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

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the dedpuplication-considered-massively-infringing dept.

Television 342

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

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Doubt it will shut down cloud storage... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825319)

What matters is clout. Both mp3.com and Google did a similar thing. mp3.com was destroyed utterly, while Google faced a little bit of RIAA finger waggle.

I doubt this will affect anything cloud-wise.

Re:Doubt it will shut down cloud storage... (2)

alen (225700) | about 6 months ago | (#46825433)

yeah, not like any of the big media companies have sued dropbox or google over retransmission of their works

Re:Doubt it will shut down cloud storage... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825509)

mp3.com stored a single copy of each song - and streamed copies of that shared song to users who had shown (by inserting a CD or buying the song from a mp3.com associate) that they owned it. While mp3.com claimed that they were protecting individual Fair Use (or was it First Sale?) rights, the technical point on which they were crucified was not the streaming to individual users, but the creation of the shared database (for their own commercial benefit).

In the Aereo case, they are not taking the signals from a single shared antenna (or from a small group of shared antennas) and replicating them. That would open them to the sort of attack that destroyed mp3.com. Instead, Aereo is taking the technically-very-ugly, but legally-more-likely-to-be-sound approach of having huge farms of micro-antennas, and renting individual antennas to individual customers. It is the broadcast signals from the plaintiffs that are replicating the programs – same as if the broadcast signals hit an equivalent number of rabbit-ears antennas in an equivalent number of houses.

Re:Doubt it will shut down cloud storage... (2)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 6 months ago | (#46825841)

What's the difference, functionally, if I rent a house with an antenna on the roof then use a Slingbox / SiliconDust Homerun or rent a server that has an antenna on it? Practically none to actually none, really. The legal difference will hopefully be the same.

Re:Doubt it will shut down cloud storage... (4, Insightful)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 months ago | (#46825963)

There's no difference functionally. The difference is legal. And now they are being crucified for attempting to comply with previous court decisions because by doing so they look "shady".

How many? (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46825335)

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

Re:How many? (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46825363)

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

All of them.

Technology is reaching the point where the content industries more or less have to give permission for everything it gets used for.

And, anything which they interpret as cutting into their revenue stream or otherwise making it possible to copy something, is going to be vigorously fought by them.

This is the buggy whip makers telling us that we need their permission to design highways. And innovation will suffer.

Re:How many? (0)

bws111 (1216812) | about 6 months ago | (#46825449)

Ah, yes, the stupid old 'buggy whip makers' argument.

Buggy whip makers went out of business because people did not want buggy whips. Are you trying to claim that people don't want the content the content producers are making? If that is your claim, then why does this case even exist? Surely if people don't want the content then there is no need for Aereo.

Re:How many? (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#46825481)

People never wanted buggy whips. People wanted transport. Buggy whips were just a means to that end.

Re:How many? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825561)

You focused too much on the using of the phrase 'buggy whip makers'

The argument would be the same if the person before used 'car makers' in place of 'buggy whip makers'

For example:

All of them.

Technology is reaching the point where the content industries more or less have to give permission for everything it gets used for.

And, anything which they interpret as cutting into their revenue stream or otherwise making it possible to copy something, is going to be vigorously fought by them.

This is the car makers telling us that we need their permission to design highways. And innovation will suffer.

He's trying to say that the people who make content are also trying to control the methods of receiving that content. Not necessarily that the content itself is outmoded.

Please understand the argument before criticizing it.

Re:How many? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825567)

He's trying to claim that people who have outdated business models are attempting to use government thugs to stop people who have better business models from innovating.

Re:How many? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 6 months ago | (#46825585)

The buggy whips are the business model.
People want content, not the outdated business model that comes bundled with it.

Re:How many? (2)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | about 6 months ago | (#46825587)

Buggy whip makers went out of business because people did not want buggy whips.

Exactly. Nobody stopped cars (or highways) because the buggy whip makers weren't allowed to restrict development and innovation. That would've been crazy. The argument the GP is making is that to allow ABC et al. to shut down Aereo would be akin to letting buggy whip makers prevent cars. Which would be absurd. Reductio ad absurdum, some might say.

Re:How many? (1, Insightful)

bws111 (1216812) | about 6 months ago | (#46825757)

Well, he is entirely wrong if that is his argument. Aereo is not producing (or paying for) content, ABC is. Aereo is, in fact, entirely dependant on ABC et al, they just don't think they need to pay for that. Car makers, however, were in no way dependant on buggy whip makers - they were COMPETITORS. If Aereo wants to put ABC out of business by producing their own content and drawing viewers from ABC, ABC can't do anything about it. But as long as their model is 'bleed the host until it is dead', you can expect the host to put up a fight.

Re:How many? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 months ago | (#46826019)

And they are correct. They are following the same cable laws that birthed the cable industry.

Are you suggesting that cable companies "bled their hosts dry" before the addition of cable channels owned by the networks and then forced into packages? These shows are available for free with ads, you know.

Re:How many? (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about 6 months ago | (#46825589)

People just wanted to get from one place to another; how didn't matter much.

Part of a transport system is personal (the carriage) and part is infrastructural (the road). Those whose market was on the personal side wanted to control the infrastructural side, which is the problem.

Re:How many? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825617)

Buggy whips were used to help moving around. This Aereo service is apparently used to watch content. People want to move around but they don't want buggy whips. People want to watch content, and some of them apparently want the Aereo service.

Your argument is flawed because the question is about the means, not the desired end result. People do want to watch the content. That does not mean they necessarily want to watch it using the means offered to them, in this case using their own antenna.

The GP was arguing that the "buggy whip makers" should not be allowed to dictate the means. Not being allowed to watch content the way you want would be somewhat analoguous to buggy whips being a mandatory part of cars from this point of view.

Re:How many? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825637)

>Are you trying to claim that people don't want the content the content producers are making?

Yes. Oh, sure, people want to be entertained still. During the buggy whip to car phase, people still wanted to go places.

People want to be entertained with easily accessible, high quality content that runs everywhere. The "buggy whip" companies want to entertain you with the same content you already own, in a difficult to access manner, using only certain approved devices you may or may not own.

You know, like how you still want to go to work, but you'd prefer to get there quickly and without any horseshit (literally!). The buggy whip guys want you to go to work slowly, in a "vehicle" that requires extensive daily maintenance, and doesn't support anything you own today (ever looked for a cigar lighter outlet on a horse?! or even a radio knob?)

Re:How many? (5, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 months ago | (#46825645)

You are incorrectly confabulating broadcasting with content producing.

It is not "content producers" that people don't want because guess what it isn't the content producers that are suing Aereo.

Instead it is the over the air broadcasters that are suing and no one wants them. They are not all the producers and not all of them produce content Back before we had internet, cable TV, and satellite TV, actual over the air broadcasting made sense. But not any more.

People do want the content - which is why content producers will continue to exist. People do NOT want to receive it by broadcast, which is why people want Aereo to take that junk off the air and put it on wires.

Yes it is true that the broadcasters used to be wealthy and therefore bought up most (but not all) of the content producers. Now the broadcasters are going the way of the Buggy Whip. They may be able to survive as content producers, but only if they stop trying to marry their content production to their horrible, stupid delivery system that few people want and is only be propped up by out-dated laws.

If they insist on sending their wonderful content out on horrible radiowaves, then they will have to do so a week after they offer them to cable operators (just like Hulu does with Hulu prime.). You want the stuff right away, pay for it. If you don't care, wait for for it.

Re:How many? (0)

bws111 (1216812) | about 6 months ago | (#46825801)

Of course the over the air broadcasters are complaining. They actual PAY for the content. Then Aereo comes and leeches off the broadcasters, taking away a source of revenue, without paying anything. When Aereo actually produces (or pays for) it's own content, then you may have a point.

Re:How many? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46826003)

Aereo "leeches" off the broadcasters in *exactly* the same way that anyone else in the broadcast area with an antenna "leeches" off the broadcasters.

If anything, Aereo is providing a service to the broadcasters by increasing the potential size of their respective audiences.

Re:How many? (1)

unrtst (777550) | about 6 months ago | (#46826037)

Of course the over the air broadcasters are complaining. They actual PAY for the content. Then Aereo comes and leeches off the broadcasters, taking away a source of revenue, without paying anything. When Aereo actually produces (or pays for) it's own content, then you may have a point.

How are they taking away a source of revenue? (bear with me... I haven't looked into Aereo much... maybe they're offering commercial skipping or something)

I get that the broadcaster has legit deals in place for the content the distribute.
I get that Aereo is sending that broadcast content to users.
But Aereo is using (supposedly) one antenna per user, and nothing is recorded (AFAIK), so the user is getting the exact same content they would get for free over the air.
This doesn't take away anything from the broadcaster (AFAICT).

Re:How many? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 months ago | (#46826047)

They are following cable laws that were enacted to allow those with poor reception an option to get their local channels. These laws allowed the cable operators to show free channels for free, which is exactly what Aereo is doing.

Re:How many? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 6 months ago | (#46825999)

Instead it is the over the air broadcasters that are suing and no one wants them.

Except all the people who have antennas and rely on OTA for their content. Perhaps because they don't have/don't want to pay for broadband?

People do NOT want to receive it by broadcast, which is why people want Aereo to take that junk off the air and put it on wires.

Of course there are people who want to receive "it" by broadcast. And there are already wired modes to get "it".

This is a case of a new player using the broadcast signal to provide a pay service without remuneration to the broadcast source. The broadcaster is paying the fees for the content and getting nothing in return.

Now the broadcasters are going the way of the Buggy Whip.

During an emergency, there is still nothing as efficient as broadcast for dissemination of information to the public. Broadcast has not and will not for a very long time become a "buggy whip". You may decide not to rely on or use it, but many many other people do.

Re:How many? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46826031)

And as soon as the broadcasters go the way of the buggy whip in your take on things, Aereo is as dead as they are. They depend on those broadcasters for their free content, unless of course Aereo wants to admit that they are just a rebroadcaster and pay for content.

Re:How many? (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46825723)

Ah, yes, the stupid old 'buggy whip makers' argument.

Yawn ... ah, yes, the it's stupid because I say so argument.

Do you know the origins of the term? This [wikipedia.org] might help:

Marketing myopia is a term used in marketing as well as the title of an important marketing paper written by Theodore Levitt.[1] This paper was first published in 1960 in the Harvard Business Review, a journal of which he was an editor. Marketing Myopia suggests that businesses will do better in the end if they concentrate on meeting customers' needs rather than on selling products.

The Myopic culture, Levitt postulated, would pave the way for a business to fail, due to the short-sighted mindset and illusion that a firm is in a so-called 'growth industry'. This belief leads to complacency and a loss of sight of what customers want.

[snip]

There is a greater scope of opportunities as the industry changes. It trains managers to look beyond their current business activities and think "outside the box". George Steiner (1979) is one of many in a long line of admirers who cite Levitt's famous example on transportation. If a buggy whip manufacturer in 1910 defined its business as the "transportation starter business," they might have been able to make the creative leap necessary to move into the automobile business when technological change demanded it

So, how about this ... you refute the underlying thing meant when most of us say "buggy whips", and I won't tell you how little I care about how you feel about the specifics of the metaphor. Sound fair?

The point is, in the face of technological changes and advancement, instead of understanding what it is people actually want and enabling it, these companies are demonstrating short-sightedness, an unwillingness to adapt their business model, and due to lobbying and other crap, exert an undue level of control over industries relating to technology which is both unwarranted, outdated, and has an overall detrimental effect on progress by people who don't have their heads up their asses.

Now, if you have anything intelligent to add, I'm all ears. If you're going to simply dispute the metaphor keep it to yourself.

Re:How many? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 6 months ago | (#46825759)

A lot of people do not want the content either. However that's sort of irrelevant because the argument isn't about an industry that's getting out of date or is obsolete, but about the industry exerting too much control over their product which goes above and beyond what the common understanding of the law is. This is an industry that fought in the supreme court against merely time shifting the content using video recorders.

Re:How many? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 6 months ago | (#46825861)

'Common understanding of the law' according to who? While the copyright law is pretty large, the basic concept behind copyright law is in the Constitution - creators shall have exclusive right to their works.

Re:How many? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 months ago | (#46825989)

People don't really want CDs or DVDs or OTA, they want streaming. So yes.

Re:How many? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 6 months ago | (#46825399)

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

I don't think there's much evidence that over time, humanity gets any wiser. Each generation seems doomed to re-learn the hard lessons of those past.

Re:How many? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825431)

Yes, no, maybe.

Yes: The content industry is usually pretty dumb and behind the times.

No: Aereo is not the knight in shining armor here. It's not *just* that they're capturing the live streams, and live broadcasting them. Additionally, they're operating as a DVR service. They're recording the content, and allowing people to play it back at a later time, time shift, commercial skip etc. This is where they're going to come up against copyright. Additionally, congress established laws previously that basically said cable operators couldn't do this same thing. This is the real crux of the issue. Well it was, until broadcast companies started to own cable channels.

Maybe: Maybe aereo will get some sort of concession here. Perhaps live restreaming... But I think they're dead in the water on the recording and playback issue. If the supreme court allowed that, it would be open season on the redistribution of recorded content by anybody. They wouldn't do that. And of course, if aereo can't offer the DVR part of their service, then they're basically fucked. Also fucked is their stupid cloud argument. That's just designed to get nerds to support them. Full disclosure: I'm a nerd. I don't work in the content industry. I think aereo is a parasite.

Re:How many? (4, Insightful)

Altus (1034) | about 6 months ago | (#46825483)

So what, cloud based DVR is not not acceptable? Why is time shifting OK in a box in my livingroom but not on a box at some hosting service? Does it matter if I own or rent the actual server that is being used for the time shifting? What is so important about the internet that it invalidates the rights we have elsewhere?

Re:How many? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 6 months ago | (#46825913)

This industry also does not think that time shifting in your living room is ok, it's just that they were overruled on the time shifting issue by the supreme court.

They want to control where, when, and how the content is viewed. If they sell ads for for an 8pm time slot for Boise then they do not want you to watch that program at 10pm in Omaha (Aereo would at least keep the local ads which is why it's not a nationwide service).

Sort of ironic here in that content providers logically should support streaming since it grants a huge amount of DRM control compared to the anarchy of analog content.

Re:How many? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825599)

How is that different than having your own antenna and recording to a DVR? The identical arguments can be made there.

I'm an Aereo subscriber. Why? If I lived close enough to the city, I'd use an antenna and a DVR. But, there's a 3300' mountain between me and the city. I can't put an antenna up high enough that'll get even a single channel. Aereo can. I still watch their stupid ads, so the revenue model of the networks is unaffected.

Re:How many? (0)

alen (225700) | about 6 months ago | (#46825445)

in theory comcast buying time warner will make a huge player in the industry able to stand up to the content companies and tell them to go away next time they want more money

but the merger is bad. at least according to al franken who's is beholden to the content industry for campaign donations

Re:How many? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825519)

The problem is that the resulting huge player already owns some content companies, and many folks don't trust them to treat other content companies equally.

Re:How many? (5, Insightful)

ravenscar (1662985) | about 6 months ago | (#46825531)

Ahahahahaha! Are you joking? Comcast and Time Warner ARE content companies. That's the whole problem. Content providers should be completely separate from internet providers. When they aren't, the internet/content providers have incentive to make sure their content is unfairly promoted/protected on their networks. If you think Comcast/Time Warner will ever stand up to content companies I've got some wonderful property in the Everglades in which you might be interested.

Re:How many? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825605)

Comcast owns NBCUniversal, a content company: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acquisition_of_NBC_Universal_by_Comcast

Re:How many? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 6 months ago | (#46825551)

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

It is not the content industry that is attacking Aereo.. its not even the cable companies.

It is the broadcasters that are attacking Aereo because if Aereo is allowed to do what they are doing, then cable companies (who want to see Aereo win) can go ahead and do exactly what Aereo is doing, so they can avoid paying any redistribution fees to the broadcasters.

Re:How many? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 6 months ago | (#46825977)

The industry is all the same. Local stations are owned by major broadcasters, which are merged with major cable companies, which are part of conglomerates that own movie and television studios and distribution rights.

Re:How many? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 months ago | (#46826067)

Well, considering the laws to do this have been on the books forever, Aereo SHOULD win. But since the whole government seems to be bought by big content these days, there's no guarantees.

ah huh (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 6 months ago | (#46825341)

Yeah, I'm sure cloud service providers will be lined up outside the court rooms to shut themselves down due to precedent. Lots of motivation there.

Re:ah huh (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 6 months ago | (#46825371)

Perhaps they're hoping to startle Amazon et al. into filing amicus briefs in their favor.

They're trying to make it a bigger case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825361)

They're casting this as a decision that will overturn the Cablevision remote DVR decision. They didn't once refer to the fact they need individual antennas to make every transmission a "private performance" under copyright law.

Stop writing scotus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825375)

It sounds stupid

cant watch legally (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825379)

So, torrents win again?

Not sure how I feel about this one (5, Interesting)

Jmstuckman (561420) | about 6 months ago | (#46825395)

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

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

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

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (4, Interesting)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 6 months ago | (#46825427)

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

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

Re: (1)

Jmstuckman (561420) | about 6 months ago | (#46825661)

This surprises me. If the cable companies used to do this, then why do they pay royalties to the networks nowadays? Why is Aereo getting sued if they're doing the same thing the cable companies can do?

Re: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825797)

Because doing it through one big antenna as the cable companies used to has already been ruled illegal. Aereo's innovation is renting out an antenna to each and every customer. This wasn't possible to do practically until relatively recently.

Re: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825823)

The cable companies used a single antenna and redistributed the signal over their cable network. They actually had to pay a small fee to the TV stations, but in reality the TV stations were happy that their viewers had better reception.

Aereo uses a single antenna per customer, which you "lease" individually. You would think that the TV stations would be happy, but over the past few decades the TV stations (local affiliates and national) have become chummy with the cable providers, and cooperate on advertising, including targeted advertising. Part of the issue now is that the local affiliates are stuck between a rock and a hard place--if the national networks went full digital, they're screwed. If Aereo succeeds, they're screwed again (although not as bad) because they lose a growing source of income. The national stations are fine in the long-term, but short-term they lose control.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46826055)

They actually had to pay a small fee to the TV stations, but in reality the TV stations were happy that their viewers had better reception.

They were happy until the cable providers started to allow for centralized DVR services that could cut out the commercials, at which point the TV stations were gaining very little by having the cable companies provide their content to customers. Hence they got unhappy and that was ruled to be illegal.

Re: (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 6 months ago | (#46825917)

From the transcript, here is the argument the cable companies are giving that distinguishes the two. From pages 16-17:

But the reason there's a fundamental difference between the RS DVR at issue in CableVision and what Aereo provides is, as Justice Alito alluded to, the fact that there's a license in the CableVision context to get the initial performance to the public. And so then I think appropriately the focus in the CableVision context becomes just the playback feature and just the timeshifting that's enabled by that. And in that context, if you focus only on that, then the RS DVR looks a lot like a locker service where you have to come in with the content before you can get content out and you only get back the same content. And here is what really I think Aereo is like. Aereo is like if CableVision, having won in the Second Circuit, decides: Whew, we won, so guess what? Going forward, we're going to dispense with all these licenses, and we are just going to try to tell people we are just an RS DVR, that's all we are, and never mind that we don't have any licensed ability to get the broadcast in the first instance, and we're going to provide it to individual users, and it's all going to be because they push buttons and not because we push buttons. If that were the hypothetical, I don't know how that wouldn't be the clearest violation of the 1976 Act.

Re: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825939)

This surprises me. If the cable companies used to do this, then why do they pay royalties to the networks nowadays? Why is Aereo getting sued if they're doing the same thing the cable companies can do?

The networks paid to get the law changed in 1992.

Re: (1)

ngc3242 (1039950) | about 6 months ago | (#46826027)

If the cable companies used to do this, then why do they pay royalties to the networks nowadays?

Because the television stations sued them and won on the basis that the cable companies were essentially offering a public performance of the television broadcast because they had one antenna and transmitted the input to many users.

Why is Aereo getting sued if they're doing the same thing the cable companies can do?

Cable companies can do it currently because they license the content from the providers (i.e. they pay for the priviledge). Aereo is trying to get around paying the content providers by providing every subscriber with her own personal antenna and saying it's not a public performance. We're just automating what the subscribers could do themselves by erecting their own antenna, attaching it to a tuner and a dvr, and putting the DVR on the internet.

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 6 months ago | (#46825965)

This is how 'cablevision' used to work. They'd put up a big antenna that could pull down signals you couldn't

There is a huge difference: Cablevision put up *one* antenna and used that signal for thousands of users. Hence, public performance.

Aereo rents each individual user their own, private antenna. (Yes, if they have 10,000 subscribers, they have 10,000 antennas). Hence this is NOT a public performance; you are only watching what your own, private, rented equipment is receiving.

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (2)

wyattstorch516 (2624273) | about 6 months ago | (#46825477)

If the broadcasters that transmit over the public airways want to cease using these airways then fine let them do that. The government can then take the airways back and auction them off for other uses. The whole concept of over the air broadcast television is rather outdated anyway.

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825553)

Why, exactly? one-to-many is almost the perfect model for individual wavelengths. Whether broadcast television makes sense _as a business_ anymore is separate from whether broadcast in general makes sense as a technology.

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 6 months ago | (#46825529)

The cable companies are NOT "subsidizing" OTA broadcasts.

OTA broadcasts were the ORIGINAL way of doing TV. They're supposed to be paid for by the ADVERTISING.

If the content producers are getting paid extra by cable companies to carry the content, that's a BONUS for them, not a RIGHT.

But as per usual, the cable cos and content producers like to present their double dipping as some sort of OBLIGATION from the public to them.

Well, screw them. If they drop OTA broadcasting because it's not being "subsidized", then their LICENSE to broadcast at all should be yanked because the license is for OTA broadcasts, not a cable-only network.

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 6 months ago | (#46825665)

Did it ever occur to you that neither advertising fees nor subscription fees are enough, by themselves, to cover the cost and still make a profit?

It does not matter in the slightest what the 'original' method was. Back then, there were only a very few choices of what to watch, so each network had a huge number of viewers. Adverstising rates could be set high enough to cover the costs, because there was no other way for advertisers to reach that many people. Today, there are many, many choices for an advertiser to spend his money on. The TV stations can not raise rates high enough to pay for everything, so they use a model where SOME of the money comes from advertising and SOME of the money comes from subscription. That is in no way 'double dipping'.

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (1)

Altus (1034) | about 6 months ago | (#46825881)

Did it ever occur to you that neither advertising fees nor subscription fees are enough, by themselves, to cover the cost and still make a profit?

Is that why Viacom is posting record losses every quarter?

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (1)

jhumkey (711391) | about 6 months ago | (#46825675)

Makes sense to me . . .
1. I pay for Netflix (content charge) and can watch movies without commercials.
2. I watch Broadcast TV with commercials, and should pay only for xyz's cable system infrastructure (lines, repeaters, dvr boxes . . .) to get me clear picture/sound.
3. Or I pay no one and watch OTA broadcasts (and pay by watching commercials.)
Paying for BOTH #2 and #3 AND paying a content charge on top . . . is double or triple dipping of fees for the same viewing.
Yes, I understand Netflix in #1 has "servers and infrastructure" and I'm paying for both content and infrastructure, but that's my point, if they're telling me I must pay for both content and infrastructure on the cable system . . . why should I also suffer watching commercials too?
Its all inconsistent billing as its setup currently.

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (4, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | about 6 months ago | (#46825577)

If Aereo wins, the cable companies would be able to save money by erecting Aereo-style antenna arrays for their cable feeds, bypassing payments to the networks.

I doubt it, Aereo's legal position relies on one antenna per user. That also means one data stream per user.

So switching to doing things aereo style would require a cable company to massively re-engineer things.

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (1)

uncqual (836337) | about 6 months ago | (#46825851)

The cable companies may run into a problem doing what you suggest unless they send a separate stream from the antenna designated for your exclusive use to your (and, only your) STB. That would be a lot of duplicated bandwidth on the cable on Superbowl Sunday or after a 9/11 so I imagine quite a bit of infrastructure upgrade would be required.

Aereo seems to avoid the "public performance" in part by sending a dedicated stream to you (and only you), albeit over shared internet infrastructure. (I assume that if 1000 of their customers record the latest episode of Big Bang, they keep 1000 copies of it - if not, their argument would be a bit weaker).

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 months ago | (#46825879)

If Aereo wins, the cable companies would be able to save money by erecting Aereo-style antenna arrays for their cable feeds, bypassing payments to the networks.

It's not just the antennae, Aereo keeps and transmits an individual copy of the show which owned specifically by the user requesting it. Unless Cable is going to set up a channel on the line for each and every subscriber, which can only be accessed by them and many of which will be duplications of each other, they don't have the same legal justification. Now, they could do it the same way Aereo does it, saving the shows for each customer and delivering it over an IP video stream, but they can't just broadcast it to all their subscribers as a single "channel".

The fact that it's cheaper to create thousands of antennae and record thousands of hours of duplicated content and then deliver it using internet bandwidth rather than paying a fee to the providers and doing a simple broadcast says a lot about whats wrong with the content industry.

Re:Not sure how I feel about this one (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 6 months ago | (#46826011)

I think they will rule that Aereo is a cable company and is required to pay the fee. Congress wrote a special law that requires cable companies to pay the fees. Congress did this in reponse to a court ruling saying something similer to your position.

Over the air (5, Insightful)

Cmdr-Absurd (780125) | about 6 months ago | (#46825413)

(IANAL). I was quite surprised this even reached the high court. The broadcasters have a revenue model of paying by putting ads in front of eyeballs. This service arguably helps them meet that goal. Yes, I'm sure they'd like to double-dip and get paid for the "rebroadcast," but if you are giving your product away for free over the public airwaves, you should not be allowed to complain about where folks choose to locate their antennas. Be happy for the extra eyeballs.

Re:Over the air (1)

Monoman (8745) | about 6 months ago | (#46825489)

This!

Nobody has been able to demonstrate how Aereo is harming the broadcasters. Why? Because they are actually helping them.

Re:Over the air (-1, Flamebait)

CanHasDlY (3618887) | about 6 months ago | (#46825849)

Regardless of whether they're helping or harming them, government-enforced monopolies over ideas are immoral. It's utterly ridiculous that what Aereo's doing is even considered questionable.

Personally, I hope that the motherfuckers who put forth these anti-freedom lawsuits and laws get what's coming to them; a slow, painful death (in the monetary sense).

Re:Over the air (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#46825993)

Seriously, dude, stop posting with this account before I'm forced to report you.

Re:Over the air (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825855)

It's easy to see how the broadcasters are being harmed (or rather at risk of being harmed): If Aereo is allowed to do this, so are cable companies. And the cable companies currently pay a lot of coin to the broadcast networks for the right. That revenue is at risk. Any extra ad revenue they may get from having the eyeballs of Aereo customers is insignificant in comparison.

Re:Over the air (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825875)

Currently local affiliates and national broadcasters cooperate with cable stations to target ads. If you receive a station over-the-air, they can't target you. If you're using cable, they often target ads to particular neighborhoods--in one part of town you see Scientology ads, in another you see Boost Mobile ads. Aereo messes with that model.

(I hope Aereo wins, though.)

Re:Over the air (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825739)

Unfortunately a similar discussion was had before and the cable companies still ended up paying to carry broadcast television, which did of course further their "justification" for raising cable bills to such absurd levels. Which of course has been of dubious benefit to them and none to their customers.

Wonder if they have even considered that their underperformance and excessive pricing is a major contributable to the perception of opportunity for competition. like the telcos they seek government assistance in obstruction of all competition, including each other.

Re:Over the air (2)

necro81 (917438) | about 6 months ago | (#46825769)

Indeed - Aereo is delivering my eyeballs to broadcasters I couldn't access before. I live in an area where there are 4 channels available over the air, and only one of the major networks (without resorting to directional, amplified antennas). About 70 miles away is a major metro area with tens of channels available. I can sign up for Aereo and access those channels that just don't reach out here.

(I haven't, because I don't watch enough broadcast TV to justify even having Aereo. I don't have cable, either. So maybe I'm not the target demographic. It works in the hypothetical, though, which means it's totally good in a court of law!)

Oh god yes!! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825423)

Yes, please!! Please kill the cloud!!

Prediction (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825453)

SCOTUS will point out that putting an antenna in one place and sending the TV signal over a wire somewhere else is exactly how Community Antenna TeleVision (aka CATV, or better known as Cable TV) got its start, and the law Aereo is desperately trying to assert doesn't apply is specifically about piping broadcast signals somewhere else.

The court will find that the "just renting an antenna" argument doesn't fix the issue since the original TV services the laws were written against could have been claimed the same way: the users are just renting some share of the big antenna. Having lots of little antennas is technologically cool, but not really different.

It won't have an effect on any other cloud service, unless the cloud service tries to use antennas.

Aereo will lose, nothing will change.

Re:Prediction (4, Interesting)

ratboy666 (104074) | about 6 months ago | (#46826051)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colour me completely confused.

Sensational Summary is Sensational (1)

CajunArson (465943) | about 6 months ago | (#46825465)

Areo would like for all of us to buy into their fairy tale that their service == the entire cloud, but it was blatantly obvious from the oral arguments (that the submitter likely never listened to or would even comprehend if he had) that the justices were going out of their way to make sure that any ruling would not have an impact on services like Drop Box where the service itself has nothing to do with the content being "cloud" stored.

dangit (1)

lq_x_pl (822011) | about 6 months ago | (#46825495)

As logical as Aereo's argument is, I kind of wish they hadn't made it.
Next week:
Supreme Court Rules all Cloud Technology Illegal

Re:dangit (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 6 months ago | (#46825571)

At first I assumed Aereo's lawyers were just trying to fan the flames. No way would the ruling affect serving up documents out of the cloud.
That would be as bogus as arresting people for announcing software bugs after giving a company a few months to fix them.
Or like being able to copyright a one click checkout.
That would be absurd.

Real problem was law letting the networks charge (5, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 months ago | (#46825563)

Some idiot decided that it was reasonable for people that broadcast their programing over the air for free to then charge other people to retransmit it.

It was a bad law in the first place, poorly written, which let the networks charge money to cable people when their entire original business was charging advertisers and giving their stuff away for free.

Suddenly you let them charge others for their stuff that they agreed to give away for free originally and this caused the problems.

Aero are not doing anything wrong. The people doing wrong things are the over the air free TV networks that are charging.

The real truth is that the over the air for free model is OUTDATED - just like the buggy whips. I know of nobody actually using the radio waves. They only work in small areas and are only profitable if there is a large population. But in those areas you get so much more from cable TV.

In areas with less population, the over the air broadcasters are not profitable.

over the air gives the BEST quality (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 6 months ago | (#46825625)

There is nothing that matches the quality of over-the-air. In large cities there can be quite a few OTA channels and the picture is amazing.

Where I live, on the other hand, we have two channels. Amazing picture, poor selection.

Re:Real problem was law letting the networks charg (4, Informative)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 6 months ago | (#46825775)

First, the primary networks are required, by law, to provide OTA service. They were also required to transmit in digital vs the older, analog signal. Supposedly, the digital signals can transmit further and can support error correction (to eliminate ghost images).

As another poster noted, IF you are in range of to receive the OTA broadcast, the HD picture is of higher quality that what you would get via cable. Why? Cable network providers must compress the signal resulting in signal degradation. OTA can send the full, uncompressed digital signal. One of these days, I will have to see if I can receive the signal where I live...probably not.

Balancing two 'goods'... (1)

Rob Y. (110975) | about 6 months ago | (#46825595)

I suppose you could make Aereo's analogy to cloud storage if their business were primarily to allow you to upload content to them for streaming to your mobile devices wherever you are. That would make certain sense, and the privacy of the user to upload whatever they want should outweigh the rights of the networks to snoop on users to try to catch unauthorized uses of their copyrighted content.

But the service Aereo is selling is a 'cheap DVR in the cloud', which is a very different thing. I suppose the bit about streaming to your mobile devices adds some value, and if dropbox were to add that functionality, they'd probably pass muster. But Aereo's only source of content is broadcast signals - i.e. the broadcasters know without snooping that Aereo users are swiping their content. That ought to tilt the scales in the networks' favor.

Of course this Court isn't so good at striking a balance between two competing values. Given a choice between the Constitutional protection of (money as) speech and the democracy-unfriendly practice of influence buying, I'd have gone with the one that lines up better with the value of one person, one vote. But that's just me...

Don't understand Aereo's lawyer (5, Informative)

Chirs (87576) | about 6 months ago | (#46825607)

One of the justices asked flat-out if there were technical advantages to having multiple antennas or if it was just a way to get around copyright, and the lawyer dodged the question.

*Of course* the primary reason for having multiple antennas is copyright. It is exactly *because* they have multiple antennas that what they're doing is legal under current copyright law. By ducking and evading the question, the lawyer just looks shady.

From a technical point of view they'd be far better off with a pair of redundant antennas, storing all the shows from all the channels (with deduplication), and then serving them to their subscribers on demand. But that's clearly not allowed under current law.

Re:Don't understand Aereo's lawyer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825773)

As Aero's lawyer mentioned, they wouldn't be in court if Aero just rented the equipment (antenna and DVR) directly to the consumers. It's already legal to do this. In this case, the content is transferred from the DVR->some wires->Display. Aero is only adding the step of transmitting the content from DVR->the internet->consumer's home network->Display.

That's it in a nutshell.

Re:Don't understand Aereo's lawyer (1)

CanHasDlY (3618887) | about 6 months ago | (#46825807)

It's just a shame that many people who claim to be pro-free market are anything but that. It is thanks to nonsensical copyright laws that Aereo has to take such measures, and even then, it doesn't fully protect them from being attacked by silly lawsuits put forth by companies that toss freedom in the garbage in exchange for profits.

Split decision? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 6 months ago | (#46825651)

What if the Supremes approve for-profit cloud DVRs but disapprove antennas that are remote from tge customer's residenc? The cloud wins, Areo's business model taks a hit, and it's unlikel the cable companies will "go Areo."

Re:Split decision? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 months ago | (#46825935)

Well then that would just be a silly decision. What's the legal justification for such a ruling? Other than "we don't like what Aereo's doing but we don't want to destroy the up and coming cloud industry" there isn't one.

The "antenna array" is a McGuffin (1)

Thagg (9904) | about 6 months ago | (#46825655)

The antenna array is a beautiful piece of marketing by Aereo. Who could object to renting an antenna?

And, in fact, if the output of that antenna -- that is, the radio-frequency signal -- was transmitted to the home (as CableVision was doing back in the day) I think that Aereo would have an slam dunk. But that's not what they are doing.

They are converting the microwatt signal coming out of these antennas a few times. First, they are separating out just the channel that the user wants to watch, then they are digitizing that signal and encoding it onto the internet. That's what I don't think they are allowed to do, and that's why I believe they'll be shut down.

Re:The "antenna array" is a McGuffin (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825731)

Except this is what a dvr does, and it is legal.

Re:The "antenna array" is a McGuffin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825805)

No... the DVR that I am renting from Aereo is converting that signal to digital, FOR JUST ME. I then choose when to watch it later. This is no different than TIVO, or the Cable Co DVR doing the same thing for me.... except that is it done remotely. If I owned a slingbox, and my DVR recorded something... and I watch it from across the country ... it would be the same thing. Slingbox seems to have made this work legally, I don't see how Aereo's situation is any different.

The networks are double dipping, it is that simple. They should never have been allowed to charge for rebroadcasting over cable, they gave up that right by broadcasting over the air.

Re:The "antenna array" is a McGuffin (2)

Luciano Moretti (2887109) | about 6 months ago | (#46825973)

I have an non-rented version of Aereo right now in my house.

I own a TV Antenna in my attic, and a HDHomeRun box that sits in my wiring closet. The TV antenna goes to the HDHomeRun, which then converts the microwatt signal coming out of the antenna a few time, first separating out the channel i want to watch, then digitizing that signal, then streams it over TCP/IP to my HTPC, which then saves it to a HDD for later playback.

If I move it across town and access it via a VPN does it suddenly make it illegal?

The antenna array is exactly what makes it a 1-1, non-public performance of the data. The data I store on my DVR is a unique copy of the data vs the data stored on my neighbor's DVR with the exact same setup. Theoretically, because it's a digital signal once it's decoded the data may look exactly the same, but the data path was unique. If they used one antenna and only encoded each channel once, then they'd be in violation. That's what the Cable channels do now: 1-many performance, which is why they pay retransmission fees.

Re:The "antenna array" is a McGuffin (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 6 months ago | (#46826063)

Actually thier argument is it would be illegal to just take the output and transmit it because Congress outlawed what CableVision did in 1992. Digitizing the signal for a single channel is how they are different from CableVision.

Illegal to rent buggy whips! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825657)

No need to innovate when you can legisilate.

Captcha: victors

TURN OFF YOUR TV (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825699)

WHY DO YOU NEED TV? Isn't TV like Big Brother wall vision and every home like N.Korea should wait for their daily broadcast for national anthems and regular exercise (Winston).

What we need is a BOYCOTT on TV's to really get the message across, I simply refuse EVER to buy a NEW TV at all, not that I watch one, because the shops BY LAW, *MUST* REPORT IT for TAXATION (Europe), so I simply boycott buying TV's from stores NEW.

Question about rebroadcasting (4, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 6 months ago | (#46825707)

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

Missed Opportunity for Partnership, Dumb Models (3, Interesting)

Scot Seese (137975) | about 6 months ago | (#46825725)

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

Let's Judo-flip this conversation.

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

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

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

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

Consumers do not even understand "unlimited" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825733)

The system is fundamentally broken. What do you expect a bunch of morons who sign an agreement to limited usage on an unlimited advertised plan. There is so much fear in your consumers that even if you offer them their rights they will not accept it because of a legal agreement, that they have not read.

A case of fear vs fact (engineering).

Doesn't seem like the proper arguement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46825911)

It seems to me they should try and argue the merits of their case, not try scare tactics on the court by claiming they'll take down all cloud storage.

This seems like the equivalent of saying, "but everyone else is doing it!"

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