more citizens now will be taking the approach of "If a law is stupid, ignore it." -- Which is not healthy for a society

      Sometimes it is absolutely necessary for the health of society. Remember Rosa Parks? Fugitive slave laws? Laws that made the teaching of the theory of evolution illegal? Sometimes bad laws need to be ignored before they can be struck down by courts; sometimes governments need to be reminded that their power is not handed down by God.

      There is nothing holy about the law. If a law is so far out of touch with the realities that face the people it is supposed to govern, then it needs to be repealed and it will be ignored. The right wing of Ameircan politics (which is basically all of American politics at this point) has managed to convince people that the power of the government is absolute, and that the letter of the law is the only thing that matters. You need not look any further than this to see how wrong these fascists are:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification [wikipedia.org]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CroDragn (866826)
        Anytime the laws are not reflecting the moral values of the society they're serving, it isn't healthy; it breeds a contempt for the law, the courts, and the government as a whole. Stupid laws need to be ignored, protested, and fought until they are brought back in line with social values as a whole, since after all it's society as a whole that laws are supposed to serve. The cases you pointed out serve to point this out actually; blacks were not being treated fairly with by the laws, and as a result still
      • Re:Derp, Meet Herp (Score:5, Informative)

        by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:33PM (#39676351) Homepage

        I'm very surprised you haven't made mention of the guy who best articulated the importance of breaking unjust laws:
        Henry David Thoreau: Civil Disobedience [eserver.org]

        To give you an idea as to how important that essay was, it was specifically cited by Mohandes Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. And of course the title has lent its name to most non-violent resistance movements.

  • Over the airwaves. The device I use to receive it is my business.
  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@uberLIONm00.net minus cat> on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:32PM (#39675157) Homepage Journal

    To understand the latest legal jockeying, substitute the term VCR with Aereo. The upstart, Aereo, opened for business last month and supplies internet streams and a DVR service for over-the-air broadcasts to its New York customers. In other words, Aereo lets those in New York who want to watch on their iPad what they can pull down for free from the public airwaves to their TV with an antenna. For the moment, the service is free, but will soon charge $12 monthly.

    This suggests to me the following:

    1. Aereo receives television signals over the public airwaves.
    2. Aereo rebroadcasts the signals through their internet distribution network.
    3. Aereo soon plans to charge for this service.

    If I was a TV station, I would have serious problems with steps 2 and 3, and I believe copyright law would agree (with the usual disclaimer that I am not a lawyer and you should not take legal advice from me).

    Just because it's broadcast over the public airwaves does not make the broadcast public domain. It's still copyrighted, and by redistributing the signal, it seems to be clear copyright infringement to me. If they want this to be legal, they appear to need new laws.

    This is not like a VCR because with a VCR, the distribution of video still happens directly from the copyright owner or their agent. This would be like a company renting a single movie, making copies, then charging for access to the copies, without compensating the original distributor.

    By the way, if this practice were legal, what's to prevent Aereo from charging even more to remove the commercials from their rebroadcasts entirely?

    • Finally, someone who understands what this is actually about. As you say, "free" broadcast signals aren't really free, they're encumbered by all sorts of restrictions such as private viewing only.
      • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:58PM (#39675695) Homepage

        They shouldn't be.

        They are being given away to everyone. Much like a web page, there should be no artificial limitations imposed upon whom can view the content or with what.

        As long as the signal is not altered, it should be retransmittable by anyone. The fact that this is currently not the case is a gross error in the current law.

        It's the current law that is bogus, not this company.

        Any "community antenna" service should be allowed.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      but why wouldn't it be legal for me to rent a flat in nyc and place a dvr in there and stream the end results for my viewing whereever? that's what they do essentially.

      the legal points why they think this should be illegal don't seem to exist - the point is just that it fucks up their public broadcasting price discrimination based on locale policy.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        but why wouldn't it be legal for me to rent a flat in nyc and place a dvr in there and stream the end results for my viewing whereever? that's what they do essentially.

        If you record an OTA broadcast to a DVD-R and they record an OTA broadcast to a DVD-R it's essentially the same thing, but the broadcaster will have a problem with a company doing that for profit and selling the DVD. It's not the only factors but what you do for private non-commercial use is treated quite different than a public commercial service. Honestly I find it more likely that your private right to fair use would be taken away than their commercial control would be, so I wouldn't be so quick to tie t

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:43PM (#39675381)

      If your read the end of the article, what Aereo is doing may be legal.

      QUOTE: "The idea is to rely, in part, on a 2008 federal appeals court ruling known as Cablevision. That ruling, which the Supreme Court declined to review, said Cablevision Systemsâ(TM) cloud-based DVR service was legal only because each user who ordered Cablevision to make a copy of last Thursdayâ(TM)s Seinfeld got their own individual copy in their own folder in the companyâ(TM)s data center.

      "Hollywood claimed Cablevisionâ(TM)s service directly infringed its exclusive rights to both reproduce and to publicly perform their copyrighted works. In a highly complex and nuanced ruling, the court said individual consumers, not Cablevision, were copying and acquiring the material at their own discretion, which amounted to fair use.

      "That leaves some hope for Aereo. And the companyâ(TM)s got another thing going for it â" a deep-pocketed investor who appears willing to fund an expensive and lengthy court fight. Barry Diller, the chairman of internet company IAC/InterActiveCorp, has invested $20.5 million of the companyâ(TM)s money in Aereo. Ironically, Diller founded Fox Broadcasting in 1986, which is one of the plaintiffâ(TM)s suing Aereo."

    • by Skapare (16644)

      Cable companies already do this. And they have been doing this since at least 1953. My grandfather built a cable TV system (with 2 channels) back then and charged $100/month (yes, in 1953) until he realized he was not going to have more than 6 customers at that rate.

    • From TFA:

      Aereo has deployed a small forest of baby antennas, which users rent from Aereo. Chet Kanojia, the company’s chief executive, said the business model of providing a remote antenna for a user is “consistent with over-the-air broadcasting.” He said “it doesn’t require licensing.”

      I think Aereo's defense is that they're only providing the antenna, one-per-user, and therefore are not technically streaming anything. Technically, the signal is still originating from the station's transmitter, Aereo is just providing receivers to people who may not necessarily reside in the transmitter's broadcast range.

      In layman's terms, it's akin to having a mast antenna on your house, except the antenna is on your neighbor's house 2000 miles away, and you have a really, really long cable.

    • It is not really a "broadcast" if only one person is receiving it. What Aereo is doing is assigning each customer their own antenna, and sending them the received signal over the Internet. That is not "rebroadcasting."

      What the plaintiffs are getting their panties in a twist over is the fact that they did not realize that they could have done this sort of thing, and now someone else might be able to monetize it. I have no sympathy for them, they should lose and be forced to pay Aereo's legal fees plus
    • Just because it's broadcast over the public airwaves does not make the broadcast public domain.

      It doesn't make the contents public domain, but why isn't the broadcasted signal itself? For a thought experiment, suppose Aereo was able to limit its transmissions to customers who would be able to receive the broadcast OTA for free. Further suppose that Internet access was perfectly ubiquitous among those viewers, and Aereo provided such incredible service that they achieved 100% market share such that not a single viewer consumed the OTA signal anymore. The broadcasters realize that maintaining an antenn

    • This would be like a company renting a single movie, making copies, then charging for access to the copies, without compensating the original distributor.

      Or perhaps a better comparison would be cable networks carrying broadcast network channels without permission from the broadcast networks.

    • by fermion (181285)
      It is interesting to note that cable companies pay to rebroadcast the broadcast TV signals. If it is legal to broadcast the signal without license over the internet for compensation, then it will theoretical be legal to rebroadcast those signals over cable as well. Which would irreparable the TV networks.

      This technology is not the VCR. This is more like someone setting up a business which will record desired show on tape, and the sell you the tape. That would not be a bad model. Set up hundreds of ma

    • I suppose that depends on what definition of broadcast you are using. Of course, you must pick one that would make Aereo liable for broadcasting, but one that doesn't also include how a TV antenna works, or how your TV retransmits the signal using light rays. I find that hard to do.

    • by msauve (701917)
      "Aereo rebroadcasts the signals through their internet distribution network."

      No, the receive, one antenna per user. Then then unicast the stream to that user's device. "Broadcast" would imply they send that stream to all takers - they don't.

      How is what they offer different than renting someone a TV to IP converter? The only difference is where the equipment physically resides. Is it legal to own a Slingbox, but not to rent one? How about all the government subsidized DTV boxes, which receive a DTV signal,
  • Aereo should sue the broadcaster for spraying their antenna with copyrighted media.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:35PM (#39675189)

    When I read the summary, I assumed that the customer installed an Aereo box at home and used their own internet connection to stream the content to their iPad. This seems like a clear case of fair use - I should be able to watch my home TV service (even over the air TV) on any device I want. However, what the Aereo service does is host thousands of tiny antennas in a datacenter, and rents an individual antenna to each user, no box at home needed.

    Sounds like an interesting attempt to allow rebroadcasting, but I can see why the networks have a problem with it. They don't want someone in San Francisco watching TV (and ads) from New York - it dilutes their ability to sell targeted ads and reduces the value of network affiliates. Ever if Aereo claims to do address verification, there are many ways to get a mailing address in New York, but it would be harder to do that if they required a physical box to be the receiver.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      Yeah, this seems much closer to rebroadcasting, which you can't do unless the original broadcaster allows you to. Consider even the case where you're not changing mediums. I set up a free streaming radio station at mysite.com. You can receive this, and route it within your house or devices however you want. But what you can't do is rebroadcast my radio stream from yoursite.com, and certainly not rebroadcast it and then sell subscriptions to yoursite.com's rebroadcast of my radio station!

      • by w_dragon (1802458)

        Consider even the case where you're not changing mediums. I set up a free streaming radio station at mysite.com. You can receive this, and route it within your house or devices however you want. But what you can't do is rebroadcast my radio stream from yoursite.com, and certainly not rebroadcast it and then sell subscriptions to yoursite.com's rebroadcast of my radio station!

        But I probably can set up a proxy server so that my friend can get to your content through my connection. This is no different from me running a coax wire from my antenna to my neighbor so that only one of us has to have a butt-ugly mast antenna outside to get the signal. I can probably charge them for the connection as well, since it's charging for a wire, not the data on the wire.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          But I probably can set up a proxy server so that my friend can get to your content through my connection. This is no different from me running a coax wire from my antenna to my neighbor so that only one of us has to have a butt-ugly mast antenna outside to get the signal. I can probably charge them for the connection as well, since it's charging for a wire, not the data on the wire.

          Perhaps in theory it's no different than sharing a physical cable, but in practice it is much different -- unless your neighbor literally lives next door, you can't run a cable to him without negotiating a right-of-way through other neighbor's yards or public easements. So anything requiring physical wiring is self-limiting, it won't be done on a large scale. Which is not the case when you're dealing with a virtual service.

          • unless your neighbor literally lives next door, you can't run a cable to him without negotiating a right-of-way through other neighbor's yards or public easements

            Good thing we already put in all that effort when broadband Internet access was being deployed.

    • So if I have an antenna at my house, that's fine, but if it is at your house then there is a problem? What?

      This is a clear-cut case of one business trying to destroy the competition through frivolous lawsuits and abuses of the court system. The broadcasters are just angry that they were not innovative enough to develop such a system on their own. When Aereo is sued into bankruptcy, the broadcasters will buy up all the patents and trade secrets and try to deploy their own version of this system.
      • by hawguy (1600213)

        So if I have an antenna at my house, that's fine, but if it is at your house then there is a problem? What?

        This is a clear-cut case of one business trying to destroy the competition through frivolous lawsuits and abuses of the court system. The broadcasters are just angry that they were not innovative enough to develop such a system on their own. When Aereo is sued into bankruptcy, the broadcasters will buy up all the patents and trade secrets and try to deploy their own version of this system.

        Since the Slingbox is still sold, apparently the networks and cable companies do make a distinction between you hosting a box at home (or even a friend's house), and having a commercial company host thousands of them and then charging a fee for access to the content. Do you really see no difference between the two?

        • Since the Slingbox is still sold, apparently the networks and cable companies do make a distinction between you hosting a box at home (or even a friend's house), and having a commercial company host thousands of them and then charging a fee for access to the content. Do you really see no difference between the two?

          Sure I do: it is the difference between a talented baker making a couple dozen cookies in their home, and a talented baker running their own bakery. What the broadcasters want to do is stifle the growth of an innovative business, because they lack the creativity and talent needed to deploy innovative technologies on their own. Do you really think that killing an innovative business is a good thing?

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:35PM (#39675191)

    Over the years the FCC has granted to local stations the right to charge for their product. Cable companies pay about 1 cent per station (per household)* for the rights to rebroadcast local stations over their wires. This "Aereo" service may have to abide by the same rules.

    *
    *Yet another reason I use a CM4228 antenna; I get the locals free without charge.

    • by mprindle (198799)

      Over the years the FCC has granted to local stations the right to charge for their product. Cable companies pay about 1 cent per station (per household)* for the rights to rebroadcast local stations over their wires. This "Aereo" service may have to abide by the same rules.

      *

      Sounds fair to me, if they are sending 10 stations then they pay .10 cents per user to the content provider.

    • by sdnoob (917382)

      maybe in some markets its only a penny per subscriber to each station, but around here it's a lot higher than that (and this is not a top 10 market.. not even top 100 or 200)... and getting worse as each station holds their programming hostage to extort more money out of the cable and satellite companies.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        So how much is it?

        I know the cable channels charge ~75 cents each (more for Disney/ESPN; less for news channels like CNN) but the local stations have always been just 1-2 pennies each.

  • by Tyr07 (2300912) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:35PM (#39675209)

    Please make them all illegal. New competition is causing harm to our business. Customers have other choices are harming our business.
    New technology is harming our buisness. Our business model that's outdated is no longer valid, please make everything that prevents it from still working illegal.

    ----
    Dear Companies,

    Some companies close down, it happens, it's called failing to keep up with the time, failing to adjust your business model to adapt to todays market, a company who may no longer be needed.

    We don't hear about blacksmiths filing suits against all forms of machinery which takes work away from them and hurts their business.
    Fletchers aren't complaining.
    The list goes on.

    Its time for you to move on.

  • "Waaaaaah!"

    oh, that. yes, that was it. I'm so tired of people trying to sell me products or services, and then claim a right to tell me how I will be using said products or services.

    What this almost always boils down to is that the consumer has found a way to get better value out of the service/product than either party originally expected, and the provider/seller feels that this magically entitles them to an additional cut now that the product/service has become more valuable to the consumer. And unlike

  • All of the TV shows that I or my family regularly watch are readily available online at the network's website within about 24 hours of airing.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Not always. Some networks hold their shows for 8 days (FOX) or even as long as a month (NBC's Syfy). It's pretty annoying for those of us who use Hulu like a VCR to see shows we missed.

      • by mark-t (151149)

        Well yes... YMMV, of course. I can only speak from personal experience.

        I don't watch anything on FOX.... and as for the stuff on Syfy that I might want to watch, I'd rather wait until the entire current season comes out on DVD, and I can watch it all at my own pace anyways.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          To the person below: FOX, NBC, etc are trying to protect the local stations and cable channels by discouraging Hulu-watching. They want you to watch the show live and thereby support the traditional TV channel.

          To the person above: I don't watch FOX anymore but I used to watch Fringe, House, Dollhouse, and Terminator on FOX. The 8 day delay to release these shows to Hulu was an annoyance.

          And the ~30 day delay for Syfy is an annoyance too,
          but at least it's free. I don't have to pay for cable.

      • by hendridm (302246)

        I don't understand why they have the delay in releasing them to Hulu. If they were on Hulu right away, I would watch with commercials. Since they like to be dicks about it, I just download from TPB and watch without commercials. Who is winning there?

    • Live sports.

    • by antdude (79039)

      Two from my head:
      1) Region blocking to outside of countries.
      2) Some have to wait eight days later unless you are a subscriber like on Hulu+

      I am sure there are more. ;)

  • as long as the "rented" antenna is in the same local tv market as the aereo subscriber's address, i don't see the problem... not any different than slingbox place-shifting (also orb, vlc, etc) then...

    but if they start (presently they do not allow this) letting people "rent" out-of-market antennas (e.g. someone in florida "renting" a new york-based antenna.. then i can see where the networks would have a problem with the service (should have to follow similar rules as satellite companies offering local chann

  • Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Hollywood end up making quite a bit of money as a result of home theatre systems? You'd think they would've learned by now that technology can generate profits. Aereo is actually assisting in broadcasting the major networks content to a larger audience. In theory, this could be good for advertising revenue.
  • So what's the issue here? It's not like they are removing/skipping the TV ads, they are just converting the broadcast to play on a persons digital device. They even have a dedicated antenna for each user. So, that means more people are now seeing the same commercials equaling more ad impressions which means the TV execs can charge more for the ads.

    As others have said why not working the company to work out a fee instead of trying to sue them into the ground.

    • So what's the issue here?

      The fact that the broadcasters did not come up with this system on their own, and therefore cannot make money from it. This is also known as "a greedy abuse of the court system, for which the plaintiffs should be penalized."

  • Aereo's conduct apparently causes them to 'lose control over the dissemination of their copyrighted programming, disrupts their relationships with licensed distributors and viewers and usurps their right to decide how and on what terms to make available and license content over new internet distribution media.'"
    I think they could have just been more concise and said that it negatively affects their advertising pricing model.
    Remember folks, no matter what they're talking about, they're talking about mone
  • Another, predictable, imbecilic move from the Nets. Especially since all of them have seen ratings drop across the board -- NBC dramatically so.

    The only sensible future of TV is using an MLB.TV model. For those of you not baseball fans, MLB broadcasts all games live, all season in HD -- for a set fee. They do this for subscribers all over the world. Sometimes there's ads too -- but they are really not yet utilizing the ad model much. It's available for iPad and phones too.

    With more advertising, the st
  • It's just amazing for me to watch this battle. What other industry goes to this length to keep people from consuming their product? They are truly clueless.
    Here you have people going to great lengths and expense to watch a TV show (with original commercials) and we have the creators and distributors of the show actively trying to prevent them. These people are dinosaurs and deserve to die out.

    • by PPH (736903) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:29PM (#39676281)

      I'm guessing that it has to do with tracking viewers. The broadcasters can charge advertisers and the studios pricing models depend on the number of viewers each program has. And from what I've seen, all of the parties involved have a major hissy-fit every time Nielsen proposes a more advanced and accurate method of counting them. Because this might end up costing someone some money.

      So, in comes a new distribution channel (Aereo) who may or may not be counting heads*. But either way, someone is getting something for free that they were not before. Either advertisers were getting more uncounted eyeballs, which they don't want to start paying for. Or Aereo is counting and the studios don't like the new* statistics which could make their product look like the crap it is.

      *Theoretically, with the greater capabilities of Internet-based technology, counting viewers should be easier with Aereo than the sampling that Nielsen does. We know who you are, where you are and exactly what you are watching (just like Facebook, Google and others). But everyone has built their business models (and probably even engineered TV content) to work with the biases built into the existing system. So they don't want anything to change.

  • What I want to know is, where do I get one of those tiny antenna arrays?

    Looks neat.
    • How is it a different issue? We are seeing the same argument, by the same group of people who are once again not creative enough to innovate and who are once against trying to squash competition through abuses of the court system. Aereo provides a location shifting service, nothing more, and they are not rebroadcasting anything, just renting antennas to people.
  • I didn't even realize over-the-air public broadcasting still existed.
  • The point of one antenna per customer is to avoid the rebroadcast and carriage fee issue. They aren't rebroadcasting into the air, or even into a shared CATV (community access television) cable. They are "retransmitting" portions of the freely received signal privately over the internet. It seems logical that this should be legal, but logic left the intersection of copyright and technology long ago.

  • by DarthVain (724186) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:45PM (#39676581)

    I am pretty sure anyone can do this legally if they have the know how. Are they going to sue everyone? Why is it illegal, because a company is offering a service?

    I mean PC TV tuners have been around for ages, heck digital PC tuners have been around for years. Set one up, set up your own stream on your own network, and access it with your iPad... Might be some fiddly bits around getting past Apple's walled garden, but I am sure they much have some retail software out there that can be cobbled together to do the trick...

  • by DaKong (150846) on Friday April 13, 2012 @02:06PM (#39676899)

    There are a million things in the world to do that are more fulfilling than turning yourself into a mindslave for the content industries. Literally, a million. So go do them!

    The best thing that could happen from all the endless *AA's' lawsuits would be for everyone to switch off the slave colla...um, I mean, the TVs and stereos and go outside and discover any one of the million things to do that are not that. Or stay inside and discover the million things to do that are not sitting around waiting for some marketing jackass to tell you how to think or what to buy.

    If you like music, pick up an affordable guitar and teach yourself how to play. You might not ever achieve a respectable rendition of 'Stairway to Heaven,' but you will probably enjoy it much more than passively listening to a performance of the real thing. Likewise movies. Pick up your smartphone and shoot home movies of your kids. Nobody but you will ever enjoy them, but your family will enjoy them forever. And isn't that what's important?

    Stop living in the realm of other people's fantasies, especially when those fantasies come with real chains attached.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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