Broadcasters petition Supreme Court to hear case over iPad TV streamer Aereo

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
Broadcasters in the United States have made good on their threat against Aereo, which rebroadcasts television content to iPad and iPhone owners, by petitioning for their case to be settled by the nation's highest court.



On Friday, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Fox, ABC, Telemundo, NBC, PBS, and CBS had petitioned the Supreme Court to hear their ongoing case against Aereo, following failures to win injunctions against the service in the lower courts. The broadcasters allege unfair competition on the part of Aereo, as well as illegal appropriation of their content for Aereo's own purposes.

Aereo uses an array of micro-antennas to capture television broadcasts, which it then streams to iOS devices and PCs through a web portal. Aereo charges its subscribers $8 per month for access to the service. The broadcasters claim that this constitutes an infringement of their copyrights, as well as a violation of their performance rights.

The broadcasters' petition (embedded below) holds that Aereo's service is an illegal "public performance" of their protected content. Aereo claims that the thousands of antennas it assigns to each subscriber yield the same effect as if those subscribers had gone out and purchased an antenna for themselves.

Illustrative of the difficulties some content holders have had in adjusting to the decline of the standard distribution model, the case has resulted in wins and losses for both sides. For the most part, though, Aereo has been able to expand its offerings to new metropolitan areas with impunity. In April, a New York federal appeals court upheld a ruling that denied a prior motion by the broadcasters to shut Aereo down. Soon after, Aereo began expanding its service to even more locales. It is already available in New York, Miami, and Houston, and the company plans to be available in 20 more cities by the end of 2012.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 71
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,442member

    Here's hoping the broadcasters lose. I recently said b-bye to cable/satellite.

    I love free over-the-air HD broadcasts (without Aereo) but would like someday to view broadcasts in other markets besides where I live. Right now, Aereo only offers service to local areas from local broadcasters, but if the company survives the present battle, I would expect it to expand its business into wide-area distribution of program material.

  • Reply 2 of 71
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,327member
    What a bunch of cry babies.
  • Reply 3 of 71
    There should be no public television regulated by government. All spectrum should be auctioned off.
  • Reply 4 of 71
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

     

    Here's hoping the broadcasters lose. I recently said b-bye to cable/satellite.

    I love free over-the-air HD broadcasts (without Aereo) but would like someday to view broadcasts in other markets besides where I live.


    Me too. I cut the cable 5 years ago and really miss watching F1.

     

    But the cable companies charge way too much. Online viewing, Netflix, ATV...aren't quite there yet. I mainly rent DVD's from Redbox at a $1.00 ea.

     

    I live in the mountains and can't over the air reception. So I hope Aereo works out.

  • Reply 5 of 71
    davendaven Posts: 495member
    Aero isn't useful for me as I'm not in one of their target markets but I use a video capture system to save what I want to see on my network drive and can then watch it wherever I want to. That said, I've only recorded three movies because there really isn't much I want to watch.
  • Reply 6 of 71
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,442member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

     

    But the cable companies charge way too much. Online viewing, Netflix, ATV...aren't quite there yet. I mainly rent DVD's from Redbox at a $1.00 ea.


    Public libraries often have broad selections of DVDs to borrow for free, and many sporting events are available to view on-line for free.

     

    I might* have kept the cable/satellite if a service plan in the $30/month range had been offered, but I was assured no service level cheaper than about $50 per month was available... until after I had committed myself to dropping the service--at which point, I was offered $30/month.

     

    *$360 per year is still too much when all I really need/want is my local channels. (I was paying $1,000 per year.)

  • Reply 7 of 71
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

     

    Public libraries often have broad selections of DVDs to borrow for free, and many sporting events are available to view on-line for free.

     

    I might* have kept the cable/satellite if a service plan in the $30/month range had been offered, but I was assured no service level cheaper than about $50 per month was available... until after I had committed myself to dropping the service--at which point, I was offered $30/month.

     

    *$360 per year is still too much when all I really need/want is my local channels. (I was paying $1,000 per year.)


     

    Comcast offers a "Limited Basic" package for about $15. They don't advertise it and they don't want to give it to you, but my understanding is that they are required by law to offer it if you ask for it. I had it for years and it suited my needs just fine. About a year ago, however, they started encrypting even these channels requiring everyone to have one of their stupid boxes, rendering DVRs (especially computer-based, as very few of them provide cable card support) and built-in tuners (including multi-tuner PnP and built-in guide support) completely inert.

     

    Between ludicrous and needless policies such as this and rampant over-billing and dishonoring contracts, Comcast are nothing more than a bunch of rooster pricks who eat their young.

  • Reply 8 of 71
    The broadcasters have their business built on an early 1900s radio model that's nearly 100 years old. Tech has moved on, yet these bastions of mediocrity want the country to forego any movement into this new century. They will lose.

    "Some industries are born mediocre, some industries achieve mediocrity, and some broadcast industries have mediocrity thrust upon them. With this group of Luddites it had been all three"
  • Reply 9 of 71
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    daven wrote: »
    Aero isn't useful for me as I'm not in one of their target markets but I use a video capture system to save what I want to see on my network drive and can then watch it wherever I want to. That said, I've only recorded three movies because there really isn't much I want to watch.

    But there's a difference between you capturing something for your own use and someone capturing it for rebroadcast.

    I'm actually surprised that the broadcasters lost - there must be some loophole that Aereo uses. Ordinarily, you can not rebroadcast shows without violating the copyright. I'll have to read the details of the previous decisions to see why Aereo was able to get away with it.

    ETA:
    I reviewed the complaint and it's just what I expected. The law is quite clear that public rebroadcast of copyrighted work is not allowed. Aereo is claiming that they're not publicly rebroadcasting the copyrighted work, but are rather sending private broadcasts to tens of thousands of users. That claim appears to be patently ridiculous and it's not at all clear why the lower courts accepted it.

    I'd say there's a very good chance the Supreme Court will reverse the lower courts' decisions. The fundamental question is "is Aereo's business model a public rebroadcast or a private one?" If the court says that it's public, the broadcasters will win.
  • Reply 10 of 71
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,442member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djames4242 View Post

    Comcast offers a "Limited Basic" package for about $15. They don't advertise it and they don't want to give it to you, but my understanding is that they are required by law to offer it if you ask for it.


    Right, that's the case in California. Some governing of FCC regulations is done at the state level. In my state, regulators in the pocket of business determined adequate competition exists between cable and satellite providers, so the regulators declared there is no need to provide low-priced, basic service. The FCC allows this behavior. Consequently, the cable/satellite providers in my state are under no obligation to offer a low-priced plan with just the basic/local channels, even if you ask for it.

    (My state also declined Federal assistance to help with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.)

  • Reply 11 of 71
    The Supreme Court typically hears about 1% of all cases that are petitioned. I highly doubt they will even bother with this one.

    I dropped cable a year ago in favor of Netflix, AppleTV, and a $10 antenna and never looked back. I hope the television market makes a huge shift towards users being able to purchase just want they want to watch AND for programs - including sporting events - to be broadcasted over the internet without ridiculous restrictions and blackout rules.

    AT&T has been fighting this exact same thing in their wireless division for a while now... trying to recoup money lost to technology that is evolving while they sit idle. AT&T CEO: "If you're using iMessage, you're not using one of our messaging services, right? That's disruptive to our messaging revenue stream."

    Until these companies decide to stop fighting for what they USED to have and start creating the services and experiences that customers want, organizations such as Aereo will continue to flourish.
  • Reply 12 of 71
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

     

    Right, that's the case in California. Some governing of FCC regulations is done at the state level. In my state, regulators in the pocket of business determined adequate competition exists between cable and satellite providers, so the regulators declared there is no need to provide a low-priced, basic service. The FCC allows this behavior. In my state, the cable/satellite providers are under no obligation to offer a low-priced plan with just the basic/local channels, even if you ask for it.

    (My state also declined Federal assistance to help with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.)


     

    Too bad - I thought (and hoped) there was a federal regulation requiring this. Given the choice between paying a minimum of $70 (plus another $20 in taxes and regulated charges) and not watching TV, I'd choose not watching TV any day. There just isn't enough good content to justify that kind of ripoff. But for $15/month, at least I could watch local news and sports.

  • Reply 13 of 71
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,442member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BrianCPA View Post



    I hope the television market makes a huge shift towards users being able to purchase just want they want to watch AND for programs - including sporting events - to be broadcasted over the internet without ridiculous restrictions and blackout rules.

    Since we're in the major league baseball post-season, let's talk about those blackout rules. For a sizable fee, MLB allows customers to watch every game live on-line, except all of their home team's games--even when their home team is playing away. And except games that start on a Saturday afternoon.

    Lucky people living in Iowa have the Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals all in their "home" viewing area.

  • Reply 14 of 71
    allenbfallenbf Posts: 993member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    But there's a difference between you capturing something for your own use and someone capturing it for rebroadcast.



    I'm actually surprised that the broadcasters lost - there must be some loophole that Aereo uses. Ordinarily, you can not rebroadcast shows without violating the copyright. I'll have to read the details of the previous decisions to see why Aereo was able to get away with it.



    ETA:

    I reviewed the complaint and it's just what I expected. The law is quite clear that public rebroadcast of copyrighted work is not allowed. Aereo is claiming that they're not publicly rebroadcasting the copyrighted work, but are rather sending private broadcasts to tens of thousands of users. That claim appears to be patently ridiculous and it's not at all clear why the lower courts accepted it.



    I'd say there's a very good chance the Supreme Court will reverse the lower courts' decisions. The fundamental question is "is Aereo's business model a public rebroadcast or a private one?" If the court says that it's public, the broadcasters will win.

     

    You may want to read it a little more closely.  I've been following Aereo for well over a year and it isn't rebroadcasting, which is why the courts have ruled in their (Aereo's) favor.  It makes perfect sense if you think about it.  Aereo is essentially renting out antennas and storage (DVR) to individuals.  Each person has their own antenna, 2 actually.  Instead of having my antenna on my TV or roof, they house it for me and just feed me the signal.  Is it a loophole? Yeah, maybe, but a legal one.  Smart people disrupt by finding those loopholes.  It's not rocket science.

     

    Besides, the broadcasters have lost in one district, even on appeal.  The case out west is still in flux because it's going through appeals.  I have serious doubts the Supreme Court will even review this case.



     

  • Reply 15 of 71
    allenbfallenbf Posts: 993member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by BrianCPA View Post



    The Supreme Court typically hears about 1% of all cases that are petitioned. I highly doubt they will even bother with this one.



    I dropped cable a year ago in favor of Netflix, AppleTV, and a $10 antenna and never looked back. I hope the television market makes a huge shift towards users being able to purchase just want they want to watch AND for programs - including sporting events - to be broadcasted over the internet without ridiculous restrictions and blackout rules.



    AT&T has been fighting this exact same thing in their wireless division for a while now... trying to recoup money lost to technology that is evolving while they sit idle. AT&T CEO: "If you're using iMessage, you're not using one of our messaging services, right? That's disruptive to our messaging revenue stream."



    Until these companies decide to stop fighting for what they USED to have and start creating the services and experiences that customers want, organizations such as Aereo will continue to flourish.

     

    Agree, doubt they'll review the case at all.

     

    Personally, Aereo is slated to arrive in my area this fall.  Nearly everything my wife and I watch are broadcast channels, I'll be supplementing Aereo with Netflix, iTunes and maybe Hulu Plus.  Direct TV can go to...



     

  • Reply 16 of 71
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,442member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djames4242 View Post

     

    Too bad - I thought (and hoped) there was a federal regulation requiring this.


    Right, the FCC regulation requires an affordable basic service plan--unless a state deems a sufficiently competitive environment exists.

  • Reply 17 of 71
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,973member
    cpsro wrote: »
    Here's hoping the broadcasters lose. I recently said b-bye to cable/satellite.
    I love free over-the-air HD broadcasts (without Aereo) but would like someday to view broadcasts in other markets besides where I live. Right now, Aereo only offers service to local areas from local broadcasters, but if the company survives the present battle, I would expect it to expand its business into wide-area distribution of program material.

    I don't believe that they would ever do that. Their saving grace right now is that they're transmitting what people can see for free, if they start transmitting cross regions/markets it could lead to the broadcasters getting a win.
  • Reply 18 of 71
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,973member
    djames4242 wrote: »
    Too bad - I thought (and hoped) there was a federal regulation requiring this. Given the choice between paying a minimum of $70 (plus another $20 in taxes and regulated charges) and not watching TV, I'd choose not watching TV any day. There just isn't enough good content to justify that kind of ripoff. But for $15/month, at least I could watch local news and sports.

    I beg to differ, the quantity of quality content has increased dramatically in the last 5 years.
  • Reply 19 of 71
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,442member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post



    I don't believe that they would ever do that. Their saving grace right now is that they're transmitting what people can see for free, if they start transmitting cross regions/markets it could lead to the broadcasters getting a win.

    If Aereo survives the present challenge, it makes complete sense to expand. The program content they currently send over the Internet quite conceivably arrives at its destination by transiently leaving the local viewing area. One antenna per customer still applies. By taking baby steps through the legal system, the company establishes legal precedents and builds a revenue stream to fund expansion and defend itself.

  • Reply 20 of 71
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,442member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    I beg to differ, the quantity of quality content has increased dramatically in the last 5 years.

    Duck Dynasty FTW!!!!!!!!!

     

    (ack, choke, puke)

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