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Television Cloud The Courts

Aereo To SCOTUS: Shut Us Down and You Shut Down Cloud Storage 342

jfruh (300774) writes "Aereo is currently fighting for its life before the Supreme Court, and has issued a warning: if you take us down, you could take the entire cloud storage industry down with us. The company argues that they only provide customers with access to shows picked up by an individual antenna that they've rented. If the constitutes a 'public performance,' then so does the act of downloading a copyrighted document stored in a cloud storage service — even if the customer has purchased the right to use that document." v3rgEz sent in a link to the transcript of the first day of arguments.
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Aereo To SCOTUS: Shut Us Down and You Shut Down Cloud Storage

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @01:33PM (#46825319)

    What matters is clout. Both and Google did a similar thing. was destroyed utterly, while Google faced a little bit of RIAA finger waggle.

    I doubt this will affect anything cloud-wise.

  • How many? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @01:36PM (#46825335)

    Just how many industries will we allow the content industry to ruin in its death throes before we finally get wiser?

  • by Jmstuckman ( 561420 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @01:43PM (#46825395) Journal

    From a legal basis Aereo's business model seems sound to me -- all they're doing is helping me receive a broadcast TV transmission which I'm entitled to receive over the airwaves anyway.

    On the other hand, a ruling in Aereo's favor would be a boon for the cable companies and could kill the concept of free, broadcast TV altogether. As things stand, the cable companies pay the networks to retransmit feeds of their programming. If Aereo wins, the cable companies would be able to save money by erecting Aereo-style antenna arrays for their cable feeds, bypassing payments to the networks.

    As things stand, cable customers are getting screwed because they're paying the broadcasters for the same programming twice -- once in the form of advertisements, and again by paying for the network broadcast feeds. On the other hand, by using my own antenna, I'm receiving dozens of free channels which are being subsidized by the cable customers. If Aereo prevails, broadcasters may terminate over-the-air broadcasts altogether to avoid losing their lucrative royalties from the cable companies, leaving me out in the cold.

  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @01:46PM (#46825427)

    the cable companies would be able to save money by erecting Aereo-style antenna arrays for their cable feeds

    This is how 'cablevision' used to work. They'd put up a big antenna that could pull down signals you couldn't and then distribute the signal around a town, for a fee.

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @02:13PM (#46825707) Homepage

    Suppose I rent an apartment in New York, and I setup an antenna to pick-up New York broadcasts. Then I stream those broadcasts to my TV at home. Have I illegally retransmitted the signal and I need to pay a licensing fee?

  • by Scot Seese ( 137975 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @02:16PM (#46825725)

    As I see it, both parties are missing incredible opportunities.

    Let's Judo-flip this conversation.

    Broadcasters earn revenue from advertising. Aero is faithfully streaming content including all advertising to their customers. Clearly what is needed is a partnership for Aero to report viewer demographics back to broadcasters, who can pad onto their numbers when selling ads.

    Aero is charging too little for their service. Their model is stupid. They are trying to counter cable carriers charging $50, 60, 100+/mo with a service that's $8 and $12. Aero should charge $29 and kick $15 per customer per month to the cable carrier(s) in the market in which each customer resides. Aero is then in the infrastructure business. The cable companies get build out absolutely free, without having to sink billions of dollars into last mile wiring of neighborhoods, and Aero gets massive revenue stream in a highly symbiotic relationship. For Aero customers, the cable company is is the content licensing and resale business - and the best part - they don't have to service & support those customers, Aero does.

    Addtionally, if Aero has such a wonderful idea, there is nothing stopping Comcast from doing exactly the same thing. What is more expensive - the cost of bandwidth, or the cost of pulling copper, telephony or fiber to every house * N tens of millions of customers? Bandwidth is down for a few cents per gigabyte streamed now. How much does a nationwide fiber buildout cost?

    This case is really about constipated thinking and reactionary fear in the face of changing climate.

  • Re:Prediction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ratboy666 ( 104074 ) <> on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @02:42PM (#46826051) Journal

    What a strange thing! I guess I am allowed to time-shift broadcast TV, and I am allowed to space-shift broadcast TV. I can rent an antenna, and I can rent a VCR (PVR).

    I cannot retransmit (time or space shifted or not) a broadcast to other parties (which is the difference here CATV rebroadcast to all CATV clients).

    Now I have to read the arguments! About the only thing left is having an agent do the time or space shifting for me! And, of course, I can't really figure out is why the AGENT is in court for this. If my neighbour asks me to rent her some roofspace and rent her an antenna AND a VCR and then asks me to record a TV show... for which I may charge a bit for the service. And the TV network comes after someone, why would that be me? I would be inclined to laugh.

    I think my lawyer would have a good laugh too. We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram.

    I guess I am not allowed to sell my labour freely in the USA. Now I REALLY have to follow this. I am personally guilty of renting antennas, and PVR (equivalent) to provide people with recordings. I never pressed a "record" button -- my customer went on-line to a web page and selected the recording themselves (using MythTV 10 years ago). I would deliver the recorded program(s) via disk drives or flash drives.

    After all, if I have multiple tuners and I am not using them all, why CAN'T I RENT THEM OUT.

    The only problem would have been an event like the "Superbowl" where I would have needed to have ALL my tuners capturing the same content. Instead of being efficient, you know, and sharing... Because WHERE the bits come from is important in Copyright law. See []

    As long as Aereo uses an antenna and receiver PER USER, the bits should be the right colour. And subject to the users rights. Including time and space shifting. Aereo wouldn't be rebroadcasting. IF Aereo IS IN THE WRONG then the question is why. As far as I can tell, they are not even being an agent for the user. They are simply renting an antenna and receiver. The actual Copyright material is NOT being shared, from Aereo's perspective. And yes, cloud storage would be at risk. For example, I quite enjoy using Kobo. I may purchase a book from Kobo WHICH IS Copyrighted. Of course. I then download to my reading device. The bits have the right colour at Kobo's end, and they have the right colour at my end. I should be able to do with those bits ANYTHING that Copyright law permits me to. And I do. There is no DRM in OTA broadcast, and typically there is DRM in Kobo electronic books. If *I* turn around and share the book, Kobo wouldn't be legally liable. The author would come after me for that. So why is Aereo being attacked here?

    If the bits are simply coloured "copyrighted" and it IS authorized to the user, what else should Aereo do? Simply, Kobo is selling access to authorized bits as well, and would be AT THE SAME RISK. And, it goes deeper. Since Copyright is automatically assigned on creation, you would have NO IDEA what is ok to look at, here or touch.

    Colour me completely confused.

  • Pirate bay (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @03:00PM (#46826319)

    I just want to point out to any Aereo users that should they get shut down, you can still go back to the Pirate bay and start real piracy again. It's a lot easier than this nonsense, all the commercials are edited out for you already AND if you thought you were sticking it to the broadcasting industry before, you'd really be sticking it to them now.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @03:09PM (#46826429)
    Whether you've been sued is irrelevant to whether it's legal. The Supremes deal with legality, not enforcement.

    And the argument isn't binding. The Supremes can find against Aereo and state "the lack of a *formal* agreement and that the content was not uploaded securely by the user himself makes this a distribution by Aereo, and thus a valid legal tort" both making Aereo illegal and securing Cloud for everyone else. The fact that the argument was raised just means it will likely be addressed in the finding.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley