Appeals court denies broadcasters' motion to shut down Aereo TV streaming service

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A New York federal appeals court on Monday upheld a prior ruling in favor of broadcast television streaming service Aereo, disappointing broadcasters, who say that company's operations constitute illegal retransmission of owned content.

A district court judge last year blocked an attempt by CBS, Comcast, News Corporation, and Disney, to stop Aereo from retransmitting their broadcasts to subscribers in New York, the only state in which Aereo is currently available. Those subscribers pay about $8 per month to Aereo, which set up an array of antennas that receive over-the-air television broadcasts before routing the signal through the Internet to a subscriber's phone, computer, or tablet.

The broadcasters contend that Aereo's operations are "public performances" of their protected content, and that the service is thus in violation of retransmission rules governing their broadcasts. With other operators like Time Warner already paying for retransmission rights, the broadcasters looked to win a preliminary injunction against Aereo in a bid to stem possible lost revenue.

aereo


On Monday, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the lower court's prior ruling in a 2-to-1 decision. The majority opinion found that the broadcasters were "not likely to prevail on the merits."

The New York Times reports that one judge out of three dissented, claiming that the antenna array Aereo uses to capture content before retransmission is a "Rube Goldberg-like contrivance, overengineered in an attempt to avoid the reach of the Copyright Act and to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the law." That judge, Denny Chin, said that the streams were in fact "public performances" and thus in violation of copyright.

Representatives for the broadcasters expressed their disappointment at the verdict. "Today's decision is a loss for the entire creative community," they said in a statement. "The court has ruled that it is O.K. to steal copyrighted material and retransmit it without compensation."

The representatives went on to say that they are considering their options to protect their programming.

With the positive ruling, Aereo now plans to expand its operations to 22 more cities this year. "We always thought our Aereo platform was permissible and I'm glad the court has denied the injunction. Now we'll build out the rest of the U.S.," said media mogul Barry Diller, a major backer of Aereo.

The case is unlikely to end with Monday's decision, however, as the Federal District Court in Los Angeles ruled against an Aereo-like service called Aereokiller in December.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    Representatives for the broadcasters expressed their disappointment at the verdict. "Today's decision is a loss for the entire creative community," they said in a statement. "The court has ruled that it is O.K. to steal copyrighted material and retransmit it without compensation."


     


    Obviously not, you dolts; that would be illegal. You're changing the story somewhere.


     


    Aereo's setup sounds sort of like a "startup telecom". Or an "indie telecom", whatever you want to call it. They're doing exactly what the existing telecoms are doing, except over the Internet (with a bunch of truly unnecessary converting in the middle). And are the old fashioned guys just whining that they're being beaten at their own game? 

  • Reply 2 of 26
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    I've been following Aero's story for a while. Great win for them. Hope it keeps up and they expand to cities nationwide. The beauty of this program that nothing else can provide- are local channels and you can cut the cord. Don't discount the NFL as the monstrous powerhouse it is. With Aero- you don't need cable or even a tuner (or antenna)- just an app on the Apple TV 6. Can't wait. :)
  • Reply 3 of 26
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    A New York federal appeals court on Monday upheld a prior ruling in favor of broadcast television streaming service Aereo, disappointing broadcasters, who say that company's operations constitute illegal retransmission of owned content.

    I'm sure there's more to the story - and the discussion about the type of antenna seems to support that.

    On the surface, it should have been an easy decision. If you have a neighborhood pool party and show a copyrighted movie, it can be considered an illegal public performance. I'm not sure why this is any more acceptable. It would be interesting to read the entire decision to see where they draw the line.
  • Reply 4 of 26
    dunksdunks Posts: 1,249member
    I spoke with someone who set up a similar service in Australia but shut it down because .

    If you have to request the recording be made BEFORE it is transmitted how exactly does this system differ from a PVR (which we already know is legal)? Sure the equipment is in the cloud, rented and the content only accessible by an internet connection but this is no different from renting the equipment and rigging a similar set-up yourself. Aereo's fee is for providing simplicity.

    The problem content producers have to face is that the "Broadcasting" model compares poorly to "on demand" services. The Aereo business model is only successful because theare too stubborn to accept their historical profits were obtained through strong-arming a captive audience and are unsustainable.

    The industry can't reasonably expect to be able to region code content AND limit broadcasts to particular dates/times AND make them only available with a subscriptions or bundled with other content AND limit the ability of people to record, delay and rebroadcast that content for personal use AND embed advertisements into the content AND limit the ability of people to filter out those advertisements.

    Ultimately there needs to be a business strategy that compromises between the needs of industry and the needs of consumers. This might results in some content produced under the existing model no longer being viable. I'm confident we can find ways to encourage prioritisation of high-quality content for special interest groups over the poor-quality broad audience content
  • Reply 5 of 26
    wovelwovel Posts: 956member
    Seems like the District court in the Aereokiller case is now at odds with two appellate courts in other districts. It is interesting to note Aereos plans seem to exclude the ninth circuit for now. I wonder if they are hoping Aereokiller has a succesful appeal.
  • Reply 6 of 26
    justbobfjustbobf Posts: 261member
    It seems to me that the broadcasters should thank Aereo and count the Aereo audience as additional viewers when choosing rates to charge their advertisers.
  • Reply 7 of 26
    This is NOT AT ALL like a neighborhood pool party.

    Instead of renting two antennae and a DVR, and putting the antennae on the roof of your house, one connected to a DVR and one connected to your TV, the antennae and DVR are in Aereo's building, and the output of those two antennae are ONLY transmitted to you to view. Nobody else gets to view/use them, and if your antennae don't get good reception, you get a crappy picture, even if all the other antennae in their building do get good reception.
  • Reply 8 of 26
    We have service like this in the UK, called TV Catchup. OTA broadcast TV viewable over the internet on your computer and smartphones/tablets. They are free. TV networks already got their ads revenue from the original transmission and this service display their own ads prior to the start of or viewing or when changing channels. I don't know what the fuss US TV networks are about.

    GRanted the channels are recognisably limited but the 5 main terrestrial channels is there. Broadcast delay (compared to TV from the antennae) is minimum. Regional programming is fixed to their HQ in London i.e. showing London-centric local news.
  • Reply 9 of 26
    uberbenuberben Posts: 62member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    I'm sure there's more to the story - and the discussion about the type of antenna seems to support that.



    On the surface, it should have been an easy decision. If you have a neighborhood pool party and show a copyrighted movie, it can be considered an illegal public performance. I'm not sure why this is any more acceptable. It would be interesting to read the entire decision to see where they draw the line.


     


    If each person at the pool party had their own receiving equipment (aerial, antenna) picking up the signal however it would be legal.


     


    On a side note, Applesider is the only website I've ever seen that blocks the Apple spell check feature. 

  • Reply 10 of 26
    irelandireland Posts: 17,684member


    A bit like LA bases CocaCola estate guy owned FilmOn?

  • Reply 11 of 26



    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }
    Ummm... this has WHAT to do with Apple, exactly?   


     

  • Reply 12 of 26
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MyDogHasFleas View Post



    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }
    Ummm... this has WHAT to do with Apple, exactly?  



    -Aereo is completely revolutionary


    -The only tablet that supports Aereo is iPad


    -The only smart phone that supports Aereo is iPhone


    -Two TV-Connected devices support Aereo- Roku directly through the app, and Apple TV through Airplay


     


    So this is a revolutionary and very Apple-centric App.


     


    Aereo should be in 23 cities by the end of the year- if that occurs, and Apple gives it an individual app on ATV- that would be enormous in cutting the cord completely.

  • Reply 13 of 26
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Andysol View Post


    -Aereo is completely revolutionary


    -The only tablet that supports Aereo is iPad


    -The only smart phone that supports Aereo is iPhone


    -Two TV-Connected devices support Aereo- Roku directly through the app, and Apple TV through Airplay


     


    So this is a revolutionary and very Apple-centric App.


     


    Aereo should be in 23 cities by the end of the year- if that occurs, and Apple gives it an individual app on ATV- that would be enormous in cutting the cord completely.



    Interesting.


     


    Is Aereo completely revolutionary? Not completely, but that's a separate story and a subjective one.


     


    The more interesting one is whether they are truly technology innovators or brilliant loophole tunnelers. The truth is somewhere in the middle. The dissenting judge is not entirely wrong - the antenna array is contrived not to solve a technical problem but rather to exploit a technicality. The challenge mounted by the broadcasters is also based in arguing definitions and technicalities. Regardless of perspective, this still spells cleverness. Hopefully, this won't go the way of iCrave. In fact, the right way to resolve this is to rewrite the Public Broadcasting Act (or whichever act applies), rather than to allow it to be a test of legal prowess and perseverance.

  • Reply 14 of 26

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Andysol View Post


    -Aereo is completely revolutionary


    so what does not justify it appearing on AppleInsider


    -The only tablet that supports Aereo is iPad


    That's just because that's all they support right now.  Any browser on any device should work.  There is no app.


    -The only smart phone that supports Aereo is iPhone


    Ditto.


    -Two TV-Connected devices support Aereo- Roku directly through the app, and Apple TV through Airplay


    So Apple TV support is weaker than Roku support.  Yeah, that makes your case.


    So this is a revolutionary and very Apple-centric App.


    well, (a) who cares if it's revolutionary, (b) Apple-centric, huh? It's browser-based (c) there is no App


     


    Aereo should be in 23 cities by the end of the year- if that occurs, and Apple gives it an individual app on ATV


    Bold prediction on my part... as long as major content providers are extremely unhappy with Aereo, Apple won't touch it with a 10 foot pole


    - that would be enormous in cutting the cord completely.


    Why should Apple care?  What's in it for them?


    Aereo's approach is the polar opposite of what Apple would do if they wanted to approach the "put local affiliates on the Apple video streaming ecosystem" business.  Apple would not take their signal off the airwaves and dare them to sue.  Apple would negotiate and beat them down to an agreement.  Furthermore, Apple would not go after local affiliates first, they have probably the least compelling content on TV right now.  It's all about the basic and premium cable channels/networks, and streaming of shows/movies a la carte.  They'd wait, build the national content, then let the locals in for as low a cost as they could negotiate (from a position of strength).  



     

    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

    Thin, gossamer thin justification.  Someone at AppleInsider must have Aereo as a pet cause of theirs.


    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

     

  • Reply 15 of 26
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MyDogHasFleas View Post


     


    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

    Thin, gossamer thin justification.  Someone at AppleInsider must have Aereo as a pet cause of theirs.


    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

     



    You're right.  Nothing gets by you.  I'm on your side- now lets go read another article about a rumor from Digitimes.

  • Reply 16 of 26
    straskstrask Posts: 107member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Obviously not, you dolts; that would be illegal. You're changing the story somewhere.


     


    Aereo's setup sounds sort of like a "startup telecom". Or an "indie telecom", whatever you want to call it. They're doing exactly what the existing telecoms are doing, except over the Internet (with a bunch of truly unnecessary converting in the middle). And are the old fashioned guys just whining that they're being beaten at their own game? 



    No, they didn't beat anyone at their own game.  They are stealing, copying and rebroadcasting.  They may have found a way around some technicalities but that doesn't change what they are doing.  


     


    Beating them at their own game would be to create content and find a way to make money distributing it to people's homes.  

  • Reply 17 of 26
    pt123pt123 Posts: 696member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Obviously not, you dolts; that would be illegal. You're changing the story somewhere.


     


    Aereo's setup sounds sort of like a "startup telecom". Or an "indie telecom", whatever you want to call it. They're doing exactly what the existing telecoms are doing, except over the Internet (with a bunch of truly unnecessary converting in the middle). And are the old fashioned guys just whining that they're being beaten at their own game? 





    Existing telecoms pay to retransmit broadcast TV. How is it that Aereo can retransmit without paying while telecoms have to pay? And can I retransmit a signal and charge for it?

  • Reply 18 of 26
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by strask View Post

    They may have found a way around some technicalities but that doesn't change what they are doing.  


     


    Oh, so it's legal? Then it's not stealing.

  • Reply 19 of 26
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    jragosta wrote: »
    I'm sure there's more to the story - and the discussion about the type of antenna seems to support that.

    On the surface, it should have been an easy decision. If you have a neighborhood pool party and show a copyrighted movie, it can be considered an illegal public performance. I'm not sure why this is any more acceptable. It would be interesting to read the entire decision to see where they draw the line.

    Had it been a pay channel it would be a problem but they're transmitting OTA broadcasts commercials and all over the internet.
  • Reply 20 of 26

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    Had it been a pay channel it would be a problem but they're transmitting OTA broadcasts commercials and all over the internet.


     

    #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

    It's not that simple.  


     


    First, commercials, or pay vs. OTA, has nothing to do with it.  For example, I'm sure you can agree that if I took recordings of, say, NCIS (a popular show on CBS) off the local affiliate OTA, burned DVDs of it, and sold them in a storefront without any agreement with the affiliate or CBS, that my defense against a copyright violation lawsuit of "But I included the commercials!" would not be accepted.  Including the commercials is not a defense against copyright violation.


     


    So the question really is, is what Aereo is doing violating the copyrights of the content owners and/or broadcasters?  That is what the lawsuit is about.  


     


    The hook that Aereo is hanging their hat on is that they are taking OTA signals via antennas and making them available to their subscribers. Now, the fact that it's an OTA signal, and available for anyone to receive with an antenna and a TV set, does NOT mean that the content being broadcast is not copyright protected.  The example I gave above demonstrates that.  Even though the signal is OTA, making a copy of it on a DVD and physically selling that DVD is protected by copyright.  


     


    So the question really is:  is what Aereo is doing more like receiving the broadcast over an antenna connected to a TV set, or is it more like receiving the broadcast, reformatting, copying, and placing it on a different medium, and selling it to a downstream subscriber?  That is the question being wrestled with in the courts right now.  It's not a slam dunk either way in my opinion.


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