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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday March 05 2014, @09:16AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the justice-for-whom dept.

Fluffeh writes:

"Following up on our earlier story, the Justice Department has filed in the Supreme Court supporting Broadcasters in their case against Aereo the company that rents a small antenna for each customer, lets them record free to air TV, the streams it back to them anywhere.

The Justice Department argues that by doing so, they are allowing their customers to 'gain access to copyrighted content in the first instance, the same service that cable companies have traditionally provided.' but do so without paying broadcasters a license fee to do so. Aereo has argued that it isn't violating federal copyright laws and isn't threatening the future of the broadcast industry. Company executives have argued in public and in court filings that the service appeals to cord cutters and will help broadcasters keep those viewers."

Related Stories

Aereo Suffers Loss and Hopes for Supreme Court Win 28 comments

Fluffeh writes:

"Although there are arguments scheduled for 22 April in the Supreme Court, US District Judge Dale Kimball of Utah ruled against Aereo which effectively bans it in Utah along with the rest of the 10th Circuit, which includes Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

Kimball ruled that Aereo's retransmission of Plaintiffs' copyrighted programs "is indistinguishable from a cable company and falls squarely within the language of the Transmit Clause." He didn't buy Aereo's argument that its system of renting a tiny antenna to each customer allows it to avoid the "Transmit Clause" of the 1976 Copyright Act, which determines what kind of "transmissions" of copyrighted material must pay licensing fees."

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bradley13 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @10:59AM

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 05 2014, @10:59AM (#11259) Homepage Journal

    It's clear that copyright prohibits one from reselling a work. That is irrelevant here.

    If you beam a signal out to the world, it seems pretty obvious that people can and will receive it. It doesn't matter whether it's a television signal, or police radio, or whatever. Trying to prohibit people from receiving a signal is pointless and pretty stupid.

    Where my antenna is standing, and whether I own the antenna or only rent it, it is *my* antenna receiving a public broadcast that *I* can then view. That's all that's happening here, nothing to see, move on. That such a clear case made it past the first court, is really almost beyond belief.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by mrbluze on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:06AM

      by mrbluze (49) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:06AM (#11261) Journal

      It's the best justice that money can buy.

      --
      Do it yourself, 'cause no one else will do it yourself.
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Khyber on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:17PM

      by Khyber (54) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:17PM (#11282) Journal

      "If you beam a signal out to the world, it seems pretty obvious that people can and will receive it."

      In fact, the FCC has CLEAR REGULATIONS regarding that very fact, which allows us to record/watch/display that OTA signal if it is received by any part of our property.

      --
      Destroying Semiconductors With Style Since 2008, and scaring you ill-educated fools since 2013.
      • (Score: 0) by VLM on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:00PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:00PM (#11299)

        Maybe the whole point of the farce is to "fix" that little bug.

        So owning a VCR or DVR or tivo would be a DMCA circumvention violation.

        Luckily we have a free market, unlike those economies where a strong overbearing central government picks the winners and losers. That's why we're so rich and successful. Freedumb!

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by MrGuy on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:48PM

      by MrGuy (1007) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:48PM (#11317)

      Right. If you broadcast it, people will receive it.

      However, you seem to be making a leap from that fact to what seems to be an assertion that, once you broadcast it, you lose any rights to control what someone who receives the content does with it. And that's where the law gets squirrelly. Putting something OTA once doesn't mean putting the content in the public domain.

      Just because you can't stop me receiving the broadcast doesn't mean I can charge other for your content (which is why bars have to pay sports broadcasters ti show games on TV). It doesn't mean I can receive a signal, then re-broadcast it to others without your permission (which is why cable companies have to pay OTA broadcasters). It doesn't mean I can record a movie on TV, burn it to a DVD, and sell it to others. You can't stop me from doing these things with your broadcast signal, but it doesn't make them legal under copyright law. You might argue that they SHOULD be legal, but that's not where the law is right now.

      Recording, modifying, rebroadcasting are all activities that require either permission from the rights holder or to be activities covered under copyright safe harbors such as fair use. It's why it required the Supreme Court to weigh in on the Betamax case [wikipedia.org] to find that personal time shifting constituted fair use.

      It's why Arero is in such a grey area. On the one hand, it's my leased antenna in a different place, so it's just standard "receiving a broadcast". On the other hand, they have to transmit the received signal to you from the antenna, which is arguably re-broadcasting. And they are charging money for that service.

      You may not like the law, but calling it "obviously inapplicable" isn't reasonable. Yes, broadcasters DO have the right (under current law) to control what people do with received signals.

      Don't get me wrong - I'm with you that I think what Aereo is doing is reasonable (IMO it's very similar to the Betamax case as personal fair use), but that doesn't mean that this should have been laughed out of the first court it came into.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Aighearach on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:33PM

        by Aighearach (2621) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:33PM (#11446)

        However, you seem to be making a leap from that fact to what seems to be an assertion that, once you broadcast it, you lose any rights to control what someone who receives the content does with it.

        Is that a straw man, eating a red herring?

        Like he said, "It's clear that copyright prohibits one from reselling a work."

        So no, not only was there no "leap" to it, or assertion that it is so, you claim the exact opposite. The fact is that not reselling is all that copyright does. It doesn't allow any broad right to control "what someone who received the content does with it." Only republishing is controlled.

        And like he says, "Where my antenna is standing, and whether I own the antenna or only rent it, it is *my* antenna receiving a public broadcast that *I* can then view." Your claims of broad control would mean that if I buy a book, the copyright holder gets to decide when and where and if I can resell it. But that is not the case at all. Your example about recording a movie on TV starts with making an unauthorized copy. Then you try to create similarities with the case at hand. But that doesn't work, because whatever you add is unneeded. In the real case, the antenna is rented, and the rules are clear for over-the-air-broadcast; if it is your own antenna, you can record at play it back later. That is fair use.

        Your example is covered by past Supreme Court precedent where the court found that the a motel with a VHS machine for each room is still re-broadcasting movies, not playing home collections. This is very different in 2 obvious ways; 1, people are actually choosing what to record off their antenna; the business is not recording what they think they viewers will want, and then pointing at the antenna. The antenna is really being controlled by the actions of the antenna-renter. And second, over-the-air broadcasts have taken on additional restrictions because it is not their airwaves. They're leasing the airwaves from the People, through the Government.

        Also, you botched the bars issue. "Just because you can't stop me receiving the broadcast doesn't mean I can charge other for your content (which is why bars have to pay sports broadcasters ti show games on TV)." Bars have to pay to have permission to re-broadcast, NOT to charge others. If they charge a cover, or show it free, that makes no difference. If they have the permission to show it, then they can charge. Likewise, if the customer owns an antenna, and you're operating their TV infrastructure for them, you can charge anything you want. The right of the customer to that information is based on the legal requirement that the owner of the antenna can record and time-shift it. The broadcaster doesn't control any of the rest, how you pay for your TV, if your TV displays on a computer screen, or a big screen, or a wristwatch TV.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by bugamn on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:52PM

      by bugamn (1017) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @01:52PM (#11321)

      I believe copyright prohibits one from copying a work, not reselling. I can resell the books I have, but I cannot make new copies (and then sell those).

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:08AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:08AM (#11263)

    From the summary:

    Aereo has argued that it [...] isn't threatening the future of the broadcast industry.

    Why should that even matter for the legality? Back when cars were introduced, they clearly threatened the future of the horse carriage industry (and of several other industries linked to it, like horseshoe makers), does that mean cars should have been forbidden in order to protect the future of those industries?

    Electricity threatened the future of the gas lighting industry. Should electricity have been forbidden back then?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:20PM (#11406)

      "Company executives have argued in public and in court filings that the service appeals to cord cutters and will help broadcasters keep those viewers.""

      Why should the government be concerned with broadcasters keeping their viewers? Why is it the governments job to ensure that broadcasters maintain their customers and income and to regulate the market in such a way as to ensure that a certain business stays in business no matter what?

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Foobar Bazbot on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:06PM

      by Foobar Bazbot (37) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:06PM (#11467) Journal

      That shouldn't matter. But Aereo wants to file this case under "won", not "should have won", so they're dealing with reality instead of theory. In reality, we have quite a few judges who care more about maintenance of the status quo than about the law as written, so a successful case has to include reassurances for them.

    • (Score: 1) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:54PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:54PM (#11489) Journal

      Aereo has argued that it [...] isn't threatening the future of the broadcast industry.

      Why should that even matter for the legality?

       
      The courts use whether the usage harms the rights holder as a guideline on whether something is fair use or not.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:37AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:37AM (#11277)

    a couple of months ago. The signal was never crystal clear when played on my PC or my tablet. The tablet interface did not fit properly on my tablet but I use a modded HP Touchpad with Cyanogenmod. Before my month was up I canceled the trial and bought my own antenna. This has worked much better. Weather can sometimes interfere with channels so I installed a pre-amp on the antenna itself. Aero might be an option for those living in apartments that can't mount their own antenna or for people too far out of range to grab their own signals. I was lucky to be on the edge of many signals and with adding the pre-amp picked up even more.

  • (Score: 0) by nightsky30 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:53PM

    by nightsky30 (1818) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @12:53PM (#11297)

    I see Aereo doing nothing wrong. Perhaps someone else's pockets are being filled, and Aereo loses. It's a very sad situation.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by evilviper on Wednesday March 05 2014, @02:23PM

    by evilviper (1760) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @02:23PM (#11331) Homepage Journal

    I fail to see why the Justice Department has a pony in this race... Aereo isn't going to increase white collar crime rates, or anything of the sort. I could see the FCC chiming-in, but not many others.

    And now, a preemptive dump of info from my other comments:

    DVRs:
    Why would anyone ever bother with an expensive Tivo?

    eMatic/iView/HomeWorx/ViewTV sell $30-60 "Digital converter boxes" with USB ports. Plug in a portable USB hard drive (most support up to 3TB) and you can record any TV shows you want in 1080i, time-shift the current program, watch any of the sub-channels on the channel you're recording, connect the drive to your computer and watch/edit/reencode them there, etc. Under $100 total for a 1TB HD DVR, with no monthly fees. ATSC has a built-in guide, anyhow, so why pay Tivo to give it to you in a roundabout way?

    Cost:
    At $8/month, you'd pay off even a high-end fringe (60mi) antenna system and cheap DVR (above) in 3 years. Slightly longer if you want to account for a few hours of installation time. Less time if you count the saving of switching your internet service to a lower-speed tier.

    Antennas:
    If you rent a house, or otherwise have any exclusive-use space (eg. in a single-story rental, you're free to stick an antenna on the roof, if you don't damage the building doing so). I've found that chimney-mount straps work quite well for holding an antenna mast to a roof-top central-air condenser unit... Alternatively, a tripod and some guy wires can do the job quite well.

    If weather is affecting your reception, you've just got a crappy antenna system, wherever you've got it installed. Buy a nice 8-bay antenna like a Winegard 8800, and a mast-mount preamp like a Winegard LNA-200, and you'll probably see vastly different results.

    Digital TV is great:
    I had a number of analog stations that were so far gone you could BARELY tell, if you focused hard enough, that there was a discernible picture and sound buried under the wall of static. After the switchover, they finally became watchable, perfect picture 99% of the time.

    What tricks most people into damming digital, is the fact that VHF-lo channels (2-6) were almost universally switched to UHF frequencies, and a few VHF-hi channels (7-13) did the same, too. If you are/were 60-100 miles away from the broadcast tower, or only had a VHF antenna, you'll suddenly find that 2-6 disappeared entirely, or are just hard to pick up. A VHF antenna will pick-up STRONG UHF signals, but NOT WELL. The answer, of course, is getting a good UHF antenna, and mounting it nice and high up a mast.

    OTA reception is growing:
      Younger people are MORE likely to use an OTA antenna than older people. Poor people are always disproportionately represented, but they're absolutely not the only group where OTA viewership is growing.

    "The number of households relying on OTA reception only is also growing, [...] Growth is especially strong amongst younger households,"

    "One in five young households never bothered to get a TV subscription to begin with."

    "Also, 28 percent of all households with a head of household under the age of 35 use an antenna instead of a pay-TV subscription."

    http://broadcastengineering.com/towersantenna/cord -cutters-turning-online-video-and-ota-antennas [broadcastengineering.com]

    Laws:
    Laws should be general enough that they don't ever need to be updated to suit the technology of the moment. Broadcasters are trying to say what Aereo is doing is wrong and bad, but frankly, if you can't describe the badness in black and white law, without either outlawing normal and reasonable individual behaviors (eg. neighbors sharing an antenna) or resorting to specific technicalities and intricacies of current technologies, then what you're trying to enshrine in law just doesn't belong there. Notice that the internet didn't change MURDER laws one damn bit.

    I just murdered someone... but you can't arrest me, because it was in the cloud!

    --
    Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by compro01 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @02:30PM

      by compro01 (2515) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @02:30PM (#11334)

      I fail to see why the Justice Department has a pony in this race

      Because this dude [wikipedia.org] is the Solicitor General.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @04:16PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @04:16PM (#11382)

        This is an issue for the content producers, Disney, etc, and not for the cable companies. The content producers successfully extorted the cable companies into paying for Network television, which is broadcast over the air for free. Aero is trying to legally evade those fees. The content providers, and their paid lawyers, Verrilli, included, are trying to stop this.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Foobar Bazbot on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:10PM

          by Foobar Bazbot (37) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:10PM (#11469) Journal

          The cable companies don't like it either, though, because they're already stuck paying those fees, and an Aereo victory won't let them stop. So they'd much rather see Aereo (which offers a competing, though not equivalent, service) stuck with the same fees, else Aereo will have an advantage and take more of their customers.

          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by evilviper on Wednesday March 05 2014, @09:16PM

            by evilviper (1760) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @09:16PM (#11524) Homepage Journal

            No, cable companies can do the same thing as Aereo... The broadcast channels will just be delievered "OnDemand" like PPV / Movies / etc., instead of a normal channel on the dial.

            --
            Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:41PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @03:41PM (#11365)

      I fail to see why the Justice Department has a pony in this race...

      It's simple: Obama and the Democrats are always on the side of the big media companies and the copyright cartel.

      Asking why is like asking why the Republicans are always backing the oil companies.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @04:16PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @04:16PM (#11381)

      Laws should be general enough that they don't ever need to be updated to suit the technology of the moment.

      Not ever? That would need lawmakers who essentially can foresee all possible cases, even those involving possibilities which are not there at the time of lawmaking.

      For an easy example, consider a future world where relativistic speeds can be easily achieved. Now consider a thief who escapes with his highly relativistic ship. When he returns, on the earth more time has passed than the limitation period for theft. But for the thief himself, thanks to time dilatation, much less time has passed, especially less than the limitation period.

      Now the legal question: Has the theft become time-barred or not?

      I'm pretty sure that in that case the law would have to be amended to specify which time is relevant for the limitation period.

      • (Score: 1) by evilviper on Friday March 07 2014, @02:45PM

        by evilviper (1760) on Friday March 07 2014, @02:45PM (#12682) Homepage Journal

        Not ever? That would need lawmakers who essentially can foresee all possible cases, even those involving possibilities which are not there at the time of lawmaking.

        As I said in the first place: "what you're trying to enshrine in law just doesn't belong there. Notice that the internet didn't change MURDER laws one damn bit."

        consider a thief who escapes with his highly relativistic ship. When he returns, on the earth more time has passed than the limitation period for theft.

        The statute of limitations only applies to the time the government can wait to file a criminal case. If it can proceed without the accused, then he'll be sentenced in abstentia, and when he returns, will be sent directly to jail to begin serving his sentence. If it can't proceed, then he will just be indicted, and the trial will be recessed until the accused returns to face the charges.

        --
        Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @05:32AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @05:32AM (#12504)

      A weak digital signal leads to freezing and pixellating which is annoying enough to be unwatchable. An analog signal might get snowy, but the video continues on and the audio continues on and the show is not constantly interupted.

      • (Score: 1) by evilviper on Friday March 07 2014, @02:50PM

        by evilviper (1760) on Friday March 07 2014, @02:50PM (#12685) Homepage Journal

        A weak digital signal leads to freezing and pixellating which is annoying enough to be unwatchable. An analog signal might get snowy, but the video continues on and the audio continues on and the show is not constantly interupted.

        This is completely wrong. A signal so weak that a digital tuner can't lock on it, will be indistinguishable from background static. It won't just be staticy, it'll be 99% white static snow. And when it's just strong enough that a digital tuner could make a PERFECT picture out of it, the analog signal would be black and white, rolling vertically/horizontally, sound like they're whispering in front of Niagra falls, etc.

        --
        Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by TWiTfan on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:09PM

    by TWiTfan (2428) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:09PM (#11401)

    I'm SHOCKED! Just SHOCKED!

    --
    If real life were like D&D, my Charisma score would be a negative number