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back to article Aereo presses pause on 'tiny antenna' TV-streaming service

TV-streaming biz Aereo suspended its services over the weekend, after the Supreme Court ruled last week that its operations breached US broadcasters’ copyrights, but the firm has vowed to fight on. In a letter to users on its website, Aereo chief and founder Chet Kanojia said that the firm was just “pausing services temporarily …

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Anonymous Coward

On the one hand, he is taking someone else's transmission and making money off of it but on the other, big businesses are led by bastards and I would have liked to have seen them get a bloody nose.

Never mind, I'm not surprised and I suppose the decision is the right one :(

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Re: I suppose the decision is the right one

Perhaps on the basis of the facts presented. The justices were correct that there is little effective distinction between cable companies and Aereo. They are also correct that broadcaster owns the rights to the material and has not granted a license for the rebroadcast from which Aereo makes their money. The recasting of legislation to require cable companies to pay broadcasters is at the heart of the issue. But given that broadcasters are using a public commodity licensed to them by the federal government, I'm quite sure the legislative rewrite was a bad one. And I suspect there ought to be some way to get it overturned vis a vie consumer interests.

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Since 1996 when the DMCA became law, it has held up both the spread of technology and the free flow of information. It is a cure worse than the disease. But in a country where money is free speech, we're stuck with it.

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Always thought that their 'dime sized antennae' based excuse sounded a little hollow. I'm all for disruptive technologies, but this always sounded to me like they had stepped over the line

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It wasn't so much 'disruptive technology' as 'disruptive legalese'. And on that latter count, it failed.

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what happened to "we have no Plan B"?

A couple months ago, in several videotaped interviews, Kanojia clearly stated that if the Supreme Court decision didn't go their way, they were essentially dead. "We have no 'Plan B'" is what he said. The only "next move" I can immediately think of is to become something of a cross between Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime's video service - but that would basically be a "me, too" operation so why bother?

I was rooting for Aereo (assuming that they weren't adding any content, just DVRing and retransmitting unaltered feeds) because the service was innovative. It forced broadcasters and content providers to keep on their toes to get/retain viewers and/or subscribers. For example, my cable provider recently began offering a Hulu-like service for their subscribers. I have been told that the Aereo situation has gotten them moving to add live TV to the streaming options. That's the real difference between Aereo and all the other streaming content providers - live events and "simulcast" of scheduled programming. Even though the decision went against Aereo, there is still a chance that consumers will benefit - albeit somewhat less so than if Aereo had won.

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Ridiculous

I don't see where any harm is coming from, in fact the original broadcasters are getting more money. The video stream isn't being modified in any way other than being compressed into a packet stream, so the advertisements remain but are now being seen by additional eyeballs (And without the transmitter needing to pay for more towers or electricity to bathe us in their signal).

The only harm could come from the cable losing out on people that would have bought cable service for just the local (And freely available) channels. In my mind, this is akin to a TelCo suing Skype for damages.

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Re: Ridiculous

The perceived loss is from the fees the channels might have got from the cable companies Aereo's customers might have been subscribed to. Personally I think FTA broadcasters charging fees to cable companies or anyone else for that matter is a bit like having your cake and eating it, considering the ad revenue they already get from their broadcasts. This whole scenario is indicative of the mess that is broadcasting/cable/Satellite/ISP, (in fact anything to do with consumer tech, the judiciary are about 20 years behind in their understanding of it), in the US, a cold hard look at charges and practices is required, perhaps an independent body like the FCC but with clear teeth and legal jurisdiction without those lawyer beloved grey areas that seem so widespread in the US.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Ridiculous

It's more about the future loss and risk from basic terms being re-defined in a whacky way - which is what a ruling favourable to Aereo would have meant. It's up to Congress to define those terms.

The Supremes decided Aereo was really a cable company - but cable companies have extremely cushy terms, they can use a compulsory license and pay a set rate far below market value for their content. No one denies Aereo has value - and that their technology could be useful to consumers and the industry if they licensed it. Much like picocells are useful to operators.

This story simply demonstrates what we already know - that the whole case was designed around fighting and winning court battle.

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Re: Ridiculous

The problem is that the so-called broadcast networks got greedy and decided that they wanted more money than they get from advertising revenue. Therefore, they started charging cable and satellite operators per-subscriber carriage fees. Each time the contracts come up for renewal the broadcasters put up their fees significantly and there's a pissing match that results in the channels being blacked out for several days until a compromise is met. It is these rip-off fees that the broadcasters are unhappy with Aereo not paying.

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Anonymous Coward

They're not dead...

They're "resting".

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Pint

It's in the details.

"Aereo sells a service that allows subscribers to watch television programmes, many of which are copyrighted, virtually as they are being broadcast."

I don't think they understand the meaning of broadcast. If I have an antenna and a small digital video capture device for private viewing, that's okay. I put it over at my mate's place because it gets better reception, that's okay. I pay a company to put it in a warehouse, that's not okay?

When 'they' send out the signal, that is broadcast it, and someone happens to receive it and store it for later viewing they should have no say over when or on what equipment is used. Aereo was not rebroadcasting any copyrighted material, they're delivering it to a single subscriber. One antenna, one DVR, one viewer.

Am I mistaken in that thinking? The court seems either ignorant of technology or unduly influenced by big * (media/pharma/business).

It's only Monday and I'm ready for a pint.

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Re: It's in the details.

"One antenna, one DVR, one viewer."

I suspect that is the problem there. One antenna, one DVR, many viewers seems more likely. Unless they were really recording and storing potentially 1000's of copies of the same show, one for each subscriber who marked it for recording. I suppose in theory there could have been 1000's of simultaneous recordings of the same show at the same time being fed into a clever de-duping file system such that it was logically 1000's of separate files while being physically only one or a few on disk.

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Re: Aereo was not rebroadcasting

Because Aereo was streaming it over the internet under US law they were rebroadcasting. Their lawyers should have known that and prepared a different approach.

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At first glance, it does seem bizarre - free-to-air channels actually pay money to broadcast their signals to people - but then they try to charge third parties extra for doing that for free? The law seems against them though: if US cable companies have to pay a fee to do this, there's really no reason Aereo shouldn't. ('Lots of tiny virtualised aerials carrying the same signal down the same pipe' versus 'single shared aerial' is something I'd expect any judge to chuck out as hair-splitting, as it seems SCOTUS did here.) The fact they were actually converting and processing the signals, not just relaying them, can't have helped their case either.

It's a shame: I'd rather like to see a service like that flourish - but right now, the law doesn't allow it without paying extra.

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"It's a shame: I'd rather like to see a service like that flourish - but right now, the law doesn't allow it without paying extra."

Not quite, it's the *networks* that aren't allowing it, and they're just using the law to get their way. If this were purely about the little bit of money they were arguing about, it would be working today - albeit at an additional cost.

But it's not. It's about advertising that is not being paid for for regions it wasn't destined for, it's about advertising that's being shown in regions it's not applicable to (wasted ad space), it's about much more money than that.

But the law is not on your side on that matter, well, it's not so cut and dried, they just used whatever applicable law they could get away with to squash Aereo - what they wanted to do in the first place.

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