In the US, they're called the "public airwaves" for a reason: we the public own them and networks just license the use. I frown upon the behavior of the networks and hope Aereo will prevail.
This is actually the main business model that Aereo threatens... not because Aereo is all that threatening to re-transmission fees, but that if they are successful, then all cable companies could just use multiple antennas to capture the over-the-air signal and avoid paying the (large) retransmission fees.
(Then you get into cable companies owning networks that own broadcasters, and you see that it's all a big mess)
Aereo basically let's you lease a colocated TV antenna, and streams the content from that antenna to you over the Internet. It's one-to-one, antenna-to-subscriber. This is the core of the business, and the most threatening to broadcasters. But it's also the part where it's really hard for me to imagine how a legal opinion against Aereo could be crafted, without abridging the principles of public access to broadcast TV.
Aereo also leases you DVR services. And I understand that this is where the Cablevision precedent comes into play. But even if that precedent were overturned, it seems to me that it would still be possible for the most disruptive aspects of the service to live on. People would perhaps just be required to host their own DVRs.
(Disclosure: my girlfriend does works for a company that works for Aereo)
I agree, but it makes me think of when people say, "Well, you can't copyright an integer. And if I convert a DVD to a series of bits, and that series of bits expresses a very large integer, then I'm free to share that uncopyrightable number."
It's clever, and arguably true, but it just doesn't fly in real life. The color of bits bites you in the ass, and I sort of expect that to happen with Aereo as well.
Yeah, each part makes sense, but taken as a whole some judge is likely to think, "If it walks like a duck ..."
What's worse is if a judgement comes down against Aereo that, perhaps inadvertently, opens the door for abuse precisely because it ends up abridging the principles of public access to broadcast TV.
How about hex http://daniel.haxx.se/hexpoetry/ http://daniel.haxx.se/hexpoetry/goodies.html
What matters is a certain level of creativity and art. 'as an integer' is no more meaningful than 'as postscript' or 'in times new roman'. It's about the underlying work.
Has this ever been tested in court?
Definitely. Note though, that this was exactly the concern when cable came out, and got its start by delivering over the air broadcasts from faraway metropolises to subscribers in rural areas or other cities.
For anyone interested in the history of telecommunications, definitely check out Tim Wu's "The Master Switch. There's a section on how new cable companies fought against entrenched broadcasters back when the power dynamic was a little different, really shows how often this same battle repeats itself with different players every time.
The question is, given that it is legal for me to record a show broadcast over the public airwaves, is it also legal for me to pay a company to do that for me.
The legal theory is that Aereo is essentially an antenna company. If their service is the legal equivalent of an 'antenna', perhaps antennae are now so powerful that the compulsory licensing law needs to be changed somehow in response. In that case, you don't sue the antenna maker, you lobby congress to change the law. It will be entertaining to see this argued and ruled on.
A parallel scenario... Have you seen the telepresence robots (iPad on a stick) that have started to become available? Lets say you're disabled, can't leave your house, but want to "go out for dinner and a movie" with your friends. Your robot rolls into the movie theater, pays for a ticket, and grabs a seat, streaming the video back to you individually. One camera, one stream, one brain on the other end of the wire, and no backing store. Have you violated copyright laws? I think not. I would also love to see the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) vs. Anti-Camcording argued in the Supreme Court.
From Wikipedia on ADA -- 'Under Title III, no individual may be discriminated against on the basis of disability with regards to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation. "Public accommodations" include most places of lodging (such as inns and hotels), recreation, transportation, education, and dining, along with stores, care providers, and places of public displays, among other things.'
A movie theater is not required to provide for someone with a disability in any way, shape, or form, if they cannot themselves physically (at least) arrive at the location - and I mean their actual body, not telepresence.
About the most they're required to do is ramps for access into / out of the building, disabled seating and bathroom access.
Aereo are entitled to do this. But I don't blame the broadcast companies for freaking out - if Aereo can do this then the cable companies can too - the broadcast networks will lose their retransmission fee revenue (at a time when they're not exactly swimming in cash anyway) and the cable companies get to boost their profits even more. Which they don't deserve.
The only other solution for the broadcast companies will be to switch off their antenna broadcasts, which would also be a big shame.
In my opinion it wouldn't be bad if the networks had to pay the cable companies to get carried--after all, they are essentially just improving reception for viewers, letting the networks display more ads than they otherwise could.
They don't have a right to a revenue stream just because it is there.
True. But I'd argue that Aereo's $7 a month charge to rebroadcast content they have nothing to do with is a dubious revenue stream, too.
With Aereo, you are renting the antenna (just far away) and streaming from that. Every customer has an antenna. It is the logical scaling up of a currently allowable business model. It has the same end result as many less savory models, but it is not illegal at all.
Whether it should continue to be legal is up for debate, but right now it's squarely in the right.
The whole argument obviously relies on the premise that Areo is renting you the antenna, so you're the one doing the recording using rented equipment far away.
1. record a broadcast onto a single disc for time-shifting purposes
2. never watch the broadcast or disc
3. do not edit to remove commercials or make any changes from the original form
4. later sell the disc
5. no longer have a copy
What law are you violating?
I'm pretty sure it can be argued convincingly either way. I'm sure of that because when I was in law school, it was this very question that my copyright professor asked on the day he picked me to be the Socratic method victim, and they always pick questions that can go either way. :-) I don't remember which way I argued, but I think I argued that first sale applied.
Explain in a way that takes into account the fact that cloud DVRs were ruled to be acceptable.
I'm a little unsure what you think copyright law is. It has personal use exemptions that allow you to time-shift content. You are not allowed to sell that content.
Does the first sale doctrine not apply when the original was $0?
Your factory-produced legal copies of what? NBC's content? No you can't. Making DVDs in a factory doesn't magically assign copyright to you. You need NBC's permission.
I only need their permission to make copies beyond that
And to sell any of your recordings.
Can you give me references for this? As far as I understand it the broadcaster is doing the first distribution, so the copyright holder cannot restrict my ability to resell the (single) copy they gave me.
Presumably, the only reason why they have multiple antennas and recording devices is so that the words "copy" and "rebroadcast" do not apply.
When I think broadcast, I envision fanout. There would have to be more than one outgoing wire.
I believe what they've ruled is that there is an exemption for certain personal uses.
2) What's so defensible about a business model that is based entirely on taking advantage of someone else's product? Without the content produced by the networks, there would be absolutely no reason for Aereo to exist.
I think Aereo will win, because the precedent is on its side. However, I also think the company is just taking advantage of a loophole and should try actually producing content people want to watch instead of simply taking some other company's content for free.
If you run an organization that broadcasts content to anybody with an antenna, you should not be shocked, just shocked when somebody picks it up and uses it as they see fit. If you don't want that to happen, don't broadcast your content and don't abuse the public spectrum to try to still exact control over the use of your broadcasted content.
All Aereo does is take advantage of a loophole. They couldn't record the shows and stream them, because that would violate the networks' copyright. So they try to shoehorn effectively the same service into the exception for time-shifting.
The analogous situation would be if they paid $20 per watcher to the strip club, and had one blind dude come in with a whole array of webcams that linked up to people on the internet, with one webcam per person.
To which I'd ask you, why do you think this is a bad thing?
(The difference, of course, being that strip clubs are private whereas the public airwaves are public.)
Who in the real world is being mapped to the strip club which is taking the cover charge money in the analogy? It seems to be that in the analogy's codomain, the strip club might very well love the camera situation as it allows them to make more money per performance. So they can't be standing in for the tv broadcasters. Are they the antenna makers?
The tv broadcasters might more naturally map to the strippers themselves. Except that strippers don't get revenue by something that communicates as easily through the real world video signal like advertisements do. Perhaps if the strippers in the analogy were paid to wear brand logos and messages and such like race car drivers, but they would have to be on the skin, so temporary tattoos then. Or perhaps if the remote viewers in the analogy could hit a button to have the camera toss $X dollar bills onto the stage.
Oh, and the bar... strip clubs also hope to make money on drinks and a cut of the lap dances, is that why you assumed the strip clubs might not like the camera? The cover doesn't actually cover all of the expenses and desired profit. If so, I feel it could have been better spelled out or mentioned at all. But then, maybe the analogy's bar and lap dances are better stand ins for the advertisers in the real world (so we don't have to add in logo tattoos at all).
So, I'm still unsure about this analogy, including about it's value in adding clarity.
When you broadcast, you are granting implicit license to everyone who can receive to have and keep a copy of that event. Were it otherwise, I could set up an antenna, broadcast a video of me flipping the bird to the camera, and maliciously prosecute everyone receiving on that frequency for copyright violation.
If you want control over who sees your show, you can't really be doing it in front of a huge picture window visible from public property, or by pumping it out over radio signals, which is metaphorically the same thing.
But public broadcasts are.. public. A private issue of patronage has nothing to do with a public issue of legality. You can't make any meaningful connections between the scenarios.
> 2) What's so defensible about a business model that is based entirely on taking advantage of someone else's product?
The networks already broadcast the signal for anyone with an antenna to receive. If I own (or rent) a house or apartment where adding an antenna is not feasible (especially as a renter), I don't see why I can pay someone else to setup an antenna and DVR for me.
Does it make a difference that Aereo houses all the antennas in one location? If they were an antenna rental/installation (in your home) company would there be any argument?
Aereo allows people to do no more than what they can already do if they buy and set up their own antenna and DVR/VCR. Thus they take no more advantage of "someone else's product" than TV antenna manufacturers and DVR companies, whose products also would not exist if not for content produced by the networks.
Your argument about them not existing without the content applies to all sorts of businesses, not just Aereo.
The TV network's arguments are specious at best; if a TV antenna manufacturer had somehow invented sufficiently advanced technology for an antenna that could pickup TV signals from any specific area in the US, they would be just as upset.
I view Aereo as nothing more than providing a special antenna that is leased to a customer.
The reliance of the TV networks on the limitations of technology to ensure the success of their business model is not my problem.
In the end, I don't care anyway, I haven't had an antenna or cable TV in nearly a decade. And I don't consume network TV content on Netflix or the like with any regularity. They could all disappear and it wouldn't matter to me.
Certainly Aereo would not exist without broadcast TV. But the service adds a lot of value compared to, e.g. setting up a DIY streaming PVR with MythTV and an antenna.
Also, what harm is being done to the broadcasters?
PART of the business model comes from a Supreme Court ruling (the Sony Betamax case) that permitted home recordings as fair use.
The other part is based on a Second Circuit case (Cablevision) that authorized remote DVR service.
There is a circuit split on several elements in the Cablevision holding so it is quite possible the Supreme Court could rule against Aereo.
Wasn't their another remote DVR case though that they ruled on that had de-duplicated the data for multiple users? The difference in the Cablevision remote DVR being that they didn't de-duplicate data.
While I think the law making this distinction is silly, and the law is dumb and needs to be changed, I don't see Aereo's workaround as something that fits within that law.
Because each user controls their own equipment, and their data isn't stored with that from other people, then you end up with a lot of duplicated, albeit private, data. And that's the difference.
Using one antenna to capture and retransmit a show to yourself is perfectly legal. That's the whole point behind the Slingbox. With a DVR, you are "time-shifting" your viewing. With a Slingbox, you are "place-shifting" your viewing. Put them together, and you can do both. The only distinction for Aereo is that they are providing place and time-shifting as a service using normal (free) over the air signals. Aereo also doesn't allow you to control an antenna for an area where you don't live, so the customer needs to be in the correct geographic area where they could plausibly receive the over-the-air signals without Aereo.
That seems to fall on the `movie theater' end of the dichotomy, but it's legal.
No, Aereo is putting a radio receiver on one end and one customer on the other. Each customer has their own antenna. It's exactly the same as having an antenna on your home TV, only you're renting the antenna and it comes with a DVR.
If one is legal, the other should be as well. And if one is illegal, the other should be as well. Anything else would be insane. IMO, both should be legal.
I agree, I should be able to purchase or rent an antenna from anyone I want to.
A single customer. One radio receiver per customer if I understand their model correctly.
The problem is that the law is nonsensical in the first place, which is why you can approach it from either side and get almost identical results.
I'd certainly pay for the ability to stream TV in distant markets, like IVI.TV did, but it seems like Aereo was created just to have a lawsuit, not satisfy any need.
That's the use case Aereo fills.
Their monthly subscription fee is also lower than the upcharge for buying HDTV from Comcast (who started encrypting their HD local channels because the FCC started letting them).
We don't have Aereo here yet, but when/if they do expand here I'd probably get it.
Harder way: get an Elgato EyeTV
Most complex (but versatile way): get a tuner like the Silicon Dust HDHomerun and set up a Mythtv or Plex system.
(All of the above require an antenna.)
Edit: obviously, you can also use Aereo!