back to article Streaming TV Aereo's enemies lob sueball into Supreme Court

The four top US television-broadcast corporations – ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox – have taken their battle against fiesty one-antenna-per-customer cloudy DVR and streaming service Aereo to the US Supreme Court. The four, Reuters reports, argue that allowing Aereo to continue snatching broadcast TV out of the air, storing it in a …

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Silver badge

There is now a UK company that seems to be doing something similar, you effectively buy your own Freeview STB and put it in their datacentre, from where they stream you the output. See http://www.hostmyuktv.com/ I suppose they assume that they're getting round the copyright rules the same way Aereo is, each user is individually receiving the TV and simply doing a remote display.

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This could get interesting

I noticed the statement at the bottom of the page stating that a valid UK TV licence is required to watch this service. I wonder if the UK TV Licensing 'enforcers' will demand customer's IP addresses to track them down and take action against them if they are not recorded as having a valid licence.

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Silver badge

Re: This could get interesting

Too much trouble. The UK TV Licensing 'enforcers' just assume *everyone* is watching TV and thus must have a licences, unless they can show otherwise...

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Re: This could get interesting

They assume. They can't do much else but assume and pester you with threatening-sounding letters that amount to nothing much if you read the fine print. They have no legal right of entry (even the police have no legal right of entry without either permission or a warrant) and they have no ability to procure a warrant, and have to ask the police to do it for them.

The detector vans and all that gubbins are empty propaganda, merely designed to remind people that the TVLA exists. Just ignore their letters and tell the "inspectors" to take a walk. If they can't see a television displaying live broadcasts from the public highway, there's nothing they can do.

Not that I'm saying you should try and evade the license by hiding your TV in a back room where it's not visible to passers-by...

I only ever watch DVDs on mine.

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Big Brother

Re: "they have no ability to procure a warrant"

That's what I assumed, until someone, more knowledgeable on the subject than I, pointed out that the magistrate awards the warrant directly to the TVL, not to the police, who are only present (at the TVL's request) to prevent a "disturbance of the peace" (i.e. to stop you smashing the goon's face in).

Shockingly, this means the private citizens who work for Capita (the private company that operates as the "TVL") can in principle be awarded warrants to force entry to your home, and search and seize property (i.e. police powers), which may be the most startling example of corporatocracy and anarcho-capitalism I'm aware of in the UK.

Although apparently that sort of corporate vigilantism is very common in the US (the land of the "free", as in "free" to be gangsters).

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Re: "they have no ability to procure a warrant"

The ability for private companies to gain warrants isn't particularly uncommon. Civil Bailiffs have had the ability in order to recover bad debt for hundreds of years - in fact if they can find an unlocked door or ground floor window they are allowed to make peaceful entry. Similarly electricity companies can gain warrants in order to gain entry to change an electricity meter.

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GA

We do have Free view in the UK it's a STB allowing no pay per view users access to free to air shows as we have given up analogue and gone digital. You still need a TV licence which covers Radio as well, you cannot view any scrambled channels unless you want to pay a bit extra. It's allowed over her to ensure we don't all have the pay the cable and satellite companies. Or government actively promotes this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "they have no ability to procure a warrant"

Ah, Richard Stilgoe. "Statutory Right of Entry to your home". Go google it.

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Childcatcher

Re: "they have no ability to procure a warrant"

"if they can find an unlocked door or ground floor window they are allowed to make peaceful entry"

However, they cannot force entry.

The TVL can.

That minor distinction means Capita employees are the only private citizens in the UK with police powers.

Even worse, at least debt collectors are pursuing a genuine, established debt for tangible goods. The TVL, on the other hand, is merely engaging in a fishing expedition to determine if you owe them money, in many cases without even knowing the name of the occupier, and in the total absence of any documentation that shows the occupier even requested any goods or services from the TVL in the first place, much less received them then failed to pay for them.

The TVL is literally a racketeering operation.

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The broadcasters went to the Supreme Court because they lost twice in the lower federal courts. But this doesn't mean the Court will agree to hear their case -- and it shouldn't.

Aereo has a limited market share; it makes no sense now to stifle a technology before it takes hold. Besides, Aereo offers some relief against monopolies we had to deal with for years.

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It will likely be granted certiorari

The broadcasters won in one district out west (guess what locale it includes) Because of that disagreement, it seems likely the court will hear it.

Depending on who wins and how broad the ruling is, they could with one stroke make cloud DVR services illegal, and possibly even place-shifting like Slingboxes and smartphone apps that amount to the same thing. So it will be very closely watched and there will likely be a lot of amicus curiae briefs submitted from many interested players on both sides.

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unfortunately, as far as the existing corporates are concerned, it makes perfect sense to smother disruptive technolgies at birth before they can disrupt your existing very profitable business model which consists of ripping the customer off as much as they can stand...

Imagine if buggy whip manufacturers had managed to get internal combustion engines outlawed...

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The Broadcasters next move will be...

To buy this company and sink it without trace at the bottom of Lake Mead/Marianas Trench

Their friends in the Oil Industry are expert at this modus operandii.

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Re: The Broadcasters next move will be...

the broadcasters don't have money for that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Broadcasters next move will be...

While I in no way believe my industry to be pure as untouched snow, could the commentariat name (and provide a link etc to) a few examples of revolutionary tech like this being maliciously stifled by the oil industry?

Your,

Oil Industry-employed Goon

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Unhappy

Re: The Broadcasters next move will be...

Google "automotive NiMH encumbrance".

Oh, yes. That's why we will have to drive around with incendiary devices in our electric cars.

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I can't see how they can win.

There have been many portable tv's down to phone size, most tv companies also have apps and online streaming. Add to that the allowance for personal use DVR going back to the start of video players and there must be enough prior use to cover this.

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Headmaster

What competition?!?

How can anyone call Aereo competition for the broadcasters?

If Firestone makes such wonderful tires that nobody buys Goodyear tires anymore, that's being beat by the competition, but there's no way Aereo's success, no matter how splendid, puts the broadcasters out of business, because without broadcasts Aereo has no business.

(I keep hoping broadcasters will figure out that without viewers they don't have a business either, and quit trying to jerk us around every chance they get, but I ain't holding my breath)

If you put up your own antenna to pick up broadcasts, they don't get paid anything except what they sell ads for, and if Aereo acts as your antenna they get the same amount of money, none, and the same number of viewers, whoever's in front of your TV, and anyone who wants Aereo so they can fast forward through commercials or otherwise timeshift would, if forced to use their own antenna instead, have that antenna feeding a DVR anyway, so all we're talking about here is how far away from the TV the DVR is.

The part the broadcasters are doing their best not to mention is that they get to send their signal over airwaves owned by the public, which means they can't charge the guy with the antenna in or on his house anything, but if same said guy subcontracts to a cable TV company to serve as his antenna, they can charge the cable company money to "re-transmit" their signal (and of course the cable company passes those costs on to the subscriber just like they do for the per subscriber costs for the non-broadcast channels, like CNN).

It's only because the cable company is using only one antenna to feed my house and the house next door and the one across the street, etc., that they can get away with calling it re-transmission instead of amplified reception.

Aereo figured out how to provide not just antenna service, the way the cable company does, but "individualized" antenna service, so the broadcasters don't get any more money than if Aereo's customers all used their own in/on home antennas.

If they were getting retransmission money out of Aereo customers the way they do out of cable customers, they'd think Aereo was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I think they call that rent-seeking.

And, of course, hypocrisy.

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The other El Reg article...

...has this right near the end:

"But of course, this being the litigious US, don't expect broadcasters and TV stations to roll over and simply accept this new form of competition. "

So how did my comment (on the subject of competition) in reply to that article wind up attached to this one?

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Silver badge

Re: The other El Reg article...

unitron "So how did my comment (on the subject of competition) in reply to that article wind up attached to this one?"

perhaps it was too good to miss - I didn't read the first article so i'm glad it was moved/copied.

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Silver badge

Re: What competition?!?

They are not competing with the broadcasters, they are competing with the cable companies.

The reason the broadcasters are upset is.

A- They don't get the kickback that they get from Cable companies (revenue to strengthen their local news programming - ha ha).

B- Being owned by maga corps they don't have the option of trying to force them to also take their bundle of crap pay TV stuff (see Time Warner vs CBS).

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Pirate

Re: What competition?!?

It's ALL about rent-seeking these days. ESPECIALLY when it comes to media.

Like I said. We know who the REAL pirates are. -------------->

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FAIL

The elephant in the room

that no one talks about are the fees the cable companies pay to replace the advertising for additional revenue. The broadcasters would prefer to force viewers onto cable where they can collect their cut of the dosh. Unfortunately for the broadcasters, Aereo makes NO attempt to line their pockets with substituted adds by leaving the recorded broadcast AS-IS, giving the broadcasters one less leg to stand on for their arguments before the court.

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Anonymous Coward

Aereo's wee little "antennas"

I believe that their wee little "antennas" are pure fiction. I think that they're not actually antennas in the technical sense, but are just theatre props used to support a legal loophole. I doubt that they're connected to anything. At the back of the room is perhaps a single RG-6 coaxial cable from *the* actual antenna on the roof, going into a small bank of splitters and TV tuners. The rest is just software.

Reality may vary. But my opinion says they're fake.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aereo's wee little "antennas"

"they're not actually antennas in the technical sense, but are just theatre props used to support a legal loophole"

Uh oh. Now you've given the game away.

Should be fairly easy to verify anyway, borrow a bit of tin foil from someone's hat, wrap it round the "aerial", and see if anything changes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aereo's wee little "antennas"

One installation of this "antenna" "technology" was apparently within a server room, full of RF-noisy computer hardware, in a basement.

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Supreme Court shift

The US Supreme Court has shown a tendency to take an increased heed of the needs of the new media landscape at the cost of more traditional interests, so from that perspective it is a rational thing for Aero's enemies to try to get this case heard now rather than later. Though with even rightwing justices such as Alito joining up with the copyright reformists in the Wiley case (the one about global parallel import rights), this may already be too late.

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Rediculous

I've been recording over the air programs for a while now and this service only offers a streamlined way of doing it. I think it's absolutely worth the $8.00 a month that Aereo charges to store your data. It's basically a cloud-storage service that is specifically tailored to video.

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