×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Major Networks Suing To Stop Free Streaming

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the importing-business-model-from-the-1970s dept.

Television 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.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

250 comments

First? If the public airwaves are free already (4, Interesting)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (4, Informative)

hodet (620484) | about 2 years ago | (#39675081)

I assume the place shifting thing is a problem. The article mentions you rent antennas from Aero which to me would mean that you could get local area streams no matter where you live. I can already stream my own local area OTA with a Slingbox, not sure if that is also a problem for the Networks. But this seems to take it a bit far. I admit I read this quickly and may be missing something here.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675273)

Generally speaking, if someone is rebroadcasting content, they have to pay a licensing fee. A Slingbox is okay because it's your own device rebroadcasting to you--fair use. The issue against Aero is that it's Aero's device rebroadcasting to you. However, since Aero has dedicated antennas for each user, it's essentially a remote Slingbox system for freely available broadcast. Hopefully the courts will see it as such and Aero doesn't go bankrupt from fighting this.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (2, Interesting)

hodet (620484) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#39675807)

I've always found it ironic that cable TV got its start rebroadcasting OTA feeds to places with lousy reception(much against the preferences of the OTA broadcasters); but once it received government sanction and came into some money of its own, swiftly re-positioned itself as a crusading champion of the absolute dominion of broadcasters...

These Aereo chaps are virtually identical, in terms of business model, to the original cable guys(except that they are bending over backwards to accommodate the absurdities of the law by having an individual antenna in a huge array for each subscriber...

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (5, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 2 years ago | (#39675527)

Hopefully the courts will see it as such and Aero doesn't go bankrupt from fighting this.

I think Aero going bankrupt from this is the general idea behind the lawsuit.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39675649)

You have to ask if their transmission constitutes a broadcast.

After all, with AEREO you rent an antenna in NYC, and send it by TCP/IP over the internet. Its not that much different than sending it from the roof to your basement lair over a wire. You just have a really long antenna lead. Its exactly the same thins as a Slingbox hooked up to your roof antenna.

Big media doesn't care about this as long as Aereo stays in one market, but they know that the internet gives Aereo a long antenna lead to anyplace.

So yeah, its market control, but really its the fact that someone else found a way to make money off of the OTA feed. We can't have that now can we?

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#39675977)

I get the impression that Team Content wishes to operate under the legal theory that anything that happens to their precious content without their permission is illegal, period.

They'd probably still be upset if somebody were using a clever arrangement of metallized balloons to bounce the RF from the New York broadcast region to wherever they wanted it... The fact that the filthy, filthy, internet, with its pernicious pirates is involved just drives them into a blind rage.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39676079)

I can already stream my own local area OTA with a Slingbox, not sure if that is also a problem for the Networks.

It's actually called a Kaiserbox.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (4, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | about 2 years ago | (#39675145)

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.

Good luck with that studios. Worked great for the music companies.... oh wait, no it didn't, they're owned by Apple now because Apple sells most of their music and the music companies could not survive without Apple.

So sue away... until another Apple ends up owning you because you flatly refused to give customers what we're begging for and willing to pay for, an easy way to watch every TV ever created on every media device we own.

If it wasn't for the stupidity of the music companies trying to sue napster and everyone there would have been no iPod, iTunes, iPhone or Android, because had the music companies made their own store and sold music then Apple would have never made billions off iTunes

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (5, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | about 2 years ago | (#39675167)

The Networks make deals based on the assumption that those airwaves are only accessible from in certain areas. Advertisers may or may not pay different fees based on the "market" their commercial would reach. It's a legitimate concern.

A lot of these slow-changing old companies are trying to shoe-horn the world to fit their aging business models. They really should be adapting to the new realities of Technology in the Modern World. The market is shifting, and clinging to old revenue streams is merely going to put them behind.

Lawsuit or no, their real concern should be the viability of their business model in a quickly evolving World.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about 2 years ago | (#39675335)

I believe it is a legitimate concern IF and ONLY IF people that stream from the iPads even watch commercials to begin with. What are the studios going to do next? Sue all the people that don't watch advertisements?

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675701)

I thought they tried that with TiVo.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#39676113)

I believe it is a legitimate concern IF and ONLY IF people that stream from the iPads even watch commercials to begin with. What are the studios going to do next? Sue all the people that don't watch advertisements?

As saith Jamie Kellner, Chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting: "[Ad skips are] theft. Your contract with the network when you get the show is you're going to watch the spots. Otherwise you couldn't get the show on an ad-supported basis. Any time you skip a commercial or watch the button you're actually stealing the programming."

People who living outside of Jamie's delusional universe don't actually remember signing any contracts, much less any that meet the requirements of hundreds of years of contract law precedent, to watch OTA broadcasts; but it isn't a big secret that the broadcasters would love to...

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (3, Informative)

dmacleod808 (729707) | about 2 years ago | (#39675437)

Obviously neither you or anyone else in this thread did a little research... From Aereo's webpage: "Aereo is available exclusively in New York City"

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (1)

dmomo (256005) | about 2 years ago | (#39675915)

I did read it. The "market area" case was just an example of the type of thing that would appear in a contract with advertisers. There are certainly many other terms and factors in the deals they make, and disruptive Technology like this affects those deals.

So, again. To the networks; this is a legitimate concern. I didn't pretend to defend or promote the reasons for this concern. My aim was to simply answer a question brought up with the parent post. No need to be righteous with your snitty comment. Noting that the service is available in New York only, sufficiently adds to the conversation.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (5, Insightful)

cforciea (1926392) | about 2 years ago | (#39675195)

I think they have a couple of reasons for this lawsuit. First, they don't want any precedents set. A portion of this lawsuit is actually about how it is being streamed; specifically, there is a 1:1 ratio of antennas and users, and Aereo claims they are protected because they are just a long wire between the antenna and the user. If that argument holds for free over-the-air programming, it might be used later to protect streaming of something that is not quite so free. Also, they are probably worried about losing out on revenue from selling people the programming if they don't see it for free over the air when it broadcasts (or via DVR). They want additional advertising value to go to re-runs rather than disappearing into this system, and they are possibly scared it will hurt things like DVD/iTunes sales. They want to be in control as much as possible of any format swapping you do.

Personally, I think they are shooting themselves in the foot, in that I bet they could negotiate advertising revenue by leveraging these additional live viewers, and this adds to the ever-increasing perception that the old school broadcasters are unfriendly to viewers because they can't keep up with the times, but those are of course the typical mistakes these people make anyway, so it isn't surprising.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39676013)

A portion of this lawsuit is actually about how it is being streamed; specifically, there is a 1:1 ratio of antennas and users,

A legal lillypad at best.

You know that if this court challenge is shot down, that there will be one antenna per station, and one Singe-cast TCP/IP feed per end user (for a little while), and then there will be one Multicast TCP/IP feed per station. (Single-Cast does not scale).

This is market killing technology. The gene is out of the bottle (again). Big Media might as well try negotiations, or settle for the increased advertising reach.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675221)

From the article (heresy, I know, that's why I remain anonymous), the largest portion of the complaint seems to be that Aereo is bypassing the license fees that satellite and cable redistributors pay. There are a number of potential angles of attack that the broadcasters will attempt, but the motive appears to be that Aereo is avoiding the redistribution fees.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (2)

jank1887 (815982) | about 2 years ago | (#39675913)

just remember, the first 'cable' systems were just that: some guy put a good antenna way up on a hill or mountain near town where it could get good reception of the nearest broadcasts, and it would 'redistribute' that signal down to the town. I.e., Community Antenna Television (CATV). It was only a bit later that they cabled content directly from the broadcast station. I'm not sure at what point they found a way of imposing a redistribution fee, but if they have grounds for it, and Aereo is claiming to be doing the same thing people did 60 years ago and paid fees for... methinks they'll have to pay fees too.

It ain't new just 'cause you're using the internet.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39676075)

From the article (heresy, I know, that's why I remain anonymous), the largest portion of the complaint seems to be that Aereo is bypassing the license fees that satellite and cable redistributors pay. There are a number of potential angles of attack that the broadcasters will attempt, but the motive appears to be that Aereo is avoiding the redistribution fees.

They could care less about the fees. (The increased reach of the advertising revenue offsets that by a lot).

If this goes viral, they lose all control of anything broadcast-ed OTA in every city, and every country.

This is about control.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (5, Insightful)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | about 2 years ago | (#39675241)

'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.'"

That is the key sentence, I believe. Back when TNN, I think it was them?, tried streaming their cable services to iPads there were comments from the industry that this was causing an up roar. Some being so blatantly honest to admit they were fast nearing the point of no longer even knowing what qualified as a "television". How much of the industry is built around a dumb box which displays images they send to it?

What does it do to the industry now that televisions are increasingly becoming glorified computer monitors for watered-down/specialized computers? How much more is the line blurred when you can get television easily on your computer devices? This sounds like they are trying to halt the coming computer/television singularity by keeping television away from clearly computer devices.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#39675597)

At some point it isn't going to matter. When you get a company like Apple with vast amounts of cash reserves and basically it's own distribution system, the lights will go on and the decision will be made to start creating more content. While the networks and the major studios try to control when you can watch something and where you can watch it, the new media will simply come in, start delivering people what they want, and it will be irrelevant.

These guys are literally fiddling while Rome burns. Each step along the way they make themselves more and more irrelevant. Hell, I haven't actually sat down and watched an actual TV show from our satellite in a couple of weeks, and the wife and I are seriously contemplating just ditching it entirely. We're paying like a $100 a month for bad TV, boring sports and the same movies shown again and again and again.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39675727)

Netflix already has one series. It is good if you are not too stupid to read some subtitles and will be bringing back Arrested Development next year.

Hopefully apple does the same thing, as should amazon.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675379)

It is about distribution. The media companies want to be able to get consumers to pay time and again for the same content. In their view each outlet or distribution path of the same content represents a different product. So...watching at home and watching a digital download of the same content, to them, represents two separate, different products.

Or as they said '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.' In other words, we can't sell you the same thing and get you to pay again and again. This is why the DVD/BD comes with a 'bonus' digital download, they see it as a SEPARATE product bundled with the disk, not as just another version of the SAME product.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39676055)

The media companies want to be able to get consumers to pay time and again for the same content.

This is content they're already sending to consumers free, over the air.
Consumers paying for it has nothing to do with it.
They're just bothered someone else is making money doing something they're unwilling to do.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39675471)

They are on uncharted legal ground here, mostly because they employ new technology.

From TFA:

Instead, Aereo has deployed a small forest of baby antennas, which users rent from Aereo. Chet Kanojia, the company’s chief executive, said the business model of providing a remote antenna for a user is “consistent with over-the-air broadcasting.” He said “it doesn’t require licensing.”

The thing is, even a Cable Company needs permission to pick up a local station and rebroadcast it. There are fees involved, even for mandatory must-carry stations.
But Aereo is claiming they are exempt from these because they just capture over the air broadcasts that anyone could pick up. Presumably they transmit it, ads and all in real time.

Broadcasters claim they lose control of their content. After all, if this goes viral, time-zones and markets mean nothing any more. There is no technical reason you couldn't watch a NYC show/event in Tokyo, or London. The internet has a long reach. Local Licensing deals are now world wide in scope.

An Example: Major League Baseball may not broadcast that Yankee's home game on any given Saturday, but someone living in Tampa may want to watch it. Because of national contracts MLB has signed, only local broadcasts of local games are allowed on some Saturdays. Or maybe the Yankees suck so bad they can't fill their seats. (ok, it could happen I suppose), and because of this they locally black-out the game. In an Aereo world, NYC subscribers could just pick up the feed from visiting team's city.

Aereo could not get that programming from any other source. But they can pick it up over the air and transport it beyond licensed markets or into embargoed markets.

So that's the rational for the challenge. (not saying its right).

Never mind that a private slingbox that you set up in NYC market could already give you the same capabilities, the mere fact that someone is doing this as a business model (they eventually plan to charge for it) and doing it on a grand scale is just more than big media can swallow. You know damn well that if the big media companies had developed this technology it would be fine, but because someone else did it, they have to rush in and stomp it out.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | about 2 years ago | (#39675509)

another dying industry trying to sue its way out of extinction. the revolution will not be televised because it is television.

Re:First? If the public airwaves are free already (3, Insightful)

similar_name (1164087) | about 2 years ago | (#39676019)

As far as I'm concerned if a network doesn't want me watching their ads then it's no skin off my back. Networks make money by providing content and selling ads. However, it seems they are more concerned with controlling how I watch their content and ads. I understand they charge different rates for different markets. I understand they have licensing agreement with their affiliates. But none of that matters to me. It's really their problem.

So if they don't want me as a customer I'm not going to put up a fight to be one. 90% of my TV watching is from the internet. I know not everyone has their TV hooked up to the internet nor does everyone watch their TV on tablets and other devices but things are moving that direction. The writing is on the wall. If I were a shareholder I would want the company to focus more on adapting their business model to these realities rather than wasting resources on litigation that does nothing to stop the inevitable.

Wait - isn't this time/place shifting? (5, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 2 years ago | (#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:Wait - isn't this time/place shifting? (3, Funny)

Myopic (18616) | about 2 years ago | (#39675217)

I can just hear the bobblyhead executives screaming "HOW DARE they help people watch our TV shows and COMMERCIALS? WE DON'T WANT more people to watch what we BROADCAST! If we wanted people to watch, WE WOULD MAKE IT EASY AND CONVENIENT! WE MAKE IT ANNOYING AND DIFFICULT FOR A REASON!"

#headasplode

Re:Wait - isn't this time/place shifting? (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39675257)

I thought this battle had been fought and won in the VCR times.

Since they are rebroadcasting from a central location, this isn't quite the same as the VCR case (as much as Aereo tries to make it so). This would be more like if a company was recording shows off the air onto VCR tapes and mailing them to subscribers. Which is quite a bit different than a user recording shows at home for later viewing.

Derp, Meet Herp (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39675137)

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.'

That's the exact same argument they used against VCRs. "They'll be able to bypass the advertisement! Share with their friends! Our business model will be in jeopardy." The only thing that's changed between then and now is that back then, the justices didn't support state-sponsored capitalism; That is, the privatization of profits and the socialization of costs.

Which, actually, probably means even more citizens now will be taking the approach of "If a law is stupid, ignore it." -- Which is not healthy for a society, but unavoidable when the justice system has departed so far from the actual values and morals of the general population so as to have lost relevance.

Re:Derp, Meet Herp (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification [wikipedia.org]

Re:Derp, Meet Herp (3, Insightful)

CroDragn (866826) | about 2 years ago | (#39676133)

Anytime the laws are not reflecting the moral values of the society they're serving, it isn't healthy; it breeds a contempt for the law, the courts, and the government as a whole. Stupid laws need to be ignored, protested, and fought until they are brought back in line with social values as a whole, since after all it's society as a whole that laws are supposed to serve. The cases you pointed out serve to point this out actually; blacks were not being treated fairly with by the laws, and as a result still to this day don't particularly trust the legal system. The point is that when ever laws and society clash, the laws are usually the ones that need changing, the quicker the better.

Re:Derp, Meet Herp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39676101)

Funny that I'd pay more for TV and certain channels, if they DIDN'T have advertising on it. You know, like premium online streaming services do.

The minute a streaming service I pay for throws ads into their content, I'm dropping them. I pay for content, NOT ads. If I wanted ads, I'd watch regular TV.

And queue the DVR/MythTV argument. Still requires $15 to schedules direct for accurate data. This should be free dammit. I shouldn't have to pay for scheduling data twice, or three times!

Let's not jump the gun. (5, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 2 years ago | (#39675157)

To understand the latest legal jockeying, substitute the term VCR with Aereo. The upstart, Aereo, opened for business last month and supplies internet streams and a DVR service for over-the-air broadcasts to its New York customers. In other words, 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. For the moment, the service is free, but will soon charge $12 monthly.

This suggests to me the following:

  1. Aereo receives television signals over the public airwaves.
  2. Aereo rebroadcasts the signals through their internet distribution network.
  3. Aereo soon plans to charge for this service.

If I was a TV station, I would have serious problems with steps 2 and 3, and I believe copyright law would agree (with the usual disclaimer that I am not a lawyer and you should not take legal advice from me).

Just because it's broadcast over the public airwaves does not make the broadcast public domain. It's still copyrighted, and by redistributing the signal, it seems to be clear copyright infringement to me. If they want this to be legal, they appear to need new laws.

This is not like a VCR because with a VCR, the distribution of video still happens directly from the copyright owner or their agent. This would be like a company renting a single movie, making copies, then charging for access to the copies, without compensating the original distributor.

By the way, if this practice were legal, what's to prevent Aereo from charging even more to remove the commercials from their rebroadcasts entirely?

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | about 2 years ago | (#39675225)

Finally, someone who understands what this is actually about. As you say, "free" broadcast signals aren't really free, they're encumbered by all sorts of restrictions such as private viewing only.

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (3, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#39675695)

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.

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (1)

fishicist (777318) | about 2 years ago | (#39675269)

I can currently do everything you describe using MythTV, including stripping the commercials (albeit not in realtime).

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (2)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 2 years ago | (#39675343)

You're not redistributing the video. You're essentially timeshifting, which is legal. Redistribution is not.

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675631)

With MythTV are you rebroadcasting to multiple users? If not, then it's not the same. If you're just watching a stream on your own personal device, that's not the same. If you can rebroadcast, then I'd think they'd have a case against that, too, if the description above is correct.

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675305)

can't I legally do this myself? what difference does it make if I pay someone else to be my RF and TV tech and maintain my equipment?

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#39675331)

but why wouldn't it be legal for me to rent a flat in nyc and place a dvr in there and stream the end results for my viewing whereever? that's what they do essentially.

the legal points why they think this should be illegal don't seem to exist - the point is just that it fucks up their public broadcasting price discrimination based on locale policy.

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#39675573)

but why wouldn't it be legal for me to rent a flat in nyc and place a dvr in there and stream the end results for my viewing whereever? that's what they do essentially.

If you record an OTA broadcast to a DVD-R and they record an OTA broadcast to a DVD-R it's essentially the same thing, but the broadcaster will have a problem with a company doing that for profit and selling the DVD. It's not the only factors but what you do for private non-commercial use is treated quite different than a public commercial service. Honestly I find it more likely that your private right to fair use would be taken away than their commercial control would be, so I wouldn't be so quick to tie this to the mast of fair use. The whole ship might go down (though of course there's always pirate ships...)

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39675381)

If your read the end of the article, what Aereo is doing may be legal.

QUOTE: "The idea is to rely, in part, on a 2008 federal appeals court ruling known as Cablevision. That ruling, which the Supreme Court declined to review, said Cablevision Systemsâ(TM) cloud-based DVR service was legal only because each user who ordered Cablevision to make a copy of last Thursdayâ(TM)s Seinfeld got their own individual copy in their own folder in the companyâ(TM)s data center.

"Hollywood claimed Cablevisionâ(TM)s service directly infringed its exclusive rights to both reproduce and to publicly perform their copyrighted works. In a highly complex and nuanced ruling, the court said individual consumers, not Cablevision, were copying and acquiring the material at their own discretion, which amounted to fair use.

"That leaves some hope for Aereo. And the companyâ(TM)s got another thing going for it â" a deep-pocketed investor who appears willing to fund an expensive and lengthy court fight. Barry Diller, the chairman of internet company IAC/InterActiveCorp, has invested $20.5 million of the companyâ(TM)s money in Aereo. Ironically, Diller founded Fox Broadcasting in 1986, which is one of the plaintiffâ(TM)s suing Aereo."

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#39675415)

Cable companies already do this. And they have been doing this since at least 1953. My grandfather built a cable TV system (with 2 channels) back then and charged $100/month (yes, in 1953) until he realized he was not going to have more than 6 customers at that rate.

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#39675427)

From TFA:

Aereo has deployed a small forest of baby antennas, which users rent from Aereo. Chet Kanojia, the company’s chief executive, said the business model of providing a remote antenna for a user is “consistent with over-the-air broadcasting.” He said “it doesn’t require licensing.”

I think Aereo's defense is that they're only providing the antenna, one-per-user, and therefore are not technically streaming anything. Technically, the signal is still originating from the station's transmitter, Aereo is just providing receivers to people who may not necessarily reside in the transmitter's broadcast range.

In layman's terms, it's akin to having a mast antenna on your house, except the antenna is on your neighbor's house 2000 miles away, and you have a really, really long cable.

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675555)

That analogy would only hold up if there was a place to pick up the movies for free. One doesn't have to pay to way over-the-air broadcasting. So if there was a place where I could just swing by and pick up movies for free, would it be so bad if there was a service that picked up a movie for me and streamed it to my house (analogous to them having an antenna per customer)?

"Rebroadcasts" (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39675741)

It is not really a "broadcast" if only one person is receiving it. What Aereo is doing is assigning each customer their own antenna, and sending them the received signal over the Internet. That is not "rebroadcasting."

What the plaintiffs are getting their panties in a twist over is the fact that they did not realize that they could have done this sort of thing, and now someone else might be able to monetize it. I have no sympathy for them, they should lose and be forced to pay Aereo's legal fees plus punitive damages.

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 2 years ago | (#39675771)

Just because it's broadcast over the public airwaves does not make the broadcast public domain.

It doesn't make the contents public domain, but why isn't the broadcasted signal itself? For a thought experiment, suppose Aereo was able to limit its transmissions to customers who would be able to receive the broadcast OTA for free. Further suppose that Internet access was perfectly ubiquitous among those viewers, and Aereo provided such incredible service that they achieved 100% market share such that not a single viewer consumed the OTA signal anymore. The broadcasters realize that maintaining an antenna is incredibly expensive and utterly redundant, so they shut down their transmitters.

In this scenario, the content generators have exactly the same viewership as before, but minus the costs of maintaining expensive broadcast equipment. Aereo is making lots of money from subscriptions. Viewers have the benefit of receiving the content in a form most convenient to them. Who loses here? What harm has Aereo done to the content producers? If we can mostly agree on "none", then where is the line between that hypothetical scenario and what Aereo's doing now where harm starts to be done?

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (1)

jakegmerek (2579439) | about 2 years ago | (#39675865)

This suggests to me the following:

  1. Aereo receives television signals over the public airwaves.
  2. Aereo rebroadcasts the signals through their internet distribution network.
  3. Aereo soon plans to charge for this service.

That is not quite right though, they are just renting the antennas that receive the signal to the consumer. The Networks effectively want to limit the length of the cord that the consumer uses to connect to the antenna. It is just semantics, if I ran a cable from my house to Aereo's offices and hooked up the antenna that way they could not say much, but since I want to use the internet as an extension cord, the want to call it rebroadcasting.

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 2 years ago | (#39676009)

This would be like a company renting a single movie, making copies, then charging for access to the copies, without compensating the original distributor.

Or perhaps a better comparison would be cable networks carrying broadcast network channels without permission from the broadcast networks.

Re:Let's not jump the gun. (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#39676015)

It is interesting to note that cable companies pay to rebroadcast the broadcast TV signals. If it is legal to broadcast the signal without license over the internet for compensation, then it will theoretical be legal to rebroadcast those signals over cable as well. Which would irreparable the TV networks.

This technology is not the VCR. This is more like someone setting up a business which will record desired show on tape, and the sell you the tape. That would not be a bad model. Set up hundreds of machines, record a customized set of show for a given night for a given customer, sell the tape for $10. I don't think this, however, would be legal.

OTOH, the problem is caused by random network licensing issues. How much sense does it make to be able to watch Hulu on a laptop, but not a tablet or phone. Most people don't have the data plans to stream Hulu over the cell network, so they are likely going to watch as on a laptop. That someone takes advantage of this arbitrage and tries to monazite it is no surprise.

Aereo should sue the broadcaster (2)

cbass377 (198431) | about 2 years ago | (#39675169)

Aereo should sue the broadcaster for spraying their antenna with copyrighted media.

Not a personal service (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39675189)

When I read the summary, I assumed that the customer installed an Aereo box at home and used their own internet connection to stream the content to their iPad. This seems like a clear case of fair use - I should be able to watch my home TV service (even over the air TV) on any device I want. However, what the Aereo service does is host thousands of tiny antennas in a datacenter, and rents an individual antenna to each user, no box at home needed.

Sounds like an interesting attempt to allow rebroadcasting, but I can see why the networks have a problem with it. They don't want someone in San Francisco watching TV (and ads) from New York - it dilutes their ability to sell targeted ads and reduces the value of network affiliates. Ever if Aereo claims to do address verification, there are many ways to get a mailing address in New York, but it would be harder to do that if they required a physical box to be the receiver.

Re:Not a personal service (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#39675417)

Yeah, this seems much closer to rebroadcasting, which you can't do unless the original broadcaster allows you to. Consider even the case where you're not changing mediums. I set up a free streaming radio station at mysite.com. You can receive this, and route it within your house or devices however you want. But what you can't do is rebroadcast my radio stream from yoursite.com, and certainly not rebroadcast it and then sell subscriptions to yoursite.com's rebroadcast of my radio station!

Re:Not a personal service (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | about 2 years ago | (#39675785)

Consider even the case where you're not changing mediums. I set up a free streaming radio station at mysite.com. You can receive this, and route it within your house or devices however you want. But what you can't do is rebroadcast my radio stream from yoursite.com, and certainly not rebroadcast it and then sell subscriptions to yoursite.com's rebroadcast of my radio station!

But I probably can set up a proxy server so that my friend can get to your content through my connection. This is no different from me running a coax wire from my antenna to my neighbor so that only one of us has to have a butt-ugly mast antenna outside to get the signal. I can probably charge them for the connection as well, since it's charging for a wire, not the data on the wire.

Re:Not a personal service (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39676131)

But I probably can set up a proxy server so that my friend can get to your content through my connection. This is no different from me running a coax wire from my antenna to my neighbor so that only one of us has to have a butt-ugly mast antenna outside to get the signal. I can probably charge them for the connection as well, since it's charging for a wire, not the data on the wire.

Perhaps in theory it's no different than sharing a physical cable, but in practice it is much different -- unless your neighbor literally lives next door, you can't run a cable to him without negotiating a right-of-way through other neighbor's yards or public easements. So anything requiring physical wiring is self-limiting, it won't be done on a large scale. Which is not the case when you're dealing with a virtual service.

Re:Not a personal service (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39675863)

So if I have an antenna at my house, that's fine, but if it is at your house then there is a problem? What?

This is a clear-cut case of one business trying to destroy the competition through frivolous lawsuits and abuses of the court system. The broadcasters are just angry that they were not innovative enough to develop such a system on their own. When Aereo is sued into bankruptcy, the broadcasters will buy up all the patents and trade secrets and try to deploy their own version of this system.

You can't rebroadcast Public airwaves (4, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39675191)

Over the years the FCC has granted to local stations the right to charge for their product. Cable companies pay about 1 cent per station (per household)* for the rights to rebroadcast local stations over their wires. This "Aereo" service may have to abide by the same rules.

*
*Yet another reason I use a CM4228 antenna; I get the locals free without charge.

Re:You can't rebroadcast Public airwaves (1)

mprindle (198799) | about 2 years ago | (#39675507)

Over the years the FCC has granted to local stations the right to charge for their product. Cable companies pay about 1 cent per station (per household)* for the rights to rebroadcast local stations over their wires. This "Aereo" service may have to abide by the same rules.

*

Sounds fair to me, if they are sending 10 stations then they pay .10 cents per user to the content provider.

Re:You can't rebroadcast Public airwaves (1)

sdnoob (917382) | about 2 years ago | (#39675867)

maybe in some markets its only a penny per subscriber to each station, but around here it's a lot higher than that (and this is not a top 10 market.. not even top 100 or 200)... and getting worse as each station holds their programming hostage to extort more money out of the cable and satellite companies.

Dear Government, competition and new services..... (2)

Tyr07 (2300912) | about 2 years ago | (#39675209)

Please make them all illegal. New competition is causing harm to our business. Customers have other choices are harming our business.
New technology is harming our buisness. Our business model that's outdated is no longer valid, please make everything that prevents it from still working illegal.

----
Dear Companies,

Some companies close down, it happens, it's called failing to keep up with the time, failing to adjust your business model to adapt to todays market, a company who may no longer be needed.

We don't hear about blacksmiths filing suits against all forms of machinery which takes work away from them and hurts their business.
Fletchers aren't complaining.
The list goes on.

Its time for you to move on.

Wait.. WHAT?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675237)

The networks, however, say Aereo will cause irreparable harm to their business.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

Don't they, technically-speaking, give up the right to decide the terms of the distribution of their content when they broadcast it over public airwave? I mean, sure, legally-speaking, it's their content, but society is really getting stuffed with all these double standards - "Do what you want as long as it falls in the realm of what we want."

Change is not required of the entertainment biz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675253)

And neither is survival. Good luck with the courts and all but the long term solution is to adapt. If you don't, I'm sure plenty of consulting lawyers will be very happy to invoice you until you are broke as you attempt to hold back time and tides.

what they're really saying (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#39675279)

What they're really saying is if you want to broadcast Fox in your town form your tower, you pay them a whole bunch of money to license the content. So yeah, it pretty much is illegal what they're doing. But, if they were smart, they'd invent a compact digital TV antenna and attach it to a digitizer like those cheap composite to USB converters from Kworld and Hauppauge and as long as you're in range of a broadcast, you can get it on your tablet, netbook, or laptop. Then you don't kill your data plan limit either.

Re:what they're really saying (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39675999)

No, what they are saying is that if I have a good location for receiving a Fox broadcast, and I allow you to place an antenna on my property and run a cable to your house, I have to pay a licensing fee. Since you got to watch something that you would have had to go through more trouble to watch otherwise.

The broadcasters have no case here, they are wasting court time and trying to destroy innovation through frivolous lawsuits.

Inane psychosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675291)

So... a (logically equivalent) signal booster is also illegal because it prevents their control of their copyrighted media?
Seriously, if you want "control" over your copyrighted material, DON'T DISTRIBUTE IT IN FREELY AVAILABLE PUBLIC BROADCASTING.

One day, reality is gonna hit these media companies with the harsh-reality-hammer, and one of two things is gonna happen:
1) The companies will go squish
2) They will reconnect with reality

For the sake of our entertainment economy, broken as it is, I'm hoping for #2, but I highly doubt that will be the outcome.

what did I just hear? (1)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#39675313)

"Waaaaaah!"

oh, that. yes, that was it. I'm so tired of people trying to sell me products or services, and then claim a right to tell me how I will be using said products or services.

What this almost always boils down to is that the consumer has found a way to get better value out of the service/product than either party originally expected, and the provider/seller feels that this magically entitles them to an additional cut now that the product/service has become more valuable to the consumer. And unlike say, tethering, in this case the consumer's new use doesn't even create any additional expenses for the provider. They have no ground to stand on here besides perhaps a stray outdated law or two that weren't intended to be applied to this sort of situation.

Why not just stream right from the network's site? (2)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#39675319)

All of the TV shows that I or my family regularly watch are readily available online at the network's website within about 24 hours of airing.

Re:Why not just stream right from the network's si (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39675529)

Not always. Some networks hold their shows for 8 days (FOX) or even as long as a month (NBC's Syfy). It's pretty annoying for those of us who use Hulu like a VCR to see shows we missed.

Re:Why not just stream right from the network's si (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#39675661)

Well yes... YMMV, of course. I can only speak from personal experience.

I don't watch anything on FOX.... and as for the stuff on Syfy that I might want to watch, I'd rather wait until the entire current season comes out on DVD, and I can watch it all at my own pace anyways.

Re:Why not just stream right from the network's si (2)

hendridm (302246) | about 2 years ago | (#39675831)

I don't understand why they have the delay in releasing them to Hulu. If they were on Hulu right away, I would watch with commercials. Since they like to be dicks about it, I just download from TPB and watch without commercials. Who is winning there?

Re:Why not just stream right from the network's si (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675589)

They are also available online without the adds in formats that are more or less platform agnostic and sans commercials within 1-4 hours of airing.

Re:Why not just stream right from the network's si (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#39675697)

Of course.... but I was talking about a solution that the networks would approve of.

Re:Why not just stream right from the network's si (1)

antdude (79039) | about 2 years ago | (#39676023)

Two from my head:
1) Region blocking to outside of countries.
2) Some have to wait eight days later unless you are a subscriber like on Hulu+

I am sure there are more. ;)

keep it local (1)

sdnoob (917382) | about 2 years ago | (#39675363)

as long as the "rented" antenna is in the same local tv market as the aereo subscriber's address, i don't see the problem... not any different than slingbox place-shifting (also orb, vlc, etc) then...

but if they start (presently they do not allow this) letting people "rent" out-of-market antennas (e.g. someone in florida "renting" a new york-based antenna.. then i can see where the networks would have a problem with the service (should have to follow similar rules as satellite companies offering local channels)

__

as far as the dvr functionality.. customer subscribes (leases) dvr functionality from them. who gives a shit where their dvr is (home vs data center).. as long as only programs requested to be recorded by the user are available to that user, shouldn't be a problem there either.

Money (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 2 years ago | (#39675373)

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Hollywood end up making quite a bit of money as a result of home theatre systems? You'd think they would've learned by now that technology can generate profits. Aereo is actually assisting in broadcasting the major networks content to a larger audience. In theory, this could be good for advertising revenue.

Abolish govt established broadcasting monopolies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675439)

Unidirectional government established broadcasting monopolies should never be permitted to be used for commercial purposes.

Preserving some signals for things like GPS and emergency broadcasting are OK, things like cell phone use (some of which is unlicensed) and emergency calling is OK, but any commercial communication should be done over spectra that everyone has an equal opportunity to transmit information over following equal rules.

Live stream = More Customers = More Ad views (1)

mprindle (198799) | about 2 years ago | (#39675445)

So what's the issue here? It's not like they are removing/skipping the TV ads, they are just converting the broadcast to play on a persons digital device. They even have a dedicated antenna for each user. So, that means more people are now seeing the same commercials equaling more ad impressions which means the TV execs can charge more for the ads.

As others have said why not working the company to work out a fee instead of trying to sue them into the ground.

Re:Live stream = More Customers = More Ad views (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39676095)

So what's the issue here?

The fact that the broadcasters did not come up with this system on their own, and therefore cannot make money from it. This is also known as "a greedy abuse of the court system, for which the plaintiffs should be penalized."

Why give every customer its own antenna? (1)

billcarson (2438218) | about 2 years ago | (#39675459)

Why not use one antenna per channel, and stream it to multiple customers?

Re:Why give every customer its own antenna? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#39675547)

Why not use one antenna per channel, and stream it to multiple customers?

Legal wrangling, I assume - if you're pickup up broadcasts with one antenna, then sending it to multiple users, you are redistribution content, and thus subject to applicable laws.

Aereo is claiming that they're merely "renting" users the hardware to receive the signals, probably to skirt copyright law.

Re:Why give every customer its own antenna? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39676065)

Why not use one antenna per channel, and stream it to multiple customers?

That would be rebroadcasting, effectively making them a cable TV service that has to pay licensing fees. Since only one person has access to a given antenna at any given time, the service is not rebroadcasting, it is location shifting.

Which is doublespeak for.... (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 years ago | (#39675553)

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.'"
I think they could have just been more concise and said that it negatively affects their advertising pricing model.
Remember folks, no matter what they're talking about, they're talking about money.

Dinosaurs (1)

owlnation (858981) | about 2 years ago | (#39675591)

Another, predictable, imbecilic move from the Nets. Especially since all of them have seen ratings drop across the board -- NBC dramatically so.

The only sensible future of TV is using an MLB.TV model. For those of you not baseball fans, MLB broadcasts all games live, all season in HD -- for a set fee. They do this for subscribers all over the world. Sometimes there's ads too -- but they are really not yet utilizing the ad model much. It's available for iPad and phones too.

With more advertising, the stream could be free, or at least cheaper. This way, instead of getting a 1.0A18-49 rating for a show like "Fringe", they could broadcast it to every English-speaking fan in the World who wants to subscribe. Plus you have live monitoring of ratings, without having to pay Neilsen.

In that case WB still gets licenses for foreign domestic sales, and iTunes sales, DVDs, whatever too.

There's no technical reason this cannot happen. The only barriers are Ludditism, stupidity, and, of course, fucking lawyers.

Big media's war on viewers (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 2 years ago | (#39675627)

It's just amazing for me to watch this battle. What other industry goes to this length to keep people from consuming their product? They are truly clueless.
Here you have people going to great lengths and expense to watch a TV show (with original commercials) and we have the creators and distributors of the show actively trying to prevent them. These people are dinosaurs and deserve to die out.

Re:Big media's war on viewers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675789)

1. The gaming industry
2. music was taken off the radio
3. anything by Sony?

Ether Bunny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39675881)

I control the ether! You all must grovel with your puny license agreements before my supreme radio waves!

iCraveTV - 1999 All Over Again (1)

Vic Metcalfe (355) | about 2 years ago | (#39675903)

Sounds a lot like iCraveTV: http://slashdot.org/index2.pl?fhfilter=icravetv [slashdot.org]

This captured signals in Canada and provided them for live streaming. It was eventually shut down by the broadcasters because it was illegal in the US, even though it was legal in Canada. The owners of the business wanted to be able to travel to the US without being arrested if I recall it correctly. I worked on the project at the time. It was loads of fun! I'd like to see this kind of thing thrive one day.

There's an Opportunity Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39676073)

Wouldn't it be cool if these same studios came to the realization that there was an opportunity here? People would like a service like this and are willing to pay for it. What if ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and Univision got together and said "We're going to offer the same service...?" Not only could they ensure that the ads remained a part of the programming, but they would also have a new revenue stream from the subscriptions. PLUS they would have some very valuable data on exactly who was watching exactly what shows so they could better market to advertisers.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...