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Supreme Court Rules against Aereo, Says the Service Violates TV Network Copyrights

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Supreme Court Rules against Aereo, Says the Service Violates TV Network Copyrights

Postby sunnyd » Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:47 pm

Aereo video streaming Internet service has been under fire with TV networks CBS, ABC, Fox, PBS, and other networks as well, almost since the beginning of its debut in 2012. Shortly after its launch, a lawsuit was filed by the TV networks for infringement of their rights. Aereo’s service lets subscribers watch broadcast television online, and the networks had claimed that Aereo violated copyrights and infringed the rights of the TV networks by doing so without paying fees. In a six-to-three opinion today, the Supreme Court agreed with the TV networks and ruled that Aereo was in violation of copyrights due to the service being an infringement of the "public performance rights" section of the copyright law.

The opinion stated that Aereo is basically the equivalent of a cable company, and that cable companies must pay licensing fees when broadcasting content over-the-air. "Viewed in terms of Congress’ regulatory objectives, these behind-the-scenes technological differences do not distinguish Aereo’s system from cable systems, which do perform publicly," is how it was stated in the opinion.

Each subscriber of Aereo rents a small antenna along with DVR storage, a system described by many as being similar to using the older “rabbit ears.” Justice Stephen Breyer ruled that Aereo was in violation of copyright by selling subscribers a service that allows people to watch the TV programs "almost at the same time" as the programs are being broadcast over the TV networks. "Aereo's activities are substantially similar to those of the CATV companies that Congress amended the act to reach," Breyer wrote for the majority. He was referring to the change that Congress made to the Copyright Act in 1976, in which amendments were made to ensure that the law governed community antenna television (CATV) systems, a forerunner to modern cable. When Congress amended the copyright law in 1976, it was made clear that community antenna systems were having a "public performance" because they "both show the program's images and make audible the program's sounds."

Aereo Inc., which is backed by IAC’s Barry Diller, has always argued and maintained that what it provided for subscribers wasn't similar to a cable system because it was a service that simply rented equipment to its customers.

Aereo had won a major victory in the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit last year, which was the only court that would take the case and denied the TV networks an injunction against Aereo. Once the TV networks appealed to the Supreme Court, Aereo’s service was banned in six states by a Utah Judge, including two states that the service had already been launched in.

Justice Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito joined the dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia, which concludes that, while Aereo's service maybe "ought not to be allowed," the court should "not distort the Copyright Act to forbid it." Scalia wrote, "It is not the role of this court to identify and plug loopholes," and he also stated "It is the role of good lawyers to identify and exploit them, and the role of Congress to eliminate them if it wishes. Congress can do that, I may add, in a much more targeted, better informed, and less disruptive fashion than the crude 'looks-like-cable-TV' solution the court invents today." Scalia also said that Aereo is similar to "a copy shop that provides its patrons with a library card."

This case against Aereo has been followed very closely by many tech companies with relation to the future of cloud computing services. Consumer advocates however, and even the Obama administration, took the side of the TV broadcasters which included ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and PBS. The larger tech companies and smaller cable companies sided with Aereo for fear that if Aereo lost in court, the future of cloud computing services could potentially be in danger. Breyer did state that other questions that had been raised about cloud computing, DVRs, and "other novel issues not before the Court" were not being decided today.

Aereo chief executive Chet Kanojia called today’s decision "a massive setback for the American consumer." Aereo’s service provided exactly what many consumers wanted, much to the dislike of the TV broadcasting networks.

The immediate effect by the ruling today to Aereo’s subscribers which are currently in 11 different cities, is still unclear at the time of publishing this story.

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Re: Supreme Court Rules against Aereo, Says the Service Viol

Postby TEA-Time » Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:09 pm

Just like with music copyright debate, public opinion doesn't matter at all here either. It's just a bunch of people fighting over money.

I should make that my signature. Heh
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Re: Supreme Court Rules against Aereo, Says the Service Viol

Postby HouseCrowd » Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:48 am

TEA-Time wrote:It's just a bunch of people fighting over money.

I should make that my signature. Heh


I think it pretty much sums up the whole of mankind.

HHGTTG wrote:This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
There are 10 types of people in the World; those who understand binary, and those who do not.
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Re: Supreme Court Rules against Aereo, Says the Service Viol

Postby tmc » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:44 am

The problem is Aero was PROFITING off the distribution of copyrighted content by selling subscriptions.
The vast MAJORITY of streaming services which don't generally charge subscriptions but act nearly as non-profits with advertising supporting the costs are bound to fly under the radar for quite a while until the laws change. Keep in mind, there are plenty of PREMIUM & NON-PREMIUM cable-tv channels which have several sources streaming around the globe. It's also worth noting this is an issue not distinctly a US controversy. Subscription & non-subscription channels alike from other countries are seeing world-wide distribution because the resources to do so, are getting cheaper by the year!

It's been widely accepted that various personal uses of copyrighted materials are not flagged for law enforcement to become involved. That's why you have copy machines in libraries full of stacks of copyrighted materials. However, with today's cell phone technologies... you dont' have to stick a rusty nickel, dime or quarter in a machine anymore. You can just snap a picture of each page and assemble your own books. Whether you choose to print it is your business. Digital photography with cell phones is the equivalent of mp3-izing paper materials! So streaming is the poor man's equivalent to a paid tv subscription. Companies will have to either make draconian censoring laws or evolve their business model. Guess which one will probalby win out?
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