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Broadcasters Petition US Supreme Court In Fight Against Aereo

timothy posted about a year ago | from the first-boston-strangler-reference-wins dept.

The Courts 229

First time accepted submitter wasteoid writes "Aereo provides live-streaming and cloud-based DVR capability for Over-The-Air (OTA) broadcasts to their paying customers. Broadcasters object to this functionality, with Fox claiming about Aereo, 'Make no mistake, Aereo is stealing our broadcast signal.' The focus appears to be the ability of Aereo to provide streaming and DVR capabilities that traditional broadcasters have not delivered. The litigious broadcasters are fighting against "Aereo's illegal disruption of their business model.""

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NTT in Japan (5, Funny)

musikit (716987) | about a year ago | (#45107633)

Living in Japan once in a while someone from NTT knocks on my door asking that i give them money for receiving the signal they broadcast.
my teachers told me about this scam however i tell them two true things

1. i dont have a TV. so im not paying for something i'm not receiving
2. if you don't want me to get the signal then don't broadcast it to me.

same should apply here. the TV stations broadcasted their signal in "cleartext"

Re:NTT in Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107759)

Living in Japan once in a while someone from NTT knocks on my door asking that i give them money for receiving the signal they broadcast.
my teachers told me about this scam however i tell them two true things

1. i dont have a TV. so im not paying for something i'm not receiving
2. if you don't want me to get the signal then don't broadcast it to me.

same should apply here. the TV stations broadcasted their signal in "cleartext"

America is an exception when it comes to public broadcast fees. You don't pay for public broadcasting, yet you pay and a lot for cable. Most civilised countries (almost all or all countries in Europe) have a tv license fee, that's used to finance the public broadcasting system. And I think the same applies in Japan.

Re:NTT in Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107819)

More to the point, this argument was already tried and lost on the C-band and Ku-band BUD (Big Ugly Dish) receivers. Anyone with a receiver can watch whatever the hell they want. Since these broadcasts were intended to be relays (eg live feeds from the whitehouse, sports, and such) for affiliate stations, until they encrypted the signals, most people weren't paying anything to receive it.

Now, cracking the crypto or making pirate cards, that's illegal. There's nothing illegal about actually receiving a signal.

Re:NTT in Japan (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45108039)

If that were all Aereo was doing, there would be no issue. The legal issue is whether Aereo has a right to retransmit copyrighted information without consent of the broadcasters and other copyright holders.

Re:NTT in Japan (2)

aurizon (122550) | about a year ago | (#45108125)

As I understand it, Aereo erects grids of small antennas in a strong signal area, each antenna belongs to one subscriber who is the onkly one who watches that feed. Americans have, for well over 100 years erected antennas on high points so people in the radi0/TV shadow, or out of range by distance can hear/see the radio and TV transmissions. Many of these were group efforts for towns to get reception over mountains etc.
The courts have seen this and ruled on it, so now they are asked to make illegal a practice with well over 100 years of legal use?
I think not

Re:NTT in Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108139)

Technically this is like renting a VCR to someone and then the user making illegal copies. The difference is mainly in that the company renting the VCR is also renting electricity, space, and a physical Internet connection, as well as additional equipment which is connected to the VCR that enables them to stream content. The thing is there is nothing that says all content broadcast has copyright or is not permitted to be copied. The masses shouldn't be prevent from doing stuff that has conceivable legal uses simply because of majority or minority abuse.

Re:NTT in Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108405)

While I agree with you, in the US I don't think you actually have to indicate that (IANAL), as copyright is automatic, and you need a license to copy (the default is that it is illegal outside Fair Use exemptions). However, I think Fair Use might apply here, and can't be removed with such a notice in the US.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use#Amount_and_substantiality [wikipedia.org]

Timeshifting allows entire programs to be copied legally, but what about Geo-shifting?

Re:NTT in Japan (2)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#45108403)

They are leasing you an antenna. They are connecting YOU to YOUR antenna, and doing so in a way that prevents thieves on the internet from stealing the contents so that you and only you get that signal.

Re:NTT in Japan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107823)

I think the American system works better. At least they allow you to opt out (TV isn't the primary medium these days).

Re:NTT in Japan (1)

Megane (129182) | about a year ago | (#45107917)

Broadcast TV in the US has always been funded by advertising (except for PBS [wikipedia.org] , which has regular pledge drives for donations), probably as an extension of radio already having been funded by advertising. The other countries that have licence fees do so because they're smaller countries and decided they needed it to get television started there.

Cable became dominant in the US after people got tired of trying to get a good signal, either in rural areas where the transmitters were distant, or in cities, where buildings caused multipath ghosting and other bad reception. Then people just got too damn lazy (or lived in areas with HOAs that forbade them) to put up antennas.

During the '90s and '00s, live sports moved off of broadcast TV and onto cable. First it was just the "trash sports" and obscure games with teams nobody cared about, then finally Monday Night Football [wikipedia.org] moved to cable. (But there's still enough sports on broadcast TV to fuck up Saturday and Sunday night television schedules when games run long, which is really annoying when Fox's Sunday night animation block is showing new episodes.)

Now live sports is really the only real reason to get cable, and there are a lot of sports fans in the US. But some people pay lots of money to get the glass teat anyhow even when they don't care about sports.

Re:NTT in Japan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108071)

Then people just got too damn lazy (or lived in areas with HOAs that forbade them) to put up antennas.

The HOA might have such a rule, but these rules are illegal.

Federal law preempts such rules, and you are allowed to put up a TV antenna or satellite dish. Unfortunately the link on the FCC's webpage is down due to the US govt "shutdown".

It's fun to sue your HOA and win damages!

Re:NTT in Japan (1, Informative)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | about a year ago | (#45108473)

America is an exception when it comes to public broadcast fees. You don't pay for public broadcasting

That's actually false. PBS (the main public TV broadcaster) and NPR (the main public radio broadcaster) each get about 20% of their budget in tax money, which comes from the Federal treasury. (They, in turn, get it from the Federal income tax, Federal borrowing, and generic fees paid to the Federal government.) PBS and NPR get the balance of their funding from donations.

It's my understanding that the British government charges a specific tax to cover the operations of the BBC. In the US, the "public" funding of public broadcasting comes primarily from the same taxes that pay for the military, salaries of government, and pretty much everything else.

In any case, Fox is a private broadcaster who makes their money off advertising sales. They're not a public broadcaster.

Re:NTT in Japan (1)

countach (534280) | about a year ago | (#45107879)

Telling them not to broadcast it to you if they don't want you to have it free might sound eminently reasonable, but I suspect there is some law against you. The law isn't always reasonable.

Re:NTT in Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108013)

Living in Japan once in a while someone from NTT knocks on my door asking that i give them money for receiving the signal they broadcast.
my teachers told me about this scam however

They have that scam in the UK too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_licensing_in_the_United_Kingdom [wikipedia.org]

Solution to the Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108271)

If the broadcast networks simply stopped using publicly leased airwaves, then Aereo would have nothing to supposedly re-broadcast. All they have to do is become cable only channels like Comedy Central and TBS, and give their licenses back to the FCC.

The fact that they haven't done so, speaks volumes about their intent.

Rights? (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45107637)

So we have no rights to the content beamed into our homes, but they have the Right to Profit, even with a bad business model.

Re:Rights? (2, Interesting)

Milosch1 (969372) | about a year ago | (#45107775)

Aereo has no right to profit from the significant money spent and effort made to deliver the broadcast signals in the first place. Not without compensation.

Re:Rights? (4, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#45107803)

That argument would apply to television sets themselves. Doesn't hold water.

Re:Rights? (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45108047)

Are there free television sets broadcast to peoples' homes that I'm missing out on?

Re:Rights? (4, Informative)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#45108349)

No, but there are TV repeaters like the VCR Rabbit from the 1980s that are entirely legal, and do exactly what Areo do - rebroadcast taped or OTA (via the VCR's tuner) to another device.

Why was it called the Rabbit? Because it multiplies the video signal.

http://articles.latimes.com/1986-06-22/business/fi-20799_1_rabbit-system [latimes.com]

This is merely a VCR plus VCR Rabbit in a cabinet in a data-center paid for via subscription for the service. You could roll out your own rebroadcasting DVR and stick it in a closet or under your TV as part of your media system and pipe the signal back out to the Internet available to only your devices like this does.

--
BMO

Re:Rights? (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45107837)

Aereo has no right to profit from the significant money spent and effort made to deliver the broadcast signals in the first place. Not without compensation.

The courts have so far, begged to differ. In the now-famous CableVision case [google.com] , the court concluded that Cablevision's offer of a 'cloud DVR' product was legitimate: although Cablevision's hardware was making what would (otherwise) be illicit copies, it was operating as a direct extension of the customer's record and playback requests. Just a DVR; but with the hardware offsite rather than in a set top box.

Aereo specifically designed their service to follow the same model: Aereo operates banks of antennas at their facilities, each customers is allocated(possibly dynamically; but always 1-to-1 at any given time) their own antenna and their own DVR/buffer storage, effectively creating an OTA set top box, just with the video being transported over an IP link, rather than a meter of HDMI cable, and user inputs also going over the internet rather than over IR.

So far, the courts' response has been favorable (if sometimes bemused), in the various markets that Aereo has expanded into. They've been sued in every venue, and prevailed.

Re:Rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108133)

The statement "Aereo has no right to profit from the significant money spent and effort made to deliver the broadcast signals in the first place. Not without compensation." has issues.
1st: If we follow the same logic then the guy who climbs up on the roof to install your TV antenna should pay the broadcasters for the privilege..
2nd: The broadcasters make their money by selling advertising. The more people that watch a show the more $$$ the commercial time goes for. Aereo is actually helping the broadcasters to gain a bigger audience for their programming..

Re:Rights? (1)

Daemonik (171801) | about a year ago | (#45108425)

The idea that broadcasters make their money off advertising is a bit simplistic. Advertising is just one aspect of their business. You have to include DVD sales, fees from streaming services, online sales of content, retransmission fees from cable operators, syndication fees, etc.

The industry pitches a fit every single time some new technological innovation comes around about how it will destroy them until they figure out how to monetize it. This is nothing new and I'm frankly tired of hearing these mewling quims beg for the government to guarantee their profits. The very industries where they make significant amounts of money are the same industries they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to. If it were up to the broadcasters we'd all still have B&W TV sets with rabbit ear antennas.

Re:Rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108155)

Aereo has no right to profit from the significant money spent and effort made to deliver the broadcast signals in the first place. Not without compensation.

The broadcasters are already being compensated by advertisers in the case of signals transmitted, in the clear, over public airwaves. If you don't want people to receive the signal, either don't send it out or encrypt it.

The broadcasters should really thank Aereo for what it does: increase the audience size, and thus make it possible to ask advertisers for more money.

Re:Rights? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about a year ago | (#45108411)

Aereo has no right to profit from the significant money spent and effort made to deliver the broadcast signals in the first place. Not without compensation.

Why not? Merely because someone spends money and effort to do something doesn't mean that they're entitled to absolute control over it.

If I put a lot of money and effort into improving my house and the lot it sits on, that increases the value of neighboring properties to some extent. But I'm not entitled to a cut, when my neighbor sells his house for more than he would've gotten, had I not done anything.

Hell, you might as well say that the school in the state I grew up ought to get a share of the money I make now, far away in a different state, because I wouldn't have my current job had I never learned to read and write.

Things just don't work this way.

Re:Rights? (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about a year ago | (#45108503)

Yeah, and it's very much prone to a slippery slope. Why should VCR manufacturers have the right to profit from providing systems that record TV shows for personal use? Why should newspapers be allowed to be profit from encouraging sales by providing TV listings? Why should websites be allowed to profit by posting reviews of TV shows.

My understanding of the service is that one could not, as a New York resident, be watching Boston local TV without having a residential address there. Conceptually it's not that different from having a Slingbox. It'd be a different matter if I could, as a Finnish resident with no residential address in the U.S. sign up to view U.S. terrestrial broadcasts - then I could see some licencing issues. The broadcasters still get their adverts played to intended locality, so that argument goes down the shitter. The only remaining argument I see is that it prevents the broadcasters from making money from cable subs, which is an asinine replaying of Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc.

I see no good moral objection to this service, unless we'd decide that extension cables should also be unfair profiteering. Whether it's legal is an entirely different matter, and I can see no good reason why it should be illegal.

Re:Rights? (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#45108433)

Aereo leases you an antenna. They also provide you with an encrypted data feed to your antenna. As long as it is your free right to receive signals from an antenna, this is legal. And they encrypt the signal to be sure no one has tapped onto your antenna to copy the content you are receiving legally.

Re:Rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107811)

24/7 we are subject to having hundred or thousands of brodcast signals entering our spaces, homes and body. Even if we object there is no choice because we are supposed to accept this shit but then, if we capture some slice of the signal, we are suppose to play by big corporate rules and they get backed-up by shit law rules. Why? because thats their golden goose money machine. I believe if signals of any type are passing through my space without my consent I should have the right to do whatever the fuck I want with it because broadcasters they didn't get permission to radiate me and I don't get payment from them. There business model isn't much different than if someone took a truck-load of coins and spread them along roads, much like a road salt truck does. But then if anyone picked-up some coin it would be stealing. Screw fuckn broadcasters, if a signal passes into our space we should do whatever weI want with it.

Re:Rights? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107877)

That's not at all the point. This company has obviously been set up to exploit a supposed "loophole" in copyright law, without really understanding that copyright doesn't have "loopholes" since loopholes are designed to be self-defeating as copyright law is flexible based on the LEMON TEST (look it up) not some "fixed rules."

Since Aereos' business model clearly fails the lemon test (just like napster did), I have no problem with courts wiping them off the face of the earth.

of course, this being a slashdot comment thread, as usual there will be a litany of people who misunderstand how copyright law is actually supposed to work.

Re: Rights? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108031)

You're one of those people who seems to be unable to discuss hypothetical reasoning without laws as a concrete truth. Its our job to question the laws that govern us, otherwise we are a bunch of lemmings... You might want to look ahead every now and then.

Re:Rights? (2)

aurizon (122550) | about a year ago | (#45108157)

No, it is you that do not get it. This much like the so called 'gray market' laws where companies make stuff in China and sell in the USA for $10 each and in India for $1 each - same stuff. An Indian imports to the USA with his $1 buy and sells below the 'official' product.

They want to say that the product we gave away for free over here can not be seen by someone who comes here - via Aireo antennas - I think not.

BTW, who pays your salary?

Re:Rights? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about a year ago | (#45108457)

This company has obviously been set up to exploit a supposed "loophole" in copyright law, without really understanding that copyright doesn't have "loopholes" since loopholes are designed to be self-defeating as copyright law is flexible based on the LEMON TEST (look it up) not some "fixed rules."

There is no common law federal copyright in the US for published works. This was established long, long ago. Copyright on published works can only arise through federal law, and statutes aren't all that flexible.

I'd agree that there aren't loopholes, but only in the sense that there are almost never loopholes in any law; what people perceive as loopholes are usually disconnects between their mental models of what the law ought to do and how it ought to work, and the reality of what the law actually does and how it really works. The things called loopholes are often deliberately designed features, and not just to help out clever bad actors. (Though there are some of those)

And the only Lemon test I know of is from Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). It's a First Amendment establishment clause case which found that Pennsylvania's subsidies to secular teachers in religious schools violated the First Amendment. The test is basically as follows:

In order to avoid infringing on the First Amendment, the government must act for secular purposes, must not have the primary effect of either helping or harming religion, and must not become entangled in religious matters.

I'll be damned if I see how this is helpful in a copyright case, but maybe you'd like to explain it to us.

of course, this being a slashdot comment thread, as usual there will be a litany of people who misunderstand how copyright law is actually supposed to work.

You've proven this point very well, thanks.

Re:Rights? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45107889)

So we have no rights to the content beamed into our homes, but they have the Right to Profit, even with a bad business model.

It's more vexing because it's a bad business model that also sits smack in the middle of some very nice spectrum. The broadcasters are stomping around like their right to profit was handed down by god, when they should be begging for the right to continue to exist in the context of more interesting uses.

Re:Rights? (1)

oobayly (1056050) | about a year ago | (#45108075)

The broadcasters are stomping around like their right to profit was handed down by god

Well, it is Fox.

'Business Model' is not a protected class (5, Insightful)

RandomFactor (22447) | about a year ago | (#45107651)

What the station owners fear more than Aereo is the possibility that cable and satellite providers, emboldened by Aereo, will set up their own antenna arrays to avoid paying retransmission fees.

This is exactly WHY this should be allowed. If it is cheaper to setup your own antennas than pay someone else to do it then consumers are being overcharged for the service. Competition should be protected, not the opposite of it.

Re:'Business Model' is not a protected class (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107793)

That doesn't mean it shouldn't be.

Re: 'Business Model' is not a protected class (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107961)

It shouldn't be. The model producing the most value for its consumers should thrive. Which model is most productive is not a constant, and not for the courts to decide. Technology and society evolve and business models need to keep up with it. Protecting an outdated model is an economic inefficiency. Granted, for strategic goals a tactical inefficiency is acceptable and usually takes the form of a regulation. Copyright, for example, at one time promoted the development of systems used for copying and distributing information.

Regardless, Aereo should be motivated to keep the broadcasters in business.

Re:'Business Model' is not a protected class (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107893)

What effing nonsense and whoever voted you +5 insightful should be ashaemd.

As in other contexts the slashdot faithful are so keen on bleating, the cost of copying reduces to free as technology advances. it also should have about as much to do with the cost for the intellectual property contained as the cost of paper has to do with the cost of a book.

You are in effect trying to reduce the consumer cost of the content to the marginal cost of copying. This is a deep misreading of economics on many levels. The "price" of the content should be based on the intersection of what consumers are willing to buy it for and what producers are willing to sell it for.

Or, assuming you are a programmer, shall we assume that you will content to receive a salary comensurate only with the 'value' of the elctrons that you move?

There is more to it... (4, Interesting)

jonwil (467024) | about a year ago | (#45107661)

The real reason the broadcasters are doing this is because right now if you dont have an antenna (and many people dont, people in apartments and other shared dwellings, people with no light of sign to the transmission tower etc) the only way to get the OTA channels is to buy pay TV. And the pay TV operators pay a fair chunk of money to the OTA networks for rebroadcast rights.

So what Aereo is doing is allowing a lot more people to get the OTA channels without going through the cable companies (which means the cable companies wont be willing to pay as much for the rebroadcast rights to the OTA networks)

Re:There is more to it... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107789)

False. Any piece of wire bent to the proper shape will pull in near perfect reception of all local channels. I personally like octagon loop antennas of about 10 inch diameter made from 12 gauge wire (.08"). [66pacific.com]
I've used this antenna style for years on 2 TV's and it works as good or better than the Yaggi that was mounted up on my roof before I bought my home.

Any input from the resident EE's?

Re:There is more to it... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45107847)

I'm not an EE; but it depends on your location, hills and other clutter, distance to tower, etc.

Especially with ATSC's limited amount of error correction capacity, if you are in a strong signal area you can probably get a perfect image by unbending a paper clip and shoving it in, or just about any other horrible maldesign you care to subject your tuner to.

If you live in the sticks? Maybe some combination of HAM enthusiast and radio astronomer skills will save you, no guarantees. In areas of intermediate strength, vague competence may actually be required; but antenna design has improved since that monstrosity was bolted to the roof in 1965.

Re:There is more to it... (1)

Megane (129182) | about a year ago | (#45107931)

Will it give perfect reception of multipath signals too? ATSC is apparently harder to receive close to the transmitters because multipath can fuck with the digital signal pretty badly. I'm about 15-20 miles from "the farm" and have to turn my big antenna in the right direction or I get bad reception. Every few months I have to go up and rotate it back after the wind blows it around.

Re:There is more to it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108043)

I am an EE. I live a mile from a massive transmitter. However, if you are adjacent to buildings the provide reflections you will have an extremely difficult time receiving some of the channels. This is a complaint on more than one continent...

I had a mythtv box for those channels I could get. But now I have netflix and what I can see online. Basically the TV companies have missed a trick and they are showing sour grapes.

I don't pay for Cable, I buy DSL instead...

Re:There is more to it... (1)

shentino (1139071) | about a year ago | (#45107817)

Unfortunately, pissing off a special interest is probably going to get you nailed.

If Aereo is so horrible (Napster, Bittorrent)... (3, Insightful)

dryriver (1010635) | about a year ago | (#45107665)

... then why don't the big broadcaster get together and buy Aereo before it can - supposedly! - "do more damage". --- This whole thing reeks of the stink TPTB raised each time an Internet file-sharing tech came along. Instead of investing/going along with the "new wave in media consumption", TPTB always demonize whatever the latest content-delivery mechanism does. ---- So My Dear Big-Broadcasters: Put your money where your mouth is, and buy Aereo "for the good of the industry". --- I sometimes wish that the Big Media PTB would hire a CEO/CTO who is in his 20s - 30s only. I bet that CEO/CTO would go along with new trends in media distribution and consumption, instead of trying to shut them/shoot them down before they even get a chance to mature. My 2 Cents... As always, feel free to disagree. =)

Re:If Aereo is so horrible (Napster, Bittorrent).. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107689)

Age is irrelevant. You'll find enough 20-somethings who are just as greedy or ignorant as current executives. They won't suddenly hire someone who's pro-consumer just because of age.

If you equate young age with knowledge, one might as well argue we'd end up with a worse one because he'd know where to attack where it hurts most.

Re:If Aereo is so horrible (Napster, Bittorrent).. (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about a year ago | (#45107711)

... then why don't the big broadcaster get together and buy Aereo before it can - supposedly! - "do more damage". --- This whole thing reeks of the stink TPTB raised each time an Internet file-sharing tech came along. Instead of investing/going along with the "new wave in media consumption", TPTB always demonize whatever the latest content-delivery mechanism does.

Great question, and great advice for the industry.

In another industry, the big publishers own and operate magazines.com ... they could have been idiots and tried to stamp out internet subscription agents, but instead they became the biggest one. Duh.

Re:If Aereo is so horrible (Napster, Bittorrent).. (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#45107835)

.. then why don't the big broadcaster get together and buy Aereo before it can - supposedly! - "do more damage"

Three reasons:

1) If you win in court, it prevents other people from trying to pull the same stunt
2) It may well be cheaper to pay lawyers to litigate against Aereo instead of attempting to buy it.
3) It just might not be for sale.

Re:If Aereo is so horrible (Napster, Bittorrent).. (1)

countach (534280) | about a year ago | (#45107891)

You didn't read the article, which I suppose is par for the course on slashdot. They don't care less about Aereo. They care about the precedent that anyone can take their programming free and resell it if you set up enough antennas. If Aereo can do it, anyone can.

Re:If Aereo is so horrible (Napster, Bittorrent).. (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#45108459)

The business model is leasing an antenna to a consumer, and providing the connection. They don't like the fact that this is legal.

I'd like to have this kind of service, but not for TV.

Re:If Aereo is so horrible (Napster, Bittorrent).. (0)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45108061)

Because the minute they do that, somebody else will set up Beereo and Ceereo to compete with them.

This is nothing more... (4, Insightful)

unitron (5733) | about a year ago | (#45107669)

...than a case of how far away from your TV your DVR is allowed to be located.

Which is to say the broadcasters are trying to use smoke and mirrors to cover up rent seeking.

Re:This is nothing more... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45108073)

No, it's not. You don't own the antenna. That's a potential legal distinction. And you don't own the DVR. That's another potential legal distinction.

Re:This is nothing more... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108179)

So people living in rented accomodation (where they don't own the antenna) or who pay a monthly fee to rent their TV and set-top-box combo aren't allowed to legally watch TV either? Good to know.

So thats how long it takes... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107687)

I remember before there was FOX network.

When they came along the big 3 had such a hissyfit at them for daring to do something different.

And now here we are.. Fox is having the fit for someone else daring to do something different.

Didn't take very long at all. 27 years to turn you into a stick up the ass 'we demand profits forever for doing the same thing' greedmonster.

Re:So thats how long it takes... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45107911)

The world just keeps on turning: Cable TV, as an industry, got its start in providing access to broadcast signals(by putting antennas in good locations and running coax to lousy ones). As usual, the broadcast guys cried hysterically about how this...um... free access to additional customers would ruin them, America, and apple pie.

Unfortunately, it didn't, and the broadcasters are still around, while the cable guys have whitewashed their past as upstarts and are playing 'asshole incumbent' with the best of them.

Re:So thats how long it takes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108137)

but cabletv pay nbc, cbs, etc to broadcast the signal to the lousy location. they even demand the market the lousy locations see. why should Aereo be any different?

Re:So thats how long it takes... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45108085)

It's not similar. Fox set up another television network that did not use the signals of the other 3 networks.

The next move of any corporation that finds succes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108285)

is to seek to outlaw the very process by which they became successful.

Apple did it.

Disney did it.

TW did it.

& now its Foxes turn.

Hmmm I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107699)

I wonder if this isn't a big deal because Aereo isn't rebroadcasting. Broadcasting is transmitting to a wider audience. Aereo has a single antenna distributing to a single person. Obviously this is what Aereo thinks is the case, the stream from my DVR to my TV is not a "rebroadcast." Contrast this with the cable TV operators, who receive the signal once, often through specialized equipment, and send it to all of their local subscribers.

Re:Hmmm I wonder... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45107861)

I wonder if this isn't a big deal because Aereo isn't rebroadcasting. Broadcasting is transmitting to a wider audience. Aereo has a single antenna distributing to a single person. Obviously this is what Aereo thinks is the case, the stream from my DVR to my TV is not a "rebroadcast." Contrast this with the cable TV operators, who receive the signal once, often through specialized equipment, and send it to all of their local subscribers.

That's the essence of Aereo's legal position(founded on the 'Cablevision Case', where CableVision's 'cloud DVR product, with a similar 'one tuner and storage allocation per user, controlled by the user' was upheld as licit).

Team Broadcast is apparently shitting themselves for some combination of (A) reactionary stupidity and (B) fear that cable companies that currently pay absurd fees to retransmit OTA programming will find it cheaper to set up these goofy antenna-array things than to pay off the broadcasters(which is a pretty good sign that the broadcasters are currently overpaid, if such a silly mechanism actually saves money; but they obviously like being overpaid...)

Re:Hmmm I wonder... (1)

Rob Hostetter (2908585) | about a year ago | (#45107959)

FCC requires cable operators to rebroadcast local OTA stations, but they have to pay for that. The broadcasters can essentially charge whatever they want since cable operators are legally required to buy their product. Those operators are pooping themselves because if they stop OTA broadcasts then cable operators no longer have to buy their product, and if they continue then antenna arrays can get them around these fees, so the big cash cows that are cable operators will dry up overnight once this decision is upheld. Over time cable operators will be able to lower prices, or increase profits substantially!

Re:Hmmm I wonder... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45107977)

Oh, that's a cute little subsidy. I'm sure I'd throw up in my mouth if I heard the 'justification' for why a cable provider should be required to carry OTA signals and pay more or less whatever is demanded, because they are required.

Is that just a pure handout to the broadcast guys, or is there anything even slightly redeeming about it?

Nice to see the lawyers reflexes are quick... (1)

The123king (2395060) | about a year ago | (#45107705)

because this is the typical knee-jerk response from any company whose income supply is threatened by another.

Why isn't this libel? (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#45107725)

with Fox claiming about Aereo, 'Make no mistake, Aereo is stealing our broadcast signal.'

It's clearly not theft. Why is it not illegal for Fox to make this fraudulent claim in a public forum?

Re:Why isn't this libel? (1, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | about a year ago | (#45107821)

Because Fox is a corporation and not an individual.

Re:Why isn't this libel? (1, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#45107843)

"Corporations are people, my friend."

Re:Why isn't this libel? (2, Insightful)

Gryle (933382) | about a year ago | (#45107901)

I'll believe that when I can have a corporation executed.

Re:Why isn't this libel? (2)

oobayly (1056050) | about a year ago | (#45108165)

Well, have the government ever shut down a corporation? That'd count as execution*. It would be interesting to know what the capital punishment rate of corporations is to that of people.

* The difference I suppose is that the soul of the corporation can be reincarnated into a similar body and even live in the same house. Realisation of the day - corporations are Hindu.

Re:Why isn't this libel? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45107933)

If pressed, I assumed that they would fall back on the 'mere abuse' allowance. If made in sufficiently absurd terms that a reasonable listener/reader would concluded that they are not meant literally (and, given the nontrivial difficulty of 'stealing' an unencrypted RF transmission, rather than merely receiving it, 'stealing' is unlikely to be literal) they can be treated as (legal) generic rubbishing of the opponent, rather than (illegal) false and defamatory claims.

It's the difference between calling John Smith a 'goatfucker' and asserting that 'John Smith practices bestiality with goats'.

Re:Why isn't this libel? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#45108211)

Why is it not illegal for Fox to make this fraudulent claim in a public forum?

Because some of us believe in free speech rights. There's nothing that says you have to believe them.

Re:Why isn't this libel? (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#45108421)

Why is it not illegal for Fox to make this fraudulent claim in a public forum?

Because some of us believe in free speech rights.

It is already illegal to knowingly make false claims, especially of a legal nature, in the public eye — specifically, with the intent to cause harm, which this clearly represents. It is a deliberate attempt to mislead for financial gain and other purposes.

Re:Why isn't this libel? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#45108495)

It is a deliberate attempt to mislead for financial gain and other purposes.

So what? If anybody believes them, it's their own damn fault.

Constitution (2, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year ago | (#45107731)

Since the Americans hold their Constitution so dear, almost to the level of Scripture itself, maybe a proper way to deal with corporate parasitism, is to make it unconstitutional to make any law which props up a failing business model or restricts competition in a free market.

Re:Constitution (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#45107937)

sigh... not this misconception again.

The constitution enumerates what the government is allowed to do. It does not enumerate what the government is forbidden to do.

But thanks to over a century of people (like you) not knowing that.. the government does whatever it wants.

Re:Constitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108431)

Apparently you never bothered to actually read the US Constitution. But considering that almost no other country offers the level of individual right protection afforded by the US Constitution, I am not surprised.

NIH? (1)

grahammm (9083) | about a year ago | (#45107753)

Maybe this is just a case of Not Invented Here, and the broadcasters are wishing that they had thought of, and implemented, first the idea of streaming live on the internet and having a PVR like service. The BBC has had this for some time allowied you to stream the currently broadcast programmes and more recently allowed you to pause and resume, as you can on a PVR. Other UK broadcasters have similar internet offerings, some even allowing you to watch certain programmes before they are broadcast on-air.

Re:NIH? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107771)

Maybe this is just a case of Not Invented Here, and the broadcasters are wishing that they had thought of, and implemented, first the idea of streaming live on the internet and having a PVR like service. The BBC has had this for some time allowied you to stream the currently broadcast programmes and more recently allowed you to pause and resume, as you can on a PVR. Other UK broadcasters have similar internet offerings, some even allowing you to watch certain programmes before they are broadcast on-air.

You can't compare the american broadcast entities with the BBC or other European public broadcasters. The reason is that in Europe, we pay a tax (called a tv license fee) for the public broadcasting system. So the BBC, Arte, RAI, etc... are being payed by us. That's why they have no problem giving us a internet stream version. In the US, broadcasters are NOT subsidized by public taxes, so they have to broadcast freely OTA by law. But then can charge the cable companies to rebroadcast via cable what is freely done OTA. They don't want to lose this lucrative money stream hence all the vitriol against Aero.

Re:NIH? (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45107777)

no, not a NIH.

they already invented getting paid for retransmitting the signal they broadcast.

it's not the pvr. it's the retransmit of something they're sending out. aereo is cutting into their fat, fat margin on that service(you'd think that a ota free channel would only be aiming for highest possible viewers?? HAHAHAHA NOT SO! because this is bizarro world. they're shooting for the highest possible money extraction from cable companies and the cable companies customers.).

Great Advertisement. (2)

Usefull Idiot (202445) | about a year ago | (#45107785)

If you weren't suing them, I may not have heard of their service. Now that I'm aware of it, I will most likely sign up once they are in my area.

Broadcast Signals (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about a year ago | (#45107825)

I'm fairly certain that it's actually the taxpayer that licenses the right to use these frequencies to the broadcaster in the first place. Shouldn't the taxpayer have some say in how they are subsequently used?

Re:Broadcast Signals (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45108143)

We do. They're periodically required to demonstrate that their license is in the public interest. The rules for demonstrating that their service is in the public interest are extremely liberal, but they do exist.

More Not-Capitalism (0)

Required Snark (1702878) | about a year ago | (#45107831)

Like almost all large US business interests, they are anti-competition. They want their walled garden with guaranteed profits. The only competition they accept is with their equally protected co-monopolists over who gets to squeeze the most money out of powerless consumers who have no meaningful choice.

When actual capitalism with real competitors breaks out, they run screaming to the courts and the law makers to make it go away. This is usually all it takes. If they loose in the courts they just buy some legislation to get what they want.

Want an example? It's a felony to unlock your smart phone without approval from you carrier [theatlantic.com] .

BY DECREE OF THE LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS

IT SHALL HENCEFORCE BE ORDERED THAT AMERICANS SHALL NOT UNLOCK THEIR OWN SMARTPHONES.

PENALTY: In some situations, first time offenders may be fined up to $500,000, imprisoned for five years, or both. For repeat offenders, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of $1,000,000, imprisonment for up to ten years, or both.

Yes, just like murder, bank robbery, smuggling drugs, child molestation, kidnapping, etc. The White House is trying to reverse this, but it's not clear if this is enforced at the current time.

Despite all the heated rhetoric, the US is the home of Not Capitalism. No one seems to notice or care. Shut up an pay whatever your owners demand. Or go to jail.

Beginnning of the end of OTA ... (-1)

fygment (444210) | about a year ago | (#45107897)

... thanks Aereo. The broadcasters are correct, Aereo is stealing by reselling content that is not theirs to resell. If they streamed it for free, that would be different. In any case, the broadcasters have likely been looking for a reason to forego OTA and this is as good a reason as any.

Alternative business idea: take OTA FM radio broadcasts and stream that to subscribers ... oh, that's illegal too.

Re:Beginnning of the end of OTA ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108093)

Alternative business idea: take OTA FM radio broadcasts and stream that to subscribers ... oh, that's illegal too.

Wait, most radio stations already do that, and for free. It's the RIAA and their demands for royalties at a much higher rates that keeps the others off the internet. Aereo radio wouldn't be a viable business.

Come to think about it, why shouldn't the TV stations compete against Aereo by offering streaming as well? Offer it for a cheaper price or free, yet protect ad revenues by limiting ad skipping.

Re:Beginnning of the end of OTA ... (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#45108363)

They are leasing you an antenna ... and connecting you to YOUR antenna for free.

Here's the problem.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107919)

If the courts decide Aereo doesn't have to pay the broadcasters, then Big Cable won't have to either. The networks will have to go back to 100% advertising revenue. I promise that will not be good for the consumers.

Re:Here's the problem.. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45108029)

If the courts decide Aereo doesn't have to pay the broadcasters, then Big Cable won't have to either. The networks will have to go back to 100% advertising revenue. I promise that will not be good for the consumers.

Are you seriously suggesting that there is anything on OTA that is even worth the RF space is chews up? The broadcasters would be doing us all a favor by shrivelling up, dying, and leaving the field open for people who give a damn to pay for service, and people who don't not to have to deal with the ripple effects of the subsidies that keep them creaking along.

Re:Here's the problem.. (1)

Rob W (3395355) | about a year ago | (#45108051)

So you want the broadcasters to shrivel up & die.. That would leave Aereo with nothing to retransmit. Who wins then? Certainly not the consumer!

Re:Here's the problem.. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45108089)

So you want the broadcasters to shrivel up & die.. That would leave Aereo with nothing to retransmit. Who wins then? Certainly not the consumer!

If a service that snags OTA transmissions out of the air (using a Rube Goldberg device, for legal reasons) and then shoves them over the internet is commercially viable, I have a sneaky plan: shut down the 'OTA transmission' and 'ridiculous antenna farm' parts of the process and just sell streaming video over the internet. Win-win. The OTA guys don't need depend on shaking down the cable companies and ad-spamming their customers for money; because they can just have subscribers, and the goofy unnecessary infrastructure intricacies can be removed, saving money and spectrum for everyone.

Re:Here's the problem.. (1)

Rob W (3395355) | about a year ago | (#45108145)

If a service that snags OTA transmissions out of the air (using a Rube Goldberg device, for legal reasons) and then shoves them over the internet is commercially viable, I have a sneaky plan: shut down the 'OTA transmission' and 'ridiculous antenna farm' parts of the process and just sell streaming video over the internet. Win-win. The OTA guys don't need depend on shaking down the cable companies and ad-spamming their customers for money; because they can just have subscribers, and the goofy unnecessary infrastructure intricacies can be removed, saving money and spectrum for everyone.

Because it's probably only commercially viable if you don't actually have to pay to produce the the content you're shoving over the internet.

Re:Here's the problem.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108091)

I don't look forward to the day that I have to pay a monthly fee to watch local news, or watch a Pay-Per-View Superbowl. That is essentially what you are suggesting

Re:Here's the problem.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45108167)

The only people who are going to be able to buy that spectrum are AT&T and Verizon. And no, your data plan cap will still be 5 Gb, and overages at 10 dollars per Gig. You actually thought that this spectrum would be used to the benefit of America!?! AT&T and Verizon will buy it only to prevent a competitor from gaining market share in their duopoly.

Really (Sqore:200000) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45107951)

Aereo's illegal disruption of their business model.

Business models have no legal protection.

I open a lemonade stand. A kid down the street does the same. So I can call the cops on him? Really?!

Re:Really (Sqore:200000) (1)

Rob W (3395355) | about a year ago | (#45108005)

If he takes your lemonade without compensating you, then sells it for his own profit.. What would you do then?

Re:Really (Sqore:200000) (1)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | about a year ago | (#45108159)

It's more like you were giving out lemonade for free and I charged money for me to go to your stand, get the lemonade, and deliver it to people. You'd just be pissed because you're already getting money from the laws that force local restaurants to have to buy your lemonade at whatever price you want. If they can set up an operation like mine, you lose money you shouldn't be getting in the first place.

Re:Really (Sqore:200000) (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#45108163)

I'd raise my price to what he re-sells the lemonade for. But we're not discussing lemonade. We're discussing copyright.

Retransmission fees are a scam anyway (5, Informative)

DewDude (537374) | about a year ago | (#45108263)

If you've ever had your provider get in to a deadlock contract with an OTA station; you'll realize retransmission fees are a scam.

According to the law; a TV station has two options; they can negotiate a retransmission fee for a cable system; or invoke "must-carry", in which the cable provider is *required* to carry them. The station does not have to pay for a "must-carry" station; they are however required by law to carry them. That's bad for the cable company because they have to dedicate QAM space to a channel they may not want. However, if a cable provider negotiates a retransmission fee; they are allowed at that point to insert "local" ads over OTA stations.

In reality; the stations are only screaming about *potential* loss of profits here. The real losers are the local advertisers; who are paying the bills to keep the station's OTA signal running. Thier ads will only get seen by people with OTA; and those times when a local company isn't inserting ads over airtime.

This is why it's common in some areas for a cable/satellite provider to lose the right to carry a local channel. The station wants more money to reach it's demographic; and when a deal cannot be struck, the channel becomes unavailable. If it's a network affiliate; you lose that network entirely. FCC laws prohibit an "outside" station to be piped in to another market. Ironically; this law was made to protect local advertisers, ensuring they had a better chance to be seen in a market where their ads are already possibly being covered over with whatever promotion your provider is running this month.

The ruling that Aereo is legal was upheld by an appellate court already. They found the place-shifting technology (which is what this is); did not constitute public performance. Likewise; since there was an individual receiver and antenna for each user; there was no breaking of any law.

A2B TV does a similar thing; only with satellite TV. And they've even changed since I first found them. Used to be they'd get you set up with a cable TV account at whatever provider was local to the datacenter, along with a slingbox and "hosting space"; thier new model seems to use satellite TV and you have to send them a receiver. I own a Slingbox (two of them actually); and it's perfectly legal to have them hooked up to my TV's; of course I do pay for a TV service. But what about the Slingbox I sent to my friend in Texas with an OTA receiver so I could watch my favorite football team? Legally, it's my receiver and my hardware; so it *still* falls under placeshifting; and it's still not public retransmission.

Networks are going to complain and bitch because they're "getting thier business model stolen"; they seem to forget thier original business model was providing a service for free that was funded by advertisers; that's shifted in to a service that's still provided free, but paid for by cable and satellite companies. I can't blame advertisers for wanting to pay next to nothing; would *you* want to pay top-dollar for advertising knowing the majority of your demographic on cable or satellite might not see it? Of course not.

Again, it's just the networks sitting there looking at the potential profits they're losing because a lousy business model they created failed; one that was doomed for failure in the first place. What were they doing all those years when analog C-Band was still dominate; and they did not scramble the network fee? All those people were watching network TV without local inserted ads. What were they doing before the 1992 act and cable providers could literally pipe in any OTA channel their antenna farm could pick up; you know, back when the FCC mandated providers had to carry locals. Complicate the matter by the fact the FCC has allowed cable broadcasters to begin encrypting OTA feeds; which were once required to be left unencrypted.

The real issue is if they get this declared illicit; what's to stop them going further? They could begin saying multi-room DVR is illegal; worse yet, they could begin saying those of us who pay for a TV service are no longer allowed to stream them in manners that 100% comply with the law now.

Networks don't care about *you*; they care about *money*. They care more about money than they do about eyes; which is funny, because usually more eyes on the channel equates to more money. Oh, wait; they kind of killed the whole making money off local advertisers. I guess it's convenient the digital switchover caused a decrease in reception range over analog; people on the fringe have to get cable now.

The entire point behind cable TV was to get local OTA channels in to areas that suffered from reception issues. In fact, it was started by a TV shop owner who wanted to sell more TV's in a mountainous area where reception was spotty for some of his customers. In those cases; it wasn't even retransmission; it was simply hooking someone up to an existing antenna. CATV stands for "Community Antenna TeleVision"; not "CAble TeleVision".

The only losers in this are the consumer and possibly people who create placeshifting devices. One can only hope if the the networks leave OTA; they too will fail. I'm sure the FCC wouldn't be too happy if OTA broadcasters left either; but I offhand don't remember the regulations on all that. The best solution would be to repeal the 1992 regulation and let it go back to being a free-for-all. I'd love to be able to watch Baltimore locals again.

Seems fairly cut and dried (0)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#45108335)

I don't ordinarily like taking the networks' side in matters, because I really hate television, but if Aereo is rebroadcasting the signal, the fact that it's OTA doesn't change anything... it's copyright infringement, plain and simple. Arguing that it isn't just because the signal is made freely available to anyone and broadcast in the clear is about on par with the argument that somebody can relicense GNU software however they like just because the source code is freely available for them to modify.

Just because you *can* do something, doesn't necessarily mean that you're necessarily in the clear to actually go and do it.

Now if we could only get Congress to ... (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#45108375)

... shut down OTA TV, then I'd be happy.

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