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Aereo

Media


Aereo subscribers, you have less than two hours left to binge-watch broadcast television shows. The company is suspending service later this morning following a Wednesday U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found its business model violates copyright law.

Earlier court rulings had been more positive for Aereo, which uses farms of dime-sized antennas to capture over-the-air TV broadcasts and stream them to subscribers over the Internet. But the Supreme Court justices said that Aereo was similar enough to a cable TV company that it needed to pay content owners for their shows. “We conclude that Aereo is not just an equipment supplier,” the ruling said.

Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia wrote today, “As a result of that decision, our case has been returned to the lower Court. We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps. You will be able to access your cloud-based antenna and DVR only until 11:30 a.m. ET today. All of our users will be refunded their last paid month.”

You’d think the buck would stop with the Supreme Court, but Kanojia said, “Our journey is far from done.”

Aereo has raised nearly $100 million in funding from IAC/InterActiveCorp Chairman Barry Diller and others.




9 comments
bsmith9999
bsmith9999

 They really ought to change their business model to sell the tiny antennas to a specific customer for a fixed price then charge a monthly antenna maintenance fee.  That would likely put the ball back over to the greedy corporate megaopoly.  In the past I have agreed with a lot of Supreme Court decisions but it seems any more they are the lackey of whomever has the most money.  Guess who it was in this case?

Christopher Price
Christopher Price

Aereo could fight back by making minor technical changes, like limiting channel availability based on AntennaWeb's assessment - and thus, only giving access to channels that one could obtain from their home/billing address.


A change that significant, albeit simple to implement technically... could force the case all through the courts, all over again.


(If you want more comments Re/code, make it easier to post... had to rewrite that comment twice due to a painful/broken signup process... most people will just give up and not post).

JMWJMW
JMWJMW

Next stop: bankruptcy court, because they don't have enough money left to pay TV stations, networks and rights holders $150,000 per pirated title per subscriber.


This is what happens when a clever engineer thinks he's an expert on law; you give Barry Driller a good laugh.


Next up: FilmOn.  I'm willing to bet that guy will go to jail before his odyssey in the courts is complete.

ftl
ftl

@Christopher Price They were supposedly doing that already. Once you left your local service area, you could no longer get your Aereo channels. In fact, satellite services already do something like that (but you still have to pay fees for your local channels)  They used to allow anybody to get the LA and New York stations no matter where they where. Then around 2000 that became illegal and they could only allow you to receive the local stations from your area. This was because of lobbying by broadcasters to preserve the monopoly your local broadcasters used to have because TV signals have limited range.


But locality has nothing to do with the Supreme Court's assessment that what Aereo was doing constituted a public performance subject to fees under the copyright laws.

Artelisys
Artelisys

@JMWJMW 

Actually you do not have to be a lawyer or an expert at law to know what they were doing was illegal; they knew what they were doing! They opted to gamble for a loophole and they lost!

Christopher Price
Christopher Price

@ftl @Christopher Price Again, my past more eloquent comment was eaten by Re/code's broken login panel. Sigh.


My point was, Aereo was doing that by region, and if they get more specific, they can duck the public-performance claim. The Court didn't do a technical analysis to make such a claim, as such they will have trouble arguing Aereo didn't perform a valid fix to the Court's concern.


If Aereo can get things to the point that it's A) Encrypted and B) No different truly than an OTA in your home, Aereo can come back.


The real question is if there's enough funding left for Aereo to fix-and-fight once again.

Christopher Price
Christopher Price

@Artelisys @JMWJMW They gambled that they could innovate an equivalent to plugging in your own antenna and installing your own DVR app.


To argue that they knew what they were doing was illegal, something the Supreme Court's dual opinions both said was not immediately clear at face value, undermines your own argument. If they didn't immediately know, how can you possibly argue Aereo knew?


The Court made new precedent in this case, and you can bet Aereo will argue as such in lower courts to limit any potential judgements against them while they evaluate their options.

Artelisys
Artelisys

@Christopher Price @ftl 

It will not matter how they do it, by retransmitting the content without paying for the content is a copyright violation. Their only way back into the market with their business model is to pay the networks. 


Christopher Price
Christopher Price

@Artelisys @Christopher Price @ftl The Court went out of its way to say they were not making such a broad interpretation. Under that logic, Slingbox is illegal too if you have it stashed in a vacation home.


Scalia's minority opinion does argue the case that you're making (and I sympathize with it, as I agree with Scalia and you that the majority created such a mess).


But, the majority opinion squarely said that it was limited to Aereo's specific technological implementation, to avoid such a chilling effect. Scalia, (and apparently you and I both) disagree. It's a mess.


The advantage for Aereo is, that since the lines are so infirm, Aereo can adapt... and call the verdict into question.

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