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The Internet Television The Courts Technology

Aereo Wins Preliminary Injunction Hearing 65

bs0d3 writes "Aereo, a company that offers live broadcast TV via the internet to New York City residents, has won a preliminary injunction hearing. A federal judge has rejected a bid by major U.S. broadcasters to stop Aereo from rebroadcasting some of their programming over the Internet. District Judge Alison Nathan said that while the broadcasters have shown that they faced irreparable financial damage if the venture were allowed to continue, Aereo also showed it would face severe harm if the requested preliminary injunction were granted. The full injunction denial ruling can be found here."
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Aereo Wins Preliminary Injunction Hearing

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  • by killfixx ( 148785 ) * on Thursday July 12, 2012 @08:11AM (#40626735) Journal

    Why is it that the only way common sense can win, in court, is through some obscure technicality?

    Company X provides Service Y for free (with ads), but through an outdated or inconvenient method/medium. Company Z provides convenient access to Service Y, without changing the product, and Company X sues Company Z into oblivion.

    How was Company Z's product or service hurting Company X?


    Other than that, good luck to Aereo.

    As a side note, why don't more gadget manufacturers include tiny antennae in their products specifically for tuning in OTA TV?

    Is there some massive challenge that restricts this?

    • Yeah, something is missing here. My bet would the re-transmission fees. right now cable pays to re-transmit the signal. I bet Aereo is paying and broadcast TV is scared the cable companies will decide not to pay.

      The problem is the world is changing radically right now and many companies are in their death throws as their market is replaced. Broadcast TV is dead it just doesn't know it yet, same as Newspapers. What will ultimately replace them isn't clear, because the do provide a needed service of local ne

      • *Aereo ISN'T paying

        --sigh I need to learn to proofread before posting on /. :(

        • True, Aereo isn't paying the networks for the re-broadcast rights but they are shouldering the cost burden of the equipment, bandwidth, and software development involved which isn't inconsiderable. As long as Aereo isn't blanking out the advertisements, the networks get a much larger audience reach. It should be a win-win, symbiotic relationship. But, as noted, broadcast TV is dead and its executives are concerned about becoming redundant. Lately, I've been more interested in the Indie TV shows and podc
          • by Comen ( 321331 )

            I was amazed the first time I found out that local cable companies pay to rebroadcast a local station over the cable system, to me it seemed like a win/win and no one would need to pay anyone. If anything you would think the cable company is helping get the station to more people and that creates more customers watching comercials. I think many cable companies do insert their own comercials thou, but only in some places, so I can understand paying for that. It sounds like Aereo is just wanting to make money

        • by d3ac0n ( 715594 )

          --sigh I need to learn to proofread before posting on /. :(

          Yep. You and most /. posters. (myself included)

          Also, as long as we are on the topic, its "death THROES" not "death throws".

          The first means you are dying. The second implies you are playing a game of catch with the Grim Reaper.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        and the point is that the broadcast separation by region is going to be dead sooner or later.
        I could rent a box in n.y.c and do this for myself legally - so why couldn't I rent it from aereo? I could also view the signal as far as it broadcasts.

        • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

          and the point is that the broadcast separation by region is going to be dead sooner or later.
          I could rent a box in n.y.c and do this for myself legally - so why couldn't I rent it from aereo? I could also view the signal as far as it broadcasts.

          The broadcasters are going after Aereo because Aereo takes away much of the friction. If you want to rent a box in NYC yourself, you have to find a friend who is willing to set up and host the box and let you use his internet connection... and when his cat knocks the box off the table during your favorite show, you have to wait until he comes home to plug it back in. Some people may do this, but few do.

          Aereo takes care of setting up and supporting the "box" for you -- and for thousands of others.

    • Why include a TV tuner, FM radio, etc if you can get all of that over a normal network connection? Doing things that way means that you can get TV on any of your devices, not just the ones that have been built for it, or that you've hooked up to a USB receiver or whatever. I think what they're doing sounds like a good idea. If the cable companies or networks are upset, they should look into streaming their stuff directly online via a subscriber service.

      • they should look into streaming their stuff directly online via a subscriber service.

        Pay a subscription ... for something that's freely broadcast?

        • Well Areo are a subscription service. If they're "stealing" business from the cable company, then they have to do something to compete, or die. In the cable company's case, I guess it could require reducing their monthly costs. Individual channel's could look at providing a streaming service too. I'm not sure if they pay the cable companies or the cable companies pay them tbh.

    • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @08:25AM (#40626821)
      While the ads still get viewed, X no longer has the data to prove it. No marketing data means their ad-time is worth a lot less. It's also likely to cause legal complications for content (espicially sport) which X has licensed to broadcast only in a specific geographic area. In that case, the actions of Z could cause X to be unwittingly violating their contract with the producer of that content and so exposing X to liability.

      If you're looking for sillyness, ask why there are so many region-specific licences still in use not only in an increasingly globalised world, but even limiting some things to specific states or local areas. Sports are the biggest culprit here by far.
      • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @08:51AM (#40627011) Homepage

        They can prove people are watching ads on broadcast TV? How does that work...?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Only when people have specific boxes. Not that I agree with him though. I mean, i feel its probably easier to see what people are watching on a computer than on TV. Aereo probably has the capability of finding out what everybody is watching and when. More capability than cable even.

          • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

            Seeing how many computers are streaming something does not tell you how many people are watching that stream, what their ages are, what their income bracket is, etc. The current ratings system provides that information, which is way more important to advertisers then how many devices are receiving a broadcast.

        • One day soon, the set-top box or the TV itself will sense and communicate the proximity and number of viewers back to the Mothership. It will not be possible to disable this "feature", either with manual controls / software, or taping over a sensor... Opening up the TV / box and physically disabling the feature will brick your account... Didn't you read the contract and TOS you signed?

      • And how exactly do they prove that it was viewed when it was broadcast over the airwaves? Television signals, even the modern digital ones, are a one way transmission with no confirmation sent back from the receiver. They have relied on metrics like Neilson ratings to determine about how many people saw the ad, and I fail to see how the source of the stream, be it from a traditional antenna or over your cable or over your internet would make a difference to the Neilson Company.
        • Sampling. That's what Neilson does. They have boxes attached to TVs in a number of volunteer households, and calculate from that sample approximate national figures. Cable decoders can also report back what channels they have been tuned to at which times. You don't need every TV monitored, just enough that you can estimate with a reasonable margin of error the larger viewership. An unauthorised stream isn't viewed on a TV, so it isn't going to count on either metric, and even if the ads were viewed they can
          • by d3ac0n ( 715594 )

            Actually, getting sampling from Aereo would be even easier to get sampling from.

            All they need to do is update the client app with a bit of data reporting on ads viewed, collect that info and send it back to the broadcasters.

            It's not as though that's an unheard-of thing in today's world. In-game ads have been doing that for several years now, and they have a MUCH tougher row to hoe in determining if ads are being viewed and for how long. (have to calculate player "view" position in the game world, etc.)


      • by FullCircle ( 643323 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @09:25AM (#40627289)

        The broadcasters are probably terrified because their marketing data is mostly speculation. They also have to attempt to control the end location of content they have licensed or else other broadcasters will sue them for stepping on their market area.

        Aereo can tell what channels are being streamed at what times and could easily ask for demographics for targeted marketing. They can also send to mobile devices and offices where broadcast TV has very little uptake. Who carries a mobile receiver?

        Streaming is potentially a huge improvement for the television market but rather than change or add to their current business model, broadcasters as a group attempt to litigate themselves into relevance.

    • Other than that, good luck to Aereo.

      As a side note, why don't more gadget manufacturers include tiny antennae in their products specifically for tuning in OTA TV?

      Is there some massive challenge that restricts this?

      Based on the going rate for little USB-TV dongles (ATSC or DVB-T, depending on region) on ebay(obviously a OEM wouldn't shop there; but let's pretend that pacific-rim-bottom-feeder prices on ebay are vaguely correlated to actual-BOM-cost-for-something-not-totally-dreadful with savings from mass production) of $15-$25, depending on the phase of the moon, I'd assume that it's just the technically minor; but significant, issue of price sensitivity(and, in the UK market and any others with a similar setup, BBC

      • Makes me wonder if you could reasonably use SDR for both WiFi and DVB, or something like that.

        I know you need multiple antennae and filters and such, and you would only be able to do one at a time, but that's not a horrible restriction for a tablet

        • Probably easier now that(most of the world's) TV spits out a reasonably well characterized digital video streams once the messy RF bit is taken care of; but I'd still be surprised to see much in the way of savings from a standard wifi chip and a dedicated TV receiver. It might at least help deal with the zillion different slightly different regional/national standards in broadcasting. Probably wouldn't overcome the 'the apathetic won't care, and the enthusiastic will just buy slingboxes' issue, though.
    • by lkcl ( 517947 ) <> on Thursday July 12, 2012 @09:29AM (#40627333) Homepage

      As a side note, why don't more gadget manufacturers include tiny antennae in their products specifically for tuning in OTA TV?

      in china, the broadcast transmission signal strengths are so high that you can pick up a good signal with a bit of wet string (literally, not figuratively).

      however in the west the signal strengths are much much lower, and whilst attempts have been made to create digital receivers that are sensitive enough, they are either far too power-hungry or far too expensive. each of these things is incompatible with portable hand-held mass-volume devices.

      so this is why internet-based video transmission is so important. the signal can be sent across pre-established [semi-reliable] connections where the data rate can be tailored to the conditions. what i'm hoping is that this company will actually develop multi-level video CODECs and publish them as free software algorithms. it could happen.

  • How incredibly shortsighted of the broadcast networks! If Aereo wants to re-broadcast these stations over the internet, there is a strong potential advertising reach and it costs the networks absolutely nothing. NBC, CBS, FOX, et al could actually charge more money for advertising. The cost burden for doing this is solely on Aereo. I guess the human race is steadily becoming more and more stupid.
    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      Except that their ad rates are based on Neilsen ratings, which are obtained by using a special box to see what channel people are watching. If people are using this service, the ratings go down, not up, and ad rates fall with them. To counteract that you need a way to determine streaming viewership that is trusted by both the ad sellers and the advertisers, and their isn't one yet.

      • by d3ac0n ( 715594 )

        So decouple the rates from the ratings. Nielsen has been irrelevant for ages anyway. If you MUST use ratings, just use average rating by time slot. It's not THAT hard.

        • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

          What a brilliant idea! Just charge by time slot! Hey, we can have 'dead air' (except for ads) from 9-10PM and charge the same rate for ads as the channel that is running the number 1 show! And advertisers will willingly pay that rate!

          • by d3ac0n ( 715594 )

            They do. It's called "Infomercials".

            • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

              Sure, but that model only works when there is a single sponsor for a show, and the sponsor is solely responsible for the content of the show. With the exception of infomercials, that model has not been used in TV for a very long time, and it seems very unlikely to me that there are very many advertisers who want to be in the TV program production business.

              As soon as you move to a model where the advertiser is just 'buying time' during a show, the ratings of that show are the only thing that matter.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        To counteract that you need a way to determine streaming viewership that is trusted by both the ad sellers and the advertisers, and their isn't one yet.

        A trivially simple problem to fix. Technically, that is.

        Since Neilsen boxes are installed on consumer TV sets on a voluntary basis, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to create a Neilsen s/w package to log and report streaming views. And install that on select customers' Internet enabled viewing devices.

        But from a territorial point of view, that puts them square in the middle of Google (Apple, Microsoft and others) business models. I wouldn't be surprised if Neilsen, advertisers, content providers and other

    • It's a control and fear issue.

      What happens when Aereo becomes the dominant method for customers getting "OTA" signals? Then Aereo is in the position in dictating terms to the networks. Aereo could blead the them dry. Yes, that would also kill Aereo, but since NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX would kill the golden goose if they could, they assume that Aereo would as well.

      If your supplier would kill you if he could, then you must kill him before he can kill you. (If you can) Yes, killing your supplier kills
  • As long as they act like a fancy antenna for stuff you are in range of anyway, and don't mess with the signal like offering ad skipping, what's the problem?

  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @10:55AM (#40628059) Journal

    Last I checked the business model was broadcasters license content to get people to watch and then get paid by advertisers to show commercials during the that content. Advertisers pay more based on the expected number of eyeballs and demographic.

    If anything Aereo adds to the number of viewers, I am assuming the don't scrape the commercials out of the broadcast so I would think this would make the advertisers happy! If anything it should increase the stations revenue.

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      Of course it makes the advertisers happy, they are getting free ads. It is the people selling the ads that are not happy, because if anyone is free to retransmit their broadcast they have no way of knowing (and more importantly, 'proving') how many people are seeing the ads.

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        They don't know that anyway they have some dubious statistics purchased from another party based on questionnaire with much to small a sample size.

        • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

          It doesn't matter if the statistics are 'dubious' or not, they are accepted. Now, if you can convince the advertisers that they should pay more because you think that other services are retransmitting their ads, so obviously that is a benefit to them, go for it.

  • by rastoboy29 ( 807168 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:47PM (#40632021) Homepage
    I think it should be a rule of thumb that, if you put something out in public--via broadcast or the internet--it is now public.

    ie. you can't treat it as if it's some kind of proprietary thing.  Exactly how that would work might be open to some interpretation, but I just think pretending it's still under your control when you put it in public is just retarded.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong