Supreme Court: Aereo's TV Operations are Illegal

Supreme Court: Aereo's TV Operations are Illegal

Aereo Logo 310x

In a 6-3 decision, Aereo's TV streaming service violates the Copyright Act.

Aereo's grand experiment in streaming TV is over, as the Supreme Court decided 6-3 that the company's service is illegal.

The decision, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, says that Aereo's services violate the 1976 Copyright Act, which is something the company's defense said it avoided entirely. Aereo says it rents antennae and DVR hardware to customers, and the TV captured by that rented equipment is free to begin with (broadcasted over the air).

Unfortunately, the majority opinion of the Supreme Court did not seem interested in the technology behind Aereo, but rather with the "performer" aspect of the service.

In other cases involving different kinds of service or technology providers, a user's involvement in the operation of the provider's equipment and selection of the content transmitted may well bear on whether the provider performs within the meaning of the Act. But the manynsimilarities between Aereo and cable companies, considered in light of Congress' basic purposes in amending the Copyright Act, convince us that this difference is not critical here. We conclude that Aereo is not just an equipment supplier and that Aereo "perform[s].

In the end, Aereo's existence is dictated by technology laws set forth nearly 40 years ago. Offering its customers an easier way to view free, over-the-air television, without being bozed into an expensive cable package or awkward home DVR equipment, didn't matter to six members of the Supreme Court.

The dissenting opinion, penned by Justice Scalia, says that the Copyright Act is being inappropriately applied to Aereo. But he also says that Aereo is operating in a loophole of sorts, but suggests that it's up to Congress to fix this loophole.

Aereo might be able to pivot, or retool itself to operate legally (or at least via some other sort of legal loophole). If Congress addressed the kind of service that Aereo provides, there's a chance it could come back, and see some similarly operating competitors. For now, it's about $100 million worth of investor cash down the drain.

Sources: Supreme Court ruling | Business Insider

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Translation: Do not FUCK with our Comcast bribes, errr campaign contributions and donations. If we let you take them down we will not be able to maintain our favorite oligopoly cash cow, because as you know....

To be honest I have to agree with The Supreme Court here, no matter how they justify it, the bottom line is that your getting something created by someone and which they sell (one way or another) pretty much for free. I think TV networks, cable providers, etc... are all corrupt jerks, and believe more should be done about their business practices. As odd as it sounds the realities of the first world are making access to communications technology more of a necessity and it should perhaps even be considered an inalienable right. My opinions are odd because it draws a definite line between the first world and second and third world countries, due to differences in expectations and the ability to operate within those societies.... something which is highly debatable and many people disagree with me on. That said this right is not currently accepted, and thus what your looking at here is theft. Now as time goes on if more people push for informational freedom, technology like this could be a big part of it.

See, while I'm very right wing on some things, one area where I swing very much to the left is in the term of basic human rights. I believe people have a right to things like clean water, and in the modern world electricity, and telecommunications technology. Yes human civilization existed without these things and you can live without them in an absolute sense, but being able to survive does not mean you can actually function in a civilization built around them. As a society becomes more advanced, the people's minimal needs increase accordingly.

To put things into perspective I'm in support of things like programs to give poor people cell phones and cheap (or free) service because they are increasingly needed both personally and professionally, with the assumption things are built around is everyone has one. A shockingly short time ago to get ahold of someone if you were stuck or whatever it was a quick walk and maybe a couple of quarters to use a payphone. Today such phones are exceedingly rare, to the point of being basically extinct because society has changed based on an assumption that everyone has a personal communications device. When society is built up that way, that society needs to ensure it's actually true, at least as much as we can make it.

Given the need for quality news (from multiple competing sources), and other assorted things I am also leaning towards what 10-15 years ago I would have laughed at hysterically, and that's an "inalienable human right to cable TV" or perhaps more accurately the information that comes with cable TV and similar levels of service.... and of course I believe the internet is something else everyone should have virtually limitless access to within a first world country.

Of course this tends to lead to some very left wing views that amount to socializing a lot of these basic services, and if that sounds odd coming from me, that's probably because you haven't heard me go off much about worker's rights.

That said though, I believe the laws and social structure need to change, I don't think stealing is the solution, and what's more when it comes to a company stealing from other companies, like this, it might start out very "nice" but eventually the guy who comes out on top is just going to put their boot into your neck. Think of say "Wal Mart" and how they seemed to be god's gift to consumers due to low prices and convenience, the "super box" arguably killing the mall as they were able to undercut the prices even more than mall-type specialty stores by buying in even bigger bulk. Combine that with the original principles about worker's rights and every worker being given stock in the company originally, and you can see why many people loved "Saint Wally". Now look at what happened when these nice guys wound up on top and knocked out most, if not all, of their competition... WalMart has gone from being saintly to a modern villain and has been high up in a lot of polls for worst people to work for. In the end Aereo would find a way to become just as bad as the guys they drove out of business had this been allowed. "Robin Hood" doesn't exist because the guy robbing from the rich to give to the poor always winds up doing that only until they are clearly on top, then they take all the money for themselves and oppress the poor, becoming the guys they originally robbed.

God forbid you want to truely skip tv advertisments.

Therumancer:
To be honest I have to agree with The Supreme Court here, no matter how they justify it, the bottom line is that your getting something created by someone and which they sell (one way or another) pretty much for free.

The problem with that notion, and why the ruling has terrible implications, is that broadcast Television as part of being allowed to use public airwaves, is supposed to be free. More specifically they are supposed to serve the public interest, a major aspect of which is providing a minimum level of content for anyone who can tap in via an antenna. They have been given a subsidy (last I heard, the airwaves they use freely accounts for roughly a half a trillion dollars worth of transmission space) specifically because they meant to be broadcasting to the public.

If they are going to restrict the consumer's access to that material and are allowed to charge licensing rights to any "service" that finds and collects what is essentially supposed to be free data, then their subsidy has to end. That contractual obligation should have factored into the decision, but it didn't.

harrisonmcgiggins:
God forbid you want to truely skip tv advertisments.

You can, it's called buying it on DVD/Bluray. If your watching free to air TV then no you don't have the right to skip advertisements, they pay for the shows your enjoying.
That said they need to offer shows and movies on Bluray at the same time as they come out on TV/at the movies so people can choose how they want to consume their entertainment, it'd reduce piracy alot.

RicoADF:

harrisonmcgiggins:
God forbid you want to truely skip tv advertisments.

You can, it's called buying it on DVD/Bluray. If your watching free to air TV then no you don't have the right to skip advertisements, they pay for the shows your enjoying.

So everyone who owns a TiVo is a criminal? Funny, the fact that TiVo is still very much still legal to own suggests otherwise...

Granted, this opinion is largely colored by my knowledge that whether you watch ads or skip them is not directly monitored by the networks, like it is on websites. So other than the very low possibility that you'll actually be interested in a product based on its commercial and buy it, you're not really having a direct impact on the network's bottom line. Nor does the number of people watching have an impact on how much they spend broadcasting it, unlike, again, websites, which do have to pay more for bandwidth if they get more traffic.

And unless you're in a Nielsen household, nobody at the network will even know or care what shows you watched either. Really, the only way to "steal" broadcast TV would be to get a Nielsen survey and deliberately not report the shows you watched.

Steve the Pocket:
So everyone who owns a TiVo is a criminal? Funny, the fact that TiVo is still very much still legal to own suggests otherwise...

Granted, this opinion is largely colored by my knowledge that whether you watch ads or skip them is not directly monitored by the networks, like it is on websites. So other than the very low possibility that you'll actually be interested in a product based on its commercial and buy it, you're not really having a direct impact on the network's bottom line. Nor does the number of people watching have an impact on how much they spend broadcasting it, unlike, again, websites, which do have to pay more for bandwidth if they get more traffic.

And unless you're in a Nielsen household, nobody at the network will even know or care what shows you watched either. Really, the only way to "steal" broadcast TV would be to get a Nielsen survey and deliberately not report the shows you watched.

No, I did not say they were criminals, I said they don't have the right as in "you don't have the right to complain" although in hindsight that may have been a better way of putting it. So to correct myself, you have no right to complain about ads and having to watch/manually skip them when they pay for your entertainment. I think that explains my view better.

I don't watch TV much anymore as I prefer to get my stuff on DVD/Bluray and watch it when I feel like it with no ads and the knowledge that I directly supported the entertainment I enjoy, but that's just me :-)

RicoADF:
No, I did not say they were criminals, I said they don't have the right as in "you don't have the right to complain" although in hindsight that may have been a better way of putting it. So to correct myself, you have no right to complain about ads and having to watch/manually skip them when they pay for your entertainment.

Fair enough.

In other news, piracy goes up by 40%. Or rather, it will because of their narrow views.

free broadcast here is encouraged and anyone that has an antenna (lithesome like 30 dollars for a cheap one) can watch it here. we only pay for cable if we want to watch foreign channels. and even then people who buy the dishes get free sattelite of those as well. and its perfectly legal.

RicoADF:

harrisonmcgiggins:
God forbid you want to truely skip tv advertisments.

You can, it's called buying it on DVD/Bluray. If your watching free to air TV then no you don't have the right to skip advertisements, they pay for the shows your enjoying.
That said they need to offer shows and movies on Bluray at the same time as they come out on TV/at the movies so people can choose how they want to consume their entertainment, it'd reduce piracy alot.

hah. whne was the last time you bought a DVD? unskippable ads and "FBI Warnings" that last so long you no longer want to wathc the movie by the time it starts.

And yes, i do have a right to skip the ads. i already paid for that television, with my tax money, because they are subsidized by what amounts to half of trillion of dollars worth free services.

What would REALLY allow people to choose how they want to consume is digital download service for movies/tv shows. and i dont mean shitty quality streams like netflix. i mean high quality downloads. id buy the shit out of such service. Alas, the only one i heard that comes even close is Itunes and i dont visit that out of principle and Sony download box (that works only with sony TVs, of which i have 0).

Yep, they fucked with the Cable-TV Networks dual stranglehold on the American public, which is analogous to trying to move a two ton boulder with your bare hands(hint: you're not Superman in this example). Bravo for them trying, though. Maybe Aereo can recover by selling equipment to the end user to receiver their local signals and record them either to a local HDD or back to Aereo's cloud storage. As long as they put some sort of DRM(hold on I gotta barf for a few minutes), to keep TV execs from then saying it's now allowing people to share shows.

Tumedus:

Therumancer:
To be honest I have to agree with The Supreme Court here, no matter how they justify it, the bottom line is that your getting something created by someone and which they sell (one way or another) pretty much for free.

The problem with that notion, and why the ruling has terrible implications, is that broadcast Television as part of being allowed to use public airwaves, is supposed to be free. More specifically they are supposed to serve the public interest, a major aspect of which is providing a minimum level of content for anyone who can tap in via an antenna. They have been given a subsidy (last I heard, the airwaves they use freely accounts for roughly a half a trillion dollars worth of transmission space) specifically because they meant to be broadcasting to the public.

If they are going to restrict the consumer's access to that material and are allowed to charge licensing rights to any "service" that finds and collects what is essentially supposed to be free data, then their subsidy has to end. That contractual obligation should have factored into the decision, but it didn't.

I have to agree with you there. The only thing I can think of that Aereo could have violated a was making a automated way to skips ads. (I don't even know if they had anything like that.) Aereo's users could get any channel available to them on their service by simple putting an antennae on their TV set and hook up their own DVR system if they wanted to record a show like how Aereo offered. This wasn't like providing the BBC to people outside of the UK without paying BBC. They only provided a service that was basically providing equipment rental, cloud storage, and maintenance when their customers could have done all that themselves. I could go down to the store right now and buy an $30 ATSC tuner card and start recording TV shows, upload to dropbox or whatever, and watch them later off my phone.

This does give TV networks more legal ammo it future lawsuits. It could give them the cojones to later attack DVR makers(software or hardware) and make them disable fast forwarding ads, limit the length of time one can store a particular episode or outright illegalize it altogether, except for Cable/Satellite's generous(read:overpriced) services. Nice going SCOTUS, whenever you do something good(making police require a warant to search your phone), you do something to offset it(giving more power to people who can literally burn money to keep warm).

Slash2x:
Translation: Do not FUCK with our Comcast bribes, errr campaign contributions and donations. If we let you take them down we will not be able to maintain our favorite oligopoly cash cow, because as you know....

Do you have any evidence at all that is true? I'm not aware of any Supreme Court Justice ever having been bribed. And what do campaign contributions have to do with it? They can't and don't accept contributions and don't run for office. They're in the position for life, so they are not beholden to any special interests or even the President who selected him. There are many examples of Justices deciding against the party that put them into power.

I don't really agree with the decision here, but it was not cut-and-dry that Aereo should win. The ideological breakdown on the decison made sense too. Thomas, Scalia, and Alito are more "letter of the law" than the other judges.

Basically every time the Supreme Court makes any decision, some on the losing side declare how they've been paid off or something. "Best judges money can buy" comes up a lot. That's just nonsense, and there's zero evidence that's the case.

Clovus:

Slash2x:
Translation: Do not FUCK with our Comcast bribes, errr campaign contributions and donations. If we let you take them down we will not be able to maintain our favorite oligopoly cash cow, because as you know....

Do you have any evidence at all that is true? I'm not aware of any Supreme Court Justice ever having been bribed. And what do campaign contributions have to do with it? They can't and don't accept contributions and don't run for office. They're in the position for life, so they are not beholden to any special interests or even the President who selected him. There are many examples of Justices deciding against the party that put them into power.

I don't really agree with the decision here, but it was not cut-and-dry that Aereo should win. The ideological breakdown on the decison made sense too. Thomas, Scalia, and Alito are more "letter of the law" than the other judges.

Basically every time the Supreme Court makes any decision, some on the losing side declare how they've been paid off or something. "Best judges money can buy" comes up a lot. That's just nonsense, and there's zero evidence that's the case.

You are right I have not looking into that in a while. So let me do this http://bit.ly/1o7viAG

WOW THAT IS ALOT OF INFO!

I especially like this gem.
http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2012/07/thompson_said_supreme_court_sh.html

I agree we do need to clarify this obviously hazey point....

 

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