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Television The Courts The Internet The Media Your Rights Online

Major Networks Suing To Stop Free Streaming 250

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 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.

  • 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: []

  • by hodet ( 620484 ) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:45PM (#39675419)
    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 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 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 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.

  • 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 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 sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:00PM (#39677753) Homepage Journal

    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.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen