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Television Cloud Media The Courts

Bye Bye Aereo, For Now 93

Posted by timothy
from the boston-strangler-argument-sometimes-wins dept.
An anonymous reader writes It didn't take long for Aereo to deal with the realities of the U.S. Supreme Court decision. As of 11:30am EDT today Aereo is suspending operations while they go back to U.S. District Court. In order to keep good will with customers during this time, they are refunding the last month's payment for service. curtwoodward (2147628) writes to point out that the decision which has shut down Aereo for now doesn't mean doom for other cloud services: Don't listen to the trolls---the Supremes were very clear that their ruling only applied to Aereo's livestream and things that look just like it. iCloud, Dropbox and friends are fine.
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Bye Bye Aereo, For Now

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  • Listen to the trolls (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2014 @10:40AM (#47340685)

    The Supremes weren't as clear as they wanted, hence the lawsuit by Fox against Dish over Hopper [arstechnica.com] the next day.

    • by pla (258480)
      The problem with ignoring the trolls, in this case? They understand the issues involved far, far better than the geriatric asshats on the USSC.

      I didn't use Aereo, so have no skin in this game. But they effectively rented an antenna to people. Not a shared antenna, a private, one-to-one, real live antenna.

      Nevermind Dropbox and the like - This ruling sets a much darker precedent than merely whether or not you can store data you don't strictly "own" in the cloud. Although those seven uselessly-obsolete
      • by kwbauer (1677400)

        Only if DirectTV has an issue with it or maybe if your neighbor is an asshole and charges you for it and is also doing this for every other household in the country.

        • by pla (258480)
          Only if DirectTV has an issue with it or maybe if your neighbor is an asshole and charges you for it and is also doing this for every other household in the country.

          DirectTV should have zero say in the matter. And whether my neighbor lets just me, or a million people do the same, how does that materially differ? He has let people use his rooftop to mount an antenna, nothing more, nothing less.

          And there you see the real problem - If it makes sense to allow one person to do it, you can't really discrim
          • by mysidia (191772)

            DirectTV should have zero say in the matter. And whether my neighbor lets just me, or a million people do the same, how does that materially differ?

            It matters, because THIS is what the court is relying on, in effect.

            They are totally ignoring all aspects of the technological arrangement, including the fact that a dedicated antenna is being rented out.

            And saying.. essentially... if the end-user experience --- the end result -- is the same as with a CATV network, or if your business look like a CATV

            • by kwbauer (1677400)

              Exactly, I was only trying to point out that his analogy was not really very close to the actual case at hand.

          • by ultranova (717540)

            And there you see the real problem - If it makes sense to allow one person to do it, you can't really discriminate against a million people doing it.

            One person walking across a grassy field is fine. A million people walking across the same field leaves only trampled desolation.

            Welcome to real world, where scale matters.

      • I didn't use Aereo

        Neither do I, in fact I had to read this far down the comments to figure out what the hell it was, no hints in the summary.

    • The Hopper case is a bit different because it involves equipment that is clearly customer-controlled. No telling what this court will do, but Hopper is not a pure cloud play.
  • by beaverdownunder (1822050) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @10:40AM (#47340687)

    ...think that was ever going to last? C'mon now... really?

  • by djupedal (584558) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @10:41AM (#47340691)
    A Letter to Our Consumers: Standing Together for Innovation, Progress and Technology - An Update on Aereo

    "The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress." --Charles Kettering, inventor, entrepreneur, innovator & philanthropist

    A little over three years ago, our team embarked on a journey to improve the consumer television experience, using technology to create a smart, cloud-based television antenna consumers could use to access live over the air broadcast television.

    On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision in favor of Aereo, dealing a massive setback to consumers.

    As a result of that decision, our case has been returned to the lower Court. We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps. You will be able to access your cloud-based antenna and DVR only until 11:30 a.m. ET today. All of our users will be refunded their last paid month. If you have questions about your account, please email support@aereo.com or tweet us @AereoSupport.

    The spectrum that the broadcasters use to transmit over the air programming belongs to the American public and we believe you should have a right to access that live programming whether your antenna sits on the roof of your home, on top of your television or in the cloud.

    On behalf of the entire team at Aereo, thank you for the outpouring of support. It has been staggering and we are so grateful for your emails, Tweets and Facebook posts. Keep your voices loud and sign up for updates at ProtectMyAntenna.org - our journey is far from done.
    • by gnupun (752725)

      The spectrum that the broadcasters use to transmit over the air programming belongs to the American public and we believe you should have a right to access that live programming whether your antenna sits on the roof of your home,

      The spectrum may be public, but the public does not own the data in the spectrum, (just as roads may be public, but the public don't own the cars on the roads).

      A little over three years ago, our team embarked on a journey to improve the consumer television experience, using technol

      • by ultranova (717540)

        The spectrum may be public, but the public does not own the data in the spectrum, (just as roads may be public, but the public don't own the cars on the roads).

        No one owns data. Someone might have copyright on it, which may or may not be something other people should care about. I'm inclined to think they shouldn't, because copyright lobby has broken the bargain (limited-time incentive to expand the public domain) and it's actively hindering production of culture in digital era.

      • It's to make the company possible at all. The broadcast industry clearly doesn't want Aereo to exist, so the probability that they would have offered retransmission rights at non-ruinous rates is nil.
  • but they tried to use an loop hole to get out of paying the fees to the OTA channels for the rights to retransmit.

    Dish, directv, TWC, Comcast, WOW and others likely would of done the same if Aereo won to cut there fees.

    Now Aereo can stay around and do the same thing if they pay the fees.

    • by JWW (79176) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @11:08AM (#47340821)

      The charges that OTA channels get to charge cable companies a purely a protection racket. THAT is what should have been made illegal, not Aereo!

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @11:35AM (#47340933) Journal

        The charges that OTA channels get to charge cable companies a purely a protection racket. THAT is what should have been made illegal, not Aereo!

        Take it up with Congress. It's not the job of the Supreme Court to nullify lousy laws unless they fail to pass Constitutional Muster. The Cable Act is Congress exercising its power to regulate interstate commerce, so what exactly do you wish the nine to do about it?

      • by gnupun (752725)

        The charges that OTA channels get to charge cable companies a purely a protection racket. THAT is what should have been made illegal, not Aereo!

        How, so? The content is a product and the cable companies profit from that product, and should therefore pay the OTA broadcasters for its use.

        • by mysidia (191772)

          The content is a product and the cable companies profit from that product, and should therefore pay the OTA broadcasters for its use.

          No.... it's OTA. The content is being distributed freely over the air. The cable companies are profiting from value they add in terms of technical expertise, engineering work, the spending of massive amounts of dollars in capital expense to build and maintain infrastructure.

          Some viewers have difficulty receiving the OTA content over the air at the quality they want using

          • by gnupun (752725)

            No.... it's OTA. The content is being distributed freely over the air.

            So, it's like gpl -- once in the air, it's becomes free to anyone who can read it? Well then, anyone should able to record it and sell DVDs of tv shows too, right?

            Some viewers have difficulty receiving the OTA content over the air at the quality they want using their own equipment, or the investment is too much, or they lack the expertise to build large antenna structures and setup gateways to stream their content to themselves over th

      • Two wrongs don't make a right, but very often they make a Supreme Court decision.
    • by Dzimas (547818)
      Why should anyone pay a fee to re-transmit free-to-air TV signals? I understand that cable channels rely on subscription fees to stay in business, but we're talking about the major networks - ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and PBS - that are broadcast across 94% of the United States at no charge.
      • Because there's a law that explicitly says "you need a license to retransmit free-to-air TV signals". I think it's bullshit too and it leads to absurdities like this, but the law is extremely clear. In fact, they wrote the damn thing because there was a company with a centrally-located antenna and a lot of people paid to access its signal over wires. Sound familiar?

        • because there was a company with a centrally-located antenna and a lot of people paid to access its signal over wires.

          Yes. That's what Community Access TV was originally developed for.

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @11:49AM (#47341021) Journal

        Why should anyone pay a fee to re-transmit free-to-air TV signals? I understand that cable channels rely on subscription fees to stay in business, but we're talking about the major networks - ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and PBS - that are broadcast across 94% of the United States at no charge.

        Take PBS out of the equation, because they don't get retransmission fees. They're carried under the must-carry doctrine, meaning the cable company has to carry the local PBS station, but in exchange the station doesn't get any direct financial consideration.

        Regarding the other networks, Congress gave broadcasters two choices: must-carry [wikipedia.org] or retransmission consent [wikipedia.org]. Most broadcasters have opted for retransmission consent, because they see it as a source of revenue that offsets their declining advertising dollars. The economics of the broadcast business have changed and it's debatable that it could survive without this source of revenue. Actually it's debatable that it will survive at all in the long term, in its current form, even with retransmission revenue. Broadcasters will continue to be squeezed financially, retransmission fees won't plug the gap indefinitely, and their ultimate future is probably one of even more reality TV crap (it's cheap to produce) and re-runs. Quality original content will be pay-to-play, with the exception of PBS, which will probably manage to survive on the goodwill of its benefactors (here's hoping), though even that isn't a guaranteed thing.

        As far as why Congress set up this ecosystem, you'd have to ask them. They were trying to fix a lot of problems in the marketplace, MSOs were refusing to carry local channels or re-selling them for profit, which was a problem. As is usually the case, Congress managed to create more problems than they solved, and the legislation was actually passed over GHWB's veto.

        • by PPH (736903)

          The economics of the broadcast business have changed and it's debatable that it could survive without this source of revenue.

          Everything else is moving toward a 'pay for viewer' model. Netflix and others want access to the last mile? Hand the money over to the ISP. Pretty soon, if you want people to watch your local broadcast crap, pay up or no viewers. The middle ground right now is 'must carry'. Its why we have all those shopping networks and whack-a-doodle Christian channels. Local broadcasters can join that club. Make your money selling vacuum cleaners or indulgences like everyone else.

          Aereo was just ahead of its time.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Shakrai (717556)

            Aereo was a leech. They were trying to take OTA signals, for free, and retransmit them for profit. There's no "must carry" analogy here, "must carry" implies that the channels are made available for cost (where I live the CATV provider offers local broadcast channels for next to nothing, $4.95/mo last time I checked), not that the CATV provider is marking them up for profit.

            • by paiute (550198)

              Aereo was a leech.

              Wrong. I could buy an HDTV antenna and wire it and mount it - or I could pay Aereo to send be a signal from my own rented antenna and get exactly the same mix of local broadcast stations. Aereo was a service I was willing to pay for.

        • by DewDude (537374)
          Why did congress set it up? Think about this?

          The 1992 Cable Act set up the must-carry; and it's intention was to help get smaller ignored broadcasters on to cable systems with the must-carry provision. The retramission consent was probably foresight. ATSC was working on HDTV standards at that time (which, if you ask me were at least 10 years too early); 8VSB and COFDM were modulation methods looked at. For some odd reason, the FCC adopted 8VSB even though it's technically inferior to COFDM. 8VSB does not
          • Up next on the chopping block are going to be multi-room DVRs, Slingbox technology, and probably anything that delivers video to your computer. The judgement was not very clear on an even less clear law; and "past-precedent" will be used to get all kinds of new technology illegal.

            What are you talking about? Nobody made Aereo's technology "illegal." The Supreme Court simply said that if they want to keep doing what they're doing, they have to pay licensing fees, just like any cable TV company does, and just like streaming services the license content (like Hulu) do.

            Keeping personal copies of over-the-air content to replay for yourself has a long legal history in the courts (going back to VCRs and cassette tapes) -- "private, non-commercial timeshifting in the home" has clearly be

            • by pepty (1976012)
              When exactly does it become retransmission/rebroadcasting?

              1. Neighbor lets you rent antenna on his roof, you and he run a coax cable from it to your TV.

              2. Same but more neighbors/antennas.

              3. Same but digitally encoded.

              4. Same but using internet connections as opposed to a cable between the houses.

              5. Same but with a cloud based DVR.

              6. Aereo.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Shakrai (717556)

            the day of putting rabbit ears on the TV are largely over

            Those days never existed except for those lucky enough to live within a few miles of the transmitters. These people can still use rabbit ears and pull in quality signals. A friend of mine uses the non-amplified version of this [crutchfield.com], aimed at an inside wall of his house in the direction of the transmitters, and he pulls in the same channels I do. I'm 15 miles out, with a row of trees in the way, so I had to go to one of these [amazon.com], mounted on my back porch, which fortuitously happens to face the transmitters. Grow

        • PBS doesn't do it for the sole reason that the law forbids non-commercial entities from seeking retransmission fees. Don't think for a second that they wouldn't if they could. Remember, PBS is one of the organizations that launched the original lawsuit against Aereo. They make a ton of money from the sales of their DVDs, and it was their opinion that Aereo was reducing the value of these sales by allowing users to make DVR recordings of them at a very low cost (otherwise your typical DVR costs a lot more th

          • by Shakrai (717556)

            You're tacitly equating the organization that gave us Reading Rainbow, The News Hour, and Nova with the organization that gave us Xenu? Seriously?

            Incidentally, there is a difference between PBS and its member stations, whom receive most of the benefit from the pledge drives. I can't speak to the financial situation of PBS, but I do have friends on the board of our local PBS station, and they've never been flush with cash.

            • You're tacitly equating the organization that gave us Reading Rainbow, The News Hour, and Nova with the organization that gave us Xenu? Seriously?

              No, I'm just giving you an example of why a not for profit doesn't mean there's no profit involved. That isn't used as a means of equating or even comparing the two organizations whatsoever, it's just better describing what exactly not for profit means.

          • Oh and by the way, PBS president Paula Kerger brings in somewhere north of $600,000 per year annually. He personally was one of those lobbying for the government to put the brakes on Aereo. He also regularly lobbies for more government funding to PBS. That's just to give you an idea of what you defended when you said with regard to this lawsuit, and I quote: "Take PBS out of the equation."

            I hear people rail all day about CEO pay being too much, while these same people often believe that PBS deserves taxpaye

      • by Shakrai (717556)

        Here's an interesting history [thomsonreuters.com] of the relevant legislation if you're curious.

    • but they tried to use an loop hole to get out of paying the fees to the OTA channels for the rights to retransmit.

      In fact, those are rights to rebroadcast. While technically you would have to describe Aereo as "transmission", what they are really doing is transporting, and they are doing it as your agent.

    • by fermion (181285)
      So when you drive your car, you should have to pay for every toll road in the country, not just the toll roads you use?

      Here is the difference between Aero and Cable, and the reason the so called loop hole is valid. Cable collects all the broadcasts signals and retransmitts all those signals along to all subscribers. The fee is the right to collect and retransmit en masse.

      There is also and issue of the broadcasters use of the public airwaves. In exchange for this use, it is assumed that the tax payers

    • by antdude (79039)

      Where != were.

  • Um (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If they simply delay the stream by a tiny amount, even just a few seconds, the decision no longer applies, because then it becomes timeshifting on behalf of the customer, rather than live retransmission. Am I the only one who sees this loophole?I hope not.

    • by PPH (736903)
      Cut the ads out while you're at it. That should make the networks happy.
    • I think it's even mentioned at one point of the Supreme Court's decision. They'll have to do a bit more than that, and only offer pre-recorded programming, but It'll probably be done and, if they have the money to survive the lawsuits, it'll end up before the Supreme Court again. http://nypost.com/2014/06/26/hope-for-aereo-despite-supreme-court-defeat/ [nypost.com]

    • If they simply delay the stream by a tiny amount, even just a few seconds, the decision no longer applies, because then it becomes timeshifting on behalf of the customer, rather than live retransmission. Am I the only one who sees this loophole?

      The Supremes don't take it well when you try to evade their decisions by resorting to half-assed tricks and gimmicks. Tricks that may be particularly embarrassing to the minority who stood by you the first time around.

  • Got a second customer letter this morning - he's framing it as this is against progress *qua* progress. That sort of approach won't work - he needs to find whatever business model will work with what they want to accomplish.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why the fuck do basic tech terms get defined, but "Aereo" has no explanation?

    • You expect the /. editors to actually do their job?

      Bwahahaha.

      They have been slacking the day /. started.

      And yes, it sucks that they can't even post a summary to set the context.

    • yeah I was like "WTF is Aereo" also, and had to google for it.

      And the summary mentions the Supremes but does not explain why Diana Ross and the Supremes are involved with a flaky soon-to-be-dead internet startup.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's be clear on what happened here. The supposedly conservative judges modified an existing law.

    They took the text of the law and decided that something that complied with the letter of the law was still in violation "because".

    Because what? Because they thought that the intent of the legislators when passing the law was to ban this type of arrangement. Perhaps so, but that should not be relevant. What should be relevant is the text of the law. What happened was that the Supreme Court essentially re-wrot

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Shakrai (717556)

      The supposedly conservative judges modified an existing law.

      The three dissents came from the conservative side of the court: Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. Maybe next time you should read the ruling (or even the Wikipedia summary) before you open your mouth? Of course, that wouldn't have meshed with your talking points, so why bother to learn the facts when you can take a cheap shot?

    • by westlake (615356)

      They took the text of the law and decided that something that complied with the letter of the law was still in violation "because".

      Because -----

      Aereo was a community antenna system operating under the thinnest of legal and technical disguises and for CATV the rules have been clear at least since the mid-nineties.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why do people waste so much energy on TV?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      TV content has became so bad that even if they offered me a few buck to watch shows, I wouldn't be interested. What passes today as TV really sucks. What they need to do is produce a better product with less ads. As far as Aereo, again for what ? A better way to watch shit TV ? Funny stuff.

  • Aereo can certainly stream PBS and other must carry stations legally by this ruling.

    Please Aereo, continue carrying these streams while you work for a solution.

  • What they should have done is lease or sell the boxes to their subscribers and charge a monthly service fee to keep their boxes from being attacked by viruses, etc.

    That way they can't be sued for anything but installing commodity software at the owner's request.

  • This is why we can't have nice things.
  • Have one company that "rents" the antenna and provides a Software Defined Radio as a Service offering, where an API is simply provided to provision an antenna controller box which has its own IP address that listens on a specified frequency and bandwidth, compresses the bits, and streams them to the consumer.

    Then another company that makes a box, which integrates with this service and "selects" television channels, from the radio antenna provider who is acting as a common carrier for "capturing sign

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