Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Media The Media United States

Supreme Court To Hear Aereo Case 211

Posted by timothy
from the boston-strangler-can't-be-far-behind dept.
schwit1 writes "The Supreme Court will hear broadcasters' challenge to the legality of startup Aereo, in a case that may not only determine the future of digital streaming of station signals but of network television itself. Without comment, the justices on Friday agreed to accept ABC Television Stations vs. Aereo, in which the television networks are seeking to halt the Barry Diller-backed venture, contending that its offering of streams of station signals in New York and other markets violates the public performance provisions of the Copyright Act. Justice Samuel Alito took no part in the consideration of the petition, the court said, without elaborating. Typically such recusals are for a potential conflict of interest, and Alito has previously said that his family owned stock in the Walt Disney Co."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Supreme Court To Hear Aereo Case

Comments Filter:
  • I'm torn... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Friday January 10, 2014 @07:59PM (#45922549)

    ...and I'm sure my opinion will be torn to shreds for it.

    I firmly believe that what Aereo does is, strictly speaking, legal, but hardly fair play.

    Broadcast television got a pretty sweetheart deal: All of this spectrum is yours, just give us a little public interest news every day. The TV broadcasters use their ownership of the airwaves to produce content that'll get us to watch their sponsor's commercials.

    While there are obviously other ways to time and location-shift television, Aereo is essentially a leech on the system. They give nothing back to the content producers. It's hard to root for them unless your only goal is the collapse of broadcast television.

    • by alen (225700)

      maybe if they only rebroadcast to a TV, but doing it to devices well outside the tech limit of broadcasting will probably get them shutdown
      at the minimum they will probably have to shut the DVR service down

    • Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:06PM (#45922593)

      Aereo is essentially a leech on the system. They give nothing back to the content producers.

      Aren't they expanding the number of folks that have access to that content, and hence, the commercials?

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        My guess would be that the net number of viewers of OTA television drop as a result of Aereo, but that, yes, the total number of television viewers increases somewhat. Aereo probably brings in plenty of rural customers who wouldn't get NBC/CBS/ABC/FOX, but also probably also has a lot of urban customers who just want to time-shift.

        It's a clever idea, a cool service, an interesting business model, and part of why I'm torn about them.

        • Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Informative)

          by mysidia (191772) on Friday January 10, 2014 @10:50PM (#45923671)

          They are no more leeches than Cable companies and other rebroadcasters and bundlers.

          My guess would be that the net number of viewers of OTA television drop as a result of Aereo

          Since each of their customers are renting a physical antenna from Aereo Each viewer is an OTA viewer: the OTA signal is received by the physical antenna they are renting, and then encapsulated for streaming over the internet.

          There is no additional cost for the OTA broadcaster --- in fact, at some point, if all the OTA viewers are using Aereo, then the broadcaster could probably make a deal with Aereo to streamline their delivery, and reduce the number of kilowatts they need.

          Since Aereo is playing TV unmodified --- the viewers do see all the ads

          Since Aereo are only allowing viewers to join who are in the area of their antennas, and they restrict access based on IP addresses that geolocate to the broadcast area, they are not providing out-of-area viewers access to content.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        not with automatic commercial removal

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by tlambert (566799)

        Aereo is essentially a leech on the system. They give nothing back to the content producers.

        Aren't they expanding the number of folks that have access to that content, and hence, the commercials?

        See my other posting; commercial on broadcast television are typically a small percentage national brands, with the remainder being local advertisers within the broadcast area. Unless viewed in the broadcast area, the value of those commercials is Nil, and the network no longer gets paid proportionally to the number of actual viewers, only to the number of viewers within the area where the ads are applicable, and only then if those viewers are not viewing via Aereo (unless they are wiring Nielsen boxes int

        • Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by evilviper (135110) on Friday January 10, 2014 @09:25PM (#45923153) Journal

          Unless viewed in the broadcast area, the value of those commercials is Nil, and the network no longer gets paid proportionally to the number of actual viewers, only to the number of viewers within the area

          Aereo has gone to great lengths to ensure that nobody outside the broadcast footprint can access the content through Aereo. So your point is entirely moot.

        • The thing is, broadcasters aren't bringing this case over lost advertising revenue. And they're not bringing it over increasing the size of the broadcast area.

          They're bringing this case because if Aereo-like services lets people access the broadcasts within the broadcast area in more convenient ways, that means the broadcasters can't make as much money from selling more-convenient access to their content (e.g. by charging cable-TV retransmission fees, or making a deal with Time-Warner Cable to let subscr

      • Re:I'm torn... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by paiute (550198) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:46PM (#45922931)

        Aereo is essentially a leech on the system. They give nothing back to the content producers.

        Aren't they expanding the number of folks that have access to that content, and hence, the commercials?

        I use Aereo to watch football games while cooking. I see all the TV ads. Otherwise I would listen to it on the radio and hear the radio ads. Is that what the TV network wants?

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      It's hard to root for them unless your only goal is the collapse of broadcast television.

      Broadcasters seem to be doing a good enough job on their own with that, considering the amount of crap and Reality TV programming that they're running with these days. I had a fine chance to look at said broadcasters after a 8 year hiatus, and I'm pretty sure everything except for a couple of drama's, was reality tv, including on the specialty channels like discovery, mil-tv, and tlc.

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        ABC/NBC/FOX/CBS pretty much only produce 15 hours of programming a week anyway that isn't the nightly news or the Latenight Show.

        For the most part, the four broadcast networks have a pretty good suite of dramas and comedies. I think tier-1 cable has better shows, but most reality shows are saved for mid-season replacements and summer. [Cooking and Singing shows are the recent exception, but those 15 hours a week are pretty good.]

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          Well if you call it pretty good, I guess that's your taste. But it doesn't seem to jive with the droves of people cutting the cord from cable and satellite, or throwing it all including IPTV into the bin. Maybe Star Trek was right, and TV as a form of entertainment will die by the mid 21st century.

    • What does a viewer "give back"? Do they strip the commercials out? If not, they're giving their sponsors a wider audience.

    • Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:10PM (#45922629)

      Then again, if I understand the situation correctly the broadcasters aren't really losing anything. Broadcast TV gets its revenues through advertisements, there is no revenue flowing from the delivery of the product. In a way, broadcasters should be grateful that someone is helping them show their ads to even more people without costing them a dime. If they could figure out a way to get viewing figures from Aereo as a form of compensation, to bring to their advertisers as a basis for negotiating rates, they could have the cake and eat it too. If Aereo on the other hand was recording the broadcasts, stripping out the advertisements, and then streaming it on to consumers, that would be a whole other situation.

    • Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ebno-10db (1459097) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:10PM (#45922631)

      Aereo is essentially a leech on the system

      How? Broadcasting over the air is a way of distributing content. Aereo does exactly the same thing. Think of it as a repeater for the broadcast signals. The broadcasters should be happy that another party is helping to distribute their content. The broadcasters get paid via advertising revenues, which are proportional to the number of viewers. Why should they object to more viewers?

      • Re:I'm torn... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:32PM (#45922793) Journal

        They shouldn't. Except...

        First issue is that those viewers are time-shifting. The broadcasters hate that because some of their advertisers want the ads to be seen at that time. The great example being Thursday night, when the movie studios want to advertise movies opening that weekend. It doesn't do them as much good if I'm watching commercials meant for Thursday night on the next Monday or I'm watching Monday programming on Thursdays. Why should I, as an advertiser, pay extra for a Thursday night ad when there's no guarantee that the perspective customer will see it on Thursday night?

        Second issue is that those viewers are not being measured. Broadcast television is seeing it's viewership decline as people go do other things--including watching the programs that broadcasters are showing via other means. Remember that ad rates are set by how many people are measured watching the show. No measurement and you have no idea how many people are watching and, therefore, no clue as to how to set the ad rates.

        • Re:I'm torn... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Artifakt (700173) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:57PM (#45923013)

          First issue is that those viewers are time-shifting. The broadcasters hate that because some of their advertisers want the ads to be seen at that time.

          The broadcasters will only "hate"* it if the advertisers stop paying as much. Are there advertisers who think Aereo is reducing the number of viewers who see the ads at the 'right' time? Do they think that reduction is greater than the gain for having their name and product come to more people's attention at all? Can the broadcasters show where this has come up in negotiating prices? I ask, because the broadcasters don't seem to be using that as part of their case. If they have specific cash amounts they could point to, that's actual damages, and so far, the case seems to be about potential or statutory damages instead. Showing where a given advertiser has offered less because the time shifting makes that timeslot less valuable would be refreshing, as it would let the broadcasters claim damages based on a simple straight-forward calculation that wouldn't look like Hollywood accounting gone mad.

          * Hopefully, the broadcasters aren't sueing because they 'hate' anybody - lawsuits are supposed to be about making financial matters straight. Responsible adults don't sue becasue they hate someone and want to do whatever kind of damage they can to them, but to make the bottom line come out right. A civil trial is deliberately supposed to be an extraordinarily poor substitute for ripping someone's jugular out.

          • by Zynder (2773551)

            Responsible adults don't sue becasue they hate someone and want to do whatever kind of damage they can to them

            You, sir, owe me a new keyboard for that little gem. It's a Logitech G19 and now the LCD isn't working. You can expect your lawsuit by the end of next week :D

        • First issue is that those viewers are time-shifting. The broadcasters hate that ...

          Tough. The Supreme Court has already said that viewers have a right to time-shift, whether the broadcasters like it or not, in the context of recording of over-the-air signals directly received by the viewers. They're just re-fighting that battle because the context is enough different that they get another at-bat.

          Second issue is that those viewers are not being measured. ... Remember that ad rates are set by how many peopl

      • The broadcasters get paid via advertising revenues, which are proportional to the number of viewers. Why should they object to more viewers?

        The reason they're upset with Aereo is that cable TV companies pay broadcasters in order to carry the broadcast channels over cable. Alternatively, the broadcasters can compel the cable companies to carry the broadcast channels, but then they can't charge for them.

        If the Aereo model is legal, it's pretty likely that the cable TV companies will all stop paying broadcasters and will just use antenna farms, like Aereo does. This will seriously reduce the profits of broadcasters more than any additional viewers

    • Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:16PM (#45922691) Journal

      Broadcast television got a pretty sweetheart deal: All of this spectrum is yours, just give us a little public interest news every day.

      And that's why it's so easy to root for Aereo: Broadcast television got an absurdly sweet deal (one that, given the absolute shit that passes for 'news' they arguably aren't even honoring) on a very nice chunk of RF. Time for them to move.

      If 'broadcasting' over the internet is sufficiently lucrative that Aereo (a 3rd party that has to run a silly teeny-antenna farm for legal reasons) can make money, they can cut out the middleman and do that instead. But if they want to keep acting like a very nice chunk of the airwaves was just handed to them by god for their convenience, fuck 'em. I'll cheer Aereo every step of the way if they do, in fact, cause one or more of the broadcasters to follow through on their threat to take their ball and go cable only.

      (That said, I'm not actually sure that I believe your argument: Yes, Aereo doesn't provide anything back to the content producers; but neither does putting an antenna on my roof. And yet, sending free signals laced with ads to people with antennas turns out to be a functioning business model. Aereo doesn't actually detract from that, indeed, they increase the number of viewers within range of the signal, at no additional cost to the broadcaster. If they do have a financial effect, it's purely on the assorted shakedowns that govern the 'Must-carry [wikipedia.org]' rules on cable outfits, another absurdly sweetheart deal given to the broadcasters for, um, reasons. Or something.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mythosaz (572040)

        My argument is that I'm conflicted.

        Aereo's business plan is "stream NBC over the internet and get paid for it."

        It doesn't pass the sniff-test of what's kosher.

        • Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:41PM (#45922891)

          NO! And that's where you're missing the important point, Aereo's business model is 'rent antenna's, a DVR & bandwidth to allow a user to stream content they want from the available OTA signal anywhere the user wants'...Aereo's users are NOT paying for streaming NBC, CBS, ABC etc., if they were then indeed Aereo's business model would be copyright infringement. Consider that for it to be the case that Aereo were charging for 'streaming NBC over the internet' then all they'd ever need is to record 1 copy of the show for themselves, then make that available to all their users that is explicitly not what they do, every user is recording & streaming the particular station they want to watch, again they are renting the infrastructure not paying for the content.

          • Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by beanpoppa (1305757) on Friday January 10, 2014 @11:49PM (#45923963)
            It's basically Tivo, in the cloud. I could put a Tivo box in my house, hooked up to my antenna, and play Tivo $13/mo and watch/time-shift broadcast TV. Or, I can pay Aereo $8/mo for their DVR in the cloud, and do the same exact thing. What's the difference if the DVR is in my house, or remote? The difference with Aereo is that when I am away from my house, I can still watch my DVR. If Tivo+Slingbox is legal (which the courts have said is) then Aereo should be legal.
        • by russotto (537200)

          Aereo's business plan is "stream NBC over the internet and get paid for it."

          And cable's original business plan, when it was CATV, was "retransmit NBC via cable and get paid for it". 100% kosher, though the legal wrangling is STILL going on.

    • Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:24PM (#45922745)

      I firmly believe that what Aereo does is, strictly speaking, legal, but hardly fair play.

      That's the best kind of legal.

    • Re:I'm torn... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:33PM (#45922807)

      Your opinion shouldn't be 'torn to shreds', your welcome to your opinion, people simply might disagree with it. Specifically what exactly is Aereo doing that I can't do myself? I have an antenna at home able to tune in OTA content, I have a DVR attached to it from which I can record the station of my choice & then 'stream' it anywhere I want to on any device I want. It's 'black letter law' that I have the right to do this. To receive & record all the OTA stations available to me at once I need as many antennas as there are available stations but only 1 DVR & there's certainly no legal limitation on the number of antennas I can have. Now, what if a company sold me a device that had multiple antennas, receivers & 1 DVR that was located in my house from which I streamed the content? Now what if instead of selling it to me they rented it to me? Now just move those devices to a central location and you have Aereo's business model.

      Aereo is simply providing the infrastructure to do this in 1 location, they are 'renting' out the infrastructure that every user would otherwise have to buy and install at home, they are clearly NOT charging their users for content, they are charging for the infrastructure. In the process more users have access to the content, more eyeballs on the commercials, and thus the broadcasters in theory should be able to charge more for the commercials & this 'free content' that they are providing using the 'free (monopoly) spectrum' they were granted by the government.

      Sorry, Aereo is not leaching off of anyone, as always the Broadcasters missed an opportunity that was obvious to someone else with the technical know how & backing to do it & now they are scared of this somehow ruining their 'business model', the Broadcasters don't have a right over how I watch the content delivered OTA I hope the SC puts the smack down on them, it will be good for their ego.

    • Frankly, it probably is illegal. But it shouldn't be.

      Check out the history of cable TV (or Community Access Television - CATV - as it was once known). Basically, it started out with a big mountaintop antenna and feeding the broadcast signals down to a poor-reception valley. Essentially what Aereo would argue they're doing now, just they're using the Internet. It was the same progression - the broadcasters complained that the cable companies were mooching and not paying anything back, and the cablecos said "

      • Re:I'm torn... (Score:4, Informative)

        by mysidia (191772) on Friday January 10, 2014 @11:22PM (#45923841)

        I don't see how Aereo is any different than those cable providers who just were retransmitting from an antenna, and those cable providers have to ask permission.

        A few years ago, there was a precedent set by Cablevision that no retransmission consent required For a customer that rents an antenna.

        In ABC's petition [amazonaws.com]. They take issue with the fact, that Aereo is using a massive number of tiny coin-cell sized very inexpensive antennas mounted on a PCB

        Each customer gets an antenna, but they are dynamically assigned. Also, each customer's stream gets transcoded and saved to a customer-specific directory on shared hard drives.

        So at some point the customer's stuff is getting blended in some sense; the customer isn't renting 100% of the delivery infrastructure, only the antenna and some disk space used to receive their content.

        One of the arguments before the court is their system is engineered as a Rube Goldberg-like contrivance whose sole purpose is to attempt to circumvent the intent of Congress and the copyright law; in regards to, the requirement for consent to retransmission, AND the exclusive rights to public performance.

        • Re:I'm torn... (Score:4, Informative)

          by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@@@justconnected...net> on Saturday January 11, 2014 @01:04AM (#45924243)

          That's basically my point - the jurisprudence is this absurd mess because the law doesn't make much sense.

          I had this long paragraph that I elided because it was boring, but the gist of it was: Let's say you put an antenna on your roof - fine. What if you have land at the top of the hill that's blocking your reception, and you put the antenna there and run a cable down? Fine as well. What if you and your neighbor split the cost of a better antenna, and you run the cable to both houses? What if a whole block does this? What if you make people pay a subscription for the upkeep of this mess of coax?

          Eventually the line is crossed and it becomes illegal, but there's no obvious place to put that line. One answer is "when there's profit", but there's no legal basis for that since nothing they're doing is illegal in the absence of the Cable Act, which doesn't seem to have anything to do with profits (IANAL, of course).

          You (and me and the judges so far) have this mental model of people having antennas on their roofs, which is clearly OK. The law is clear that cable companies have to get permission, but the law isn't particularly good at excluding the other cases. Check out the definitions from the 1982 law [publicaccess.org], which are reused in the 1992 law - it looks like if you set up an antenna for 2 single-occupant houses (there is an exclusion only for MDUs), you'd have a 'cable system' and therefore be a 'cable operator'. The ruling will probably hinge on fairly boring and narrow interpretations of those terms - namely, is Aereo a cable system as defined (intentionally vaguely) by the law? Because if they are, it's clear that they are subject to the retransmission consent rule.

          Also, CBS can kiss my ass. They're pretty much the only ones trying to push this crap.

    • by real gumby (11516)

      I firmly believe that what Aereo does is, strictly speaking, legal, but hardly fair play...

      Aereo is essentially a leech on the system.

      I can't understand how they could be considered leeches:

      • They connect viewers to broadcasters that the broadcasters would not otherwise be able to reach, and at no extra cost to the broadcaster
      • They stand on their heads with this crazy device so that each subscriber has an antenna, same as if the antenna were directly attached to the subscriber's TV.

      In what way is this being a "leech"? If anything it's a service to the local broadcaster. In fact if you think of it, if Aero becomes successful, the broadcas

      • by kqs (1038910)

        Currently, local viewers who cannot get an OTA signal need to buy cable or satellite. Local stations get paid per subscriber for cable and satellite viewers. Aero does not pay this extra fee.

        Local stations could improve their broadcast range to covert the cable/Aero/satellite viewers. This would cost money and would lose them the extra fees.

        There is a leech involved. I do not think it is Aero.

        • by real gumby (11516)

          Interesting. <joke>Sounds like the broadcasters should just switch off their towers and collect the cable fees.</joke>

          (I assume the fee comes from some sort of "must carry" in the area supposedly reached by the towers, and if they switched off the towers the cable providers would simply drop them.)

    • Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by evilviper (135110) on Friday January 10, 2014 @09:18PM (#45923125) Journal

      I firmly believe that what Aereo does is, strictly speaking, legal, but hardly fair play.

      What the broadcasters do is quite unfair, but technically legal as well.

      Aereo is essentially a leech on the system. They give nothing back to the content producers.

      They delivery YOUR eyeballs to the networks and their advertisers. You might go watch YouTube instead, if Aereo didn't exist.

      What broadcasters are worried about is cable retransmission fees, which has nothing to do with Aereo. Viacom wants to keep your cable company paying obscene amounts of money for channels like Nickelodeon and MTV, and threaten to pull their local CBS channel if they don't agree. Broadcast television was never supposed to work that way. Aereo is breaking that model.

      I consider Aereo a valuable service for people like me who are out in the fringes... If I spend $200 on an antenna system, I can get most, but not all, of my local channels, with minor breakups. That same money will pay for Aereo for quite a while. It can also save me from buying a DVR as well, though I must admit, those are getting dirt cheap, these days. [walmart.com]

      And while I can make an antenna work over time, renters without dedicated private roof space (see: FCC) may not be in a position to do so in any case. Those same renters may also not be in a position where they can get satellite service, either. Then it's just a question of being at the mercy of the local cable company, or not having TV, without Aereo.

      • *What broadcasters are worried about is cable retransmission fees, which has nothing to do with Aereo. Viacom wants to keep your cable company paying obscene amounts of money for channels like Nickelodeon and MTV, and threaten to pull their local CBS channel if they don't agree. Broadcast television was never supposed to work that way. Aereo is breaking that model.*

        Then let the model break. I'm tired of region-locking DVD or BD discs, not being able to watch something because I'm not in the US, not being ab

    • FCC and CRTC are already helping the collapse of free broadcast TV. They took away ch70-83 for cell phones during the 80s and 90s. They did it again recently (52-69 has been reallocated for 700Mhz cell phone bands). And they also removed 2-6 on VHF (big loss for long-range reception when not line-of-sight). Guess what will go when cell phone companies want more spectrum? probably 40-51.

      Aereo leases an antenna and a DVR, nothing more. People might be unable/unwilling to install an antenna on their home. The

    • Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 10, 2014 @09:47PM (#45923285) Journal

      Uhh...its the broadcasters themselves that are screwing things up frankly. I mean there is ZERO reason why in 2014 that I shouldn't be able to just go to a webpage and watch my local TV stations, which just FYI I currently can't watch at all because the only way to get a signal here is to get the super to crawl on the roof and set up an antenna and he's backed up a good half a year, but instead they not only don't let the local stations simply stream the same broadcast they are currently showing on the web but thanks to their butt kissing the cablecos you can't even go to the network website and watch same day. meanwhile I can just pirate it and have it commercial free less than 2 hours after broadcast...now which do you think I'm gonna choose?

      If they don't get on the damned ball soon there won't be anybody to watch their shit anyway...you talk to the young folks lately? In my shop I talk to young folks every day and I can't remember the last time I talked to a person under 30 that even watched TV, they have all gone to the net and aren't gonna be tethered to some TV at 9,8 central just to watch a damned show. If they don't make things Aereo easy when the current gen dies off its gonna be AM radio, a niche so tiny nobody gives a shit.

    • by N0Man74 (1620447)

      I can't believe all the technologies out there that allow viewers to circumvent messages from advertisers. It's truly an outrage! For example, have you heard about the "toilet"? Apparently, many people use it whenever there's a commercial. How insidious!

  • by djhertz (322457) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:32PM (#45922795)

    I live within the broadcast range of Boston but due to a hill I'm on (and weather) I only get one or two channels at best. I like to watch American football and having the signal drop in the middle of a play just stinks. Aereo allows me to watch (and pause/record) shows I would normally get fed up with and just not watch. It's a great service to mesh with Netflix/Amazon Streaming/etc. since you get sports and live news. We really like it.

    As to why the broadcasters are against Aereo I guess there could be concern about timeshifting, etc. But if I did get solid reception OTA I could just use any DVR to do pause and recording, or even a VCR (ok not a VCR, no TV is worth using one of those again).

    Overall I see Aereo, Netflix, etc. as the future. Much like mp3s and digital streaming are the media for music. It would probably be best for the broadcasters to try and figure out how to best make it all work. I still don't understand why a broadcaster would not want Aereo to 'repeat' their signal, w/o it I would not be able to watch the shows, hence not view the commercials.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      As to why the broadcasters are against Aereo I guess there could be concern about timeshifting, etc.

      They are against Aereo because currently the broadcasters get paid by the cable companies that carry their local content, but if what Aereo is doing is legal then the cable companies may decide to do the same thing and stop those payments.

      Effectively it puts in a cap on the amount that the local broadcasters can charge cable companies, and that cap will go down as technology gets progressively cheaper.

  • by American Patent Guy (653432) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:32PM (#45922797) Homepage

    ABC does not own the content that it broadcasts: it licenses it from the original authors/producers. That license permits it to distribute the content over the airwaves with the payment of a fee.

    Think about it this way. Suppose I wrote a play. I would have both (1) a right to prevent others from copying my written work (the script) and (2) a right to prevent others from performing that play if they got a copy of the script. If I permit a playhouse to perform the play, that playhouse can limit the viewing of the licensed performance to those inside the building. Here, ABC is broadcasting its content to the public: it's like a playhouse that has no walls that anyone from the street can enjoy. The playhouse's recourse is to perform the play inside an enclosed building, and ABC's recourse is arguably to distribute its content to those under contract, which it cannot do over the public airwaves.

    Now, if ABC owns the original rights in what it broadcasts, the story is different. In that case it can sue as the holder as the copyright, rather than the holder of merely a license. Even then, arguably ABC has granted everyone with access to broadcasted content an implied license to view it, and forward the content to another location as apparently Aereo does. What Aereo would then be doing is merely a "fair use" of that broadcasted content, which is specifically permitted by the copyright statutes.

    • ABC does not own the content that it broadcasts: it licenses it from the original authors/producers.

      Come again [wikipedia.org]? The rule requiring broadcast networks to license all prime-time programming from third parties [wikipedia.org] was abolished two decades ago.

      Now, if ABC owns the original rights in what it broadcasts, the story is different. In that case it can sue as the holder as the copyright, rather than the holder of merely a license.

      In practice, as I understand it, the exclusive licensee of a work in a particular market has remedies under the law very close to those of the owner of copyright.

  • by EvilSS (557649) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:52PM (#45922987)
    These lawsuits against Aereo are about money, and really not even about getting money from Aereo but from cable operators. Networks and their affiliate stations pull in huge amounts of cash from rebroadcast deals. The Aereo model threatens to cut that cash flow off. Several cable companies are already looking to copy Aereo and do a one-antenna-per-customer model to provide local stations, and avoid paying carriage fees. That's billions of dollars the networks could lose. That is why they want to kill this model dead and quickly.
  • by real gumby (11516) on Friday January 10, 2014 @08:59PM (#45923019)

    If you read the plaintiff's pleading before the court (quoted here [arstechnica.com]):

    The decision below has far-reaching adverse consequences for the broadcast television industry, making the need for this Court’s review urgent and acute. The decision already is having a transformative effect on the industry. Industry participants will not and cannot afford to wait for something of this magnitude to percolate before responding to new business realities. And once Aereo’s technology is entrenched and the industry has restructured itself in response, a ruling by this Court in Petitioners’ favor will come too late. The disruption threatened by Aereo will produce changes that will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.

    They are explicitly saying "our business is changing and we want the courts to stop things because creative destruction [wikipedia.org] is unfair." They are not even pretending that they are trying to do something in the public's interest; they are nakedly asking the court to save the entrenched interest. Pathetic assholes.

  • Aereo gives each individual subscriber their own antenna. That's not broadcasting, it's "singlecasting" at most, but really just time and location shifting.

    And besides, if customers are subscribing to for content they can't otherwise get because of where they live, who's losing money here?

    • And besides, if customers are subscribing to for content they can't otherwise get because of where they live, who's losing money here?

      (stretching...) The travel industry is losing money from people who would otherwise travel to view works unavailable in their home markets.

  • I'm rather tired an annoyed how SCOTUS can wreck and change laws by simply interpreting them differently.

    Yes sometimes they rule in societies best interests. As they legalized being gay.
    Example, Texas tells the court Its legal to be gay but not have gay sex, SCOTUS's comment "and the difference is?" and now being gay is legal.

    Eminent domain and how they think the public use now means private use as in developers taking land is ok. And being paid fair market value? No, sorry.

    The Whitehouse went to SCOTUS fo

    • And being paid fair market value? No, sorry.

      Got a case cite for that? AFAIK while it doesn't infringe the 5th Amendment for governments to take land using eminent domain for private development, there is still an obligation to pay what the property is worth. And if the initial price isn't good enough for the owner (which is usually), the owner can always sue for more.

  • Does anybody really think that there is actually one antenna per customer? And that that antenna is hooked up to a particular DVR? And that that antenna and DVR are connected to just one customer?

    I just can't and don't believe it. The 'antenna array' is surely a prop, and the DVR has to be a rack of shared servers.

  • This war is already over.

    If big TV prevails, they will have successfully defended a dying business model which they will use to insulate themselves from having to evolve in what is a very evolving world, and they will die, frustrated and alone, isolated from the audiences.

    If Aereo and the others prevail, they will usher in a new era of content that no longer needs as many middlemen to deliver it, and old broadcast media will wither and die.

    Either way, the old way dies. They have received the Hokuto Dan Kot

    • by EvilSS (557649)

      If Aereo and the others prevail, they will usher in a new era of content that no longer needs as many middlemen to deliver it, and old broadcast media will wither and die.

      No middle men except for the networks, who buy the shows from the producers? Or the broadcasters they are picking the signal up from? Or Aereo themselves (or other companies that follow their model), who you are paying to relay that broadcast (from the local broadcaster) to your device?

      Seems to me the Aereo model adds a middle man to the equation. They (Aereo) literally can't exist without the old broadcast media.

  • I guess it would take a litigator to notice this, but it's quite unusual that a preliminary injunction denial would be getting this kind of appellate attention.

    In the first place, it was unusual for an interlocutory appeal to be granted from the denial of the preliminary injunction motion. In federal court usually you can only appeal from a final judgment.

    Similarly, apart from the fact that it's always rare for a certiorari petition to be granted, it's especially tough where the appeal is not from a final
  • The summary mentioned Justice Alito recusing himself because of his family's stock in Disney (which owns ABC) and it makes perfect sense to recuse in this case.

    But what if the judge had owned stock in CBS or FOX instead? Would he still have recused himself? A ruling in support of Aereo might negatively impact the stock price of corporations not directly related to the case. So the fact that a judge owns stock, regardless of it's connection to the current case, can lead to bias.

    I propose we ban all judges an

    • I propose we ban all judges and congress members from owning stock during their term in office.

      I would have to imagine that the intersection of the set of "People who don't own stock" and "People who are qualified to be judges" is vanishingly small.

The amount of weight an evangelist carries with the almighty is measured in billigrahams.

Working...