back to article Bring it on, stream biz Aereo tells TV barons – see you in Supreme Court

Cloud-based TV streaming and DVR startup Aereo has said it won’t oppose a move by the four biggest US television broadcasters to take it to America's Supreme Court – and said it is looking forward to fighting their allegations of copyright infringement. “We have decided to not oppose the broadcasters’ petition for certiorari …

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retransmission fee.

Since it's not being used they way they said it would be used, they should just scrap the retransmission fee.

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Morons.

I can't see why they're fighting Aereo. Aereo has increased their consumer base increasing the spread of their advertising.

If someone increased my market and it didn't cost me a cent, I'd say go for it.

But noooooo. They want Aereo to pay them to help them. Just like the newspapers suing Google for sending them traffic.

Some people just need bitchslapping until they grow up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Morons.

To gain monetization of the broadcasters' adverts they would need to provide stats to the broadcasters on who watched what, at what time and so on.

This is the only way the broadcasters can bill the advertisers for the extra viewing on these adverts as without it how can they prove who watches what as most likely they get paid on a CPM rate.

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Devil

So if I make a simple mistake they can take away my driving license for an arbitrary amount of time, yes? Well then how about a rule that asshat litigators like these that know full well they're in the wrong but do it anyway hoping "maybe we'll get lucky regardless" get barred from _ANY_ legal action for a loooooooooong time...? That would be fun to watch for sure*...

*I'm aware there might be... difficulties in establishing an objective criteria on when is someone officially a legal asshat. One can dream though, right...?

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Pint

"...a tiny TV antenna each in a nearby data centre..."

"...a tiny TV antenna each in a nearby data centre..."

In principle, this would be difficult. Antennas like to be appropriately sized, and up in the air where they can receive clear signals. As opposed to racked-and-stacked in a (basement?) data center surrounded by "thousands of other antennas", metal racks, and noise-emitting data center equipment. Even robust digital signals would be tortured to death by such an approach. There are techniques they could employ to overcome these inherent technical challenges.

In practice, having reviewed the images available on-line, it stinks to high-heaven as being a technical fraud. They appear to have done none of the techniques that they'd need to do to overcome the above-listed technical impacts of their concept, and they appear to have an implementation details that would make those impacts worse.

For these reasons, I'm quietly confident that the racks-and-stacks of paperclip "antennas" soldered to those square-meter circuit cards, housed in basement data centers, are not actually connected to anything.

The whole thing smells like A TECHNICAL FICTION to provide legal cover. But perhaps I'm wrong.

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Re: "...a tiny TV antenna each in a nearby data centre..."

IINM, though, the transition to DTV reduces the need for aerials. It's not like you need a very strong signal to get a very good picture. All the data is now focused on a pretty tight frequency range and is digital, meaning a different kind of antenna can do the job (which is why you don't see rabbit ears in stores anymore--only those flat antenna plates).

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Re: "...a tiny TV antenna each in a nearby data centre..."

quote: "For these reasons, I'm quietly confident that the racks-and-stacks of paperclip "antennas" soldered to those square-meter circuit cards, housed in basement data centers, are not actually connected to anything.

The whole thing smells like A TECHNICAL FICTION to provide legal cover. But perhaps I'm wrong."

And yet Aereo have apparently been through court at least 3 times already on effectively the same charges, and have not yet been found guilty of infringement of any copyright. Either all 3 courts have failed in any due diligence, or there is not enough evidence to prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that Aereo are not providing the service that they allege to.

This would appear to be a case of "retransmission fee avoidance" (perfectly legal) as opposed to "retransmission fee evasion" (illegal), since they have been found to be acting within the law 3 times already. Providing a tiny antenna for each customer to their rented PVR, would appear to be the "double Irish with a Dutch sandwich" type legal swerve available to providers of catch-up / on-demand services for broadcast television.

Yes, I think I did just liken Aereo's aerials to Starbucks transfer pricing... o.O

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Headmaster

Re: "...a tiny TV antenna each in a nearby data centre..."

At least in the States, all DTV is broadcast in the UHF band with some stations in the upper VHF band. VHF is split between VHF high and VHF low, with the FM radio band in the middle. "Rabbit ears" are VHF only - that's why you don't see them any more. UHF is a shorter wavelength, so antenna elements are smaller.

I believe Aereo places their antenna farm/data center very close to the transmitting antennas. In the Boston, MA market, where I'm located, this is very easy because all of the major broadcasters have their antennas on one hill in Needham, MA.

Now returning to your regularly scheduled program (programme for those over the Great Pond).

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Re: "...a tiny TV antenna each in a nearby data centre..."

"It's not like you need a very strong signal to get a very good picture."

I assume you are watching your DTV via a Cable-ish system. Even they have the usual (for DTV) problems of out-of-sync audio and "witness protection" video from time to time.

Over the air it is much worse unless you are a few miles and line-of sight. The DTV standard includes forward error correction, but apparently the level of such is an option, and by reducing the number of bits allocated to error correction, one can increase the number of channels to run infomercials, so...

A more cynical person might wonder if broadcasters are deliberately making it difficult to receive OTA TV, to force customers to go through the Cable companies, thus increasing the broadcaster's revenue. But of course, an entity whose license is predicated on serving a public benefit would never do that.

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JLV
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Trollface

Re: "...a tiny TV antenna each in a nearby data centre..."

>perhaps I'm wrong.

Noooooooo. How could you be wrong? You are an informed Reg reader after all and we are always qualified to comment on matters electronic or legal, are we not?

I don't disagree with your assessment at a surface techy level. But think about it, this is probably the first thing the plaintiffs checked, in order to get Aero booted on a technicality. I.e. folks in our profession are paid to be clever, but people outside of it are not all dumb either.

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Re: "...a tiny TV antenna each in a nearby data centre..."

Each customer does not have their own antenna. Each one has an element which works as part of a much larger antenna, so it's basically an antenna array. There are several arrays in each market. And the antenna elements are dynamically allocated based on which TV station you want to tune and how well it as able to receive that signal. That implies there are sacrificial elements which nobody uses, but they help the other elements tune into the station. Their own patents, which I've read, admit to this. But since judges aren't electrical engineers as I am, and it is a fine but important distinction, and it's not even clear that customers need to have separate antennas, and the expert witness for the cable companies has had problems, we still don't really know how SCOTUS will rule.

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Pint

Re: "...a tiny TV antenna each in a nearby data centre..."

@Bob Camp , thanks finally I understand (kind of) what is going on here

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Anonymous Coward

The trouble is all the time that idiot Alki David and FilmOn are causing trouble it has a direct affect on Aereo - I fear that Barry Diller is ruling the day he ever got involved with David.

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FAIL

ads and such

I must say if this was in my city I would be tempted... but then again I only watch pre-chewed-by-myth stuff.

I live only a mile from the massive antenna but geography makes the signal hard to receive...

There are so many conflicting interests in this domain (pipes owning media companies? come on!), any newcomers that upset the balance attract legal flack.

P.

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founding fathers

Rich aholes in my country love to manipulate the public by trying to tell them what our founding fathers would say about some vested interest they have. I would love to see them try to tell us how the founding fathers would want us to make lots of laws to prop up broken and obsolete business models like our current system is doing today. I am also pretty sure they would slap every current member of the SCOTUS for ignoring the fourth amendment but I digress.

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Anonymous Coward

I have it.

And it's OK, with some exceptions. There's a limit of five devices you can register to receive the programming, and each web browser (even on the same computer) counts as a device, so on my home machine I was trying it on IE and in Firefox and that burned up two "licenses".

Quality is hit and miss - sometimes it's great, other times tons of pixelation and out-of-sync audio.

The biggest downside, and one they don't talk about: It's only available in your home town. I was traveling a couple of weeks ago and stuck at the airport waiting to get home. Fired up Aereo on my Nexus tablet and it wouldn't let me connect. Said I had to be in my "home region" to use the service. Guess they live by the sword (it's no different than having your own antenna) and die by the sword (my antenna doesn't work 500 miles away).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I have it.

Sounds like someone should write a personal data forwarding application (PDFA?) that will allow my laptop (sitting at home, on the kitchen table) to retransmit my personal, legal entertainment data to whatever device I am carrying, where ever I happen to be.

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Re: I have it.

You mean, like a Slingbox?

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Stream Your Own TV

If you don't have access to a service like this and can afford to get yourself a $200 laptop or PC you could build youself something similar. Most blu-ray players and consoles (except the PS4 apparently) can browse and play saved video files stored on a media server. Together with a cheap(ish) TV capture card and a digital antenna I record the shows I watch and store everything on an external HD.

My system cost me $500, including a 2TB external HD, antenna and TV capture card w/ software. I use Serviio (free) to stream data from the HD to my PS3 and blu-ray players. I admit that the $12/month is very tempting, but there's no Aereo-like service where I live.

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Re: Stream Your Own TV

To do that, you need a device with DLNA capability. And believe me, I check the specs carefully on those things. Trouble is, many of them have (a) spotty codec support, (b) lousy UIs, or (c) both. The closest thing I've found to a repurposed PC is the WD TV Live, but its video quality leaves plenty to be desired. And no, the Raspberry solution tends to be laggy at high resolutions.

Many "network-enabled" players don't really support DLNA but rather support the "usual suspects" like Pandora and YouTube.

Plus your TV capture cars only supports OTA programming. My programming tends to come through digital cable, requiring a box, so it's more complicated.

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Tail wags dog, broadcasters forget the reason the Cable TV industry was created.

Here across the pond the tail wags the dog. The Broadcast TV industry forgets that the reason cable television technology was developed. It was developed to bring TV signals to cities where there was no signal due to distance or terrain. This problem was exaggerated when most broadcasters moved to the UHF Band. When lawmakers authorized a retransmission fee their objective was different than how broadcasters are using the proceeds from the fee now.

See this Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retransmission_fee

In reality the broadcasters should be paying the cable companies for distributing their signal thereby giving them a larger audience. The only chance for a change is if the cable television industry payola to federal lawmakers exceeds the broadcast industry payola to federal lawmakers.

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Re: Tail wags dog, broadcasters forget the reason the Cable TV industry was created.

"It was developed to bring TV signals to cities where there was no signal due to distance or terrain."

And it took off mostly in the USA thanks to NTSC making people a nice violent shade of green if there was any signal multipathing (Ghosting).

The rest of the world waited a few years, tweaked NTSC into NTSC-PAL and didn't suffer the same issue (the inverted colours cancel each other out every other line)

Of course the Queen plays it safe and mostly wears orange when she's stateside - the only colour guaranteed not to be molested by phase shifting.

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