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News TV stations versus Aereo at the Supreme Court

  1. Apr 22, 2014 #1

    jtbell

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    Today the US Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of over-the-air television broadcasters versus Aereo, which picks up those OTA signals and delivers them to paying customers by streaming them over the Internet.

    At issue is whether Aereo should pay broadcasters for the right to transmit those signals, as cable and satellite TV providers must do, which is what the broadcasters want. Aereo claims that it doesn't have to do this, because it uses "farms" of thousands of individual dime-size antennas that are each "rented" to individual customers, and therefore they can pick up the signals for free just like I can with the antenna on my roof.

    Supreme Court quizzes Aereo: Do TV streams break the law? (CNN)

    What I want to know is: if you take one of those dime-size antennas out on the street outside the Aereo facility, will it actually pick up a useful signal? If it relies on the presence of all those other antennas nearby, in some sort of collective resonance phenomenon, is it really a "single individual antenna" like the one on my roof?

    I'm sure there a lot of other people who don't know the difference!
     
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  3. Apr 22, 2014 #2

    Ryan_m_b

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    Hmm so Aereo is getting TV signals in the same way that any one with an antenna on their roof could do, then streaming it to individuals over the internet? What is illegal about that?
     
  4. Apr 22, 2014 #3

    Evo

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    They're charging people, for one. That's what is being decided, I believe, do they have the right to capture broadcasts and then resell them for a profit? It's one thing to view them for free, it's another to make a business off of copyrighted material without paying associated royalties.
     
  5. Apr 22, 2014 #4

    jtbell

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    It's OK for me to put up my antenna and watch those broadcasts for free. It's not OK for me to split my antenna cable, run a branch over to my neighbor's house, and charge him a fee for it that gives me a profit.

    In many places, that's exactly how cable and satellite TV companies get their local broadcast signals. They put up an antenna in a suitable location (our local cableco used to have such a facility along the road to our nearest "big city") and feed the signal into their cables or beam it up to their satellites. But they pay retransmission fees to the local stations, which Aereo is trying to get around by using that "one antenna per customer" trick.

    The local stations (and the national networks that they're affiliated to) are worried about this because if Aereo wins, then the door will be open for cable and satellite companies to adopt similar technology, and stop paying the retransmission fees themselves. The FOX network (at least) has claimed that in that case they would shut down their OTA broadcasts and go cable/satellite-only.

    Maybe this is just hyperbole, maybe not. In any case, it's worrying for people like me who get TV only via antenna. Admittedly, that's a relatively small number, probably less than 10% in the US.
     
  6. Apr 22, 2014 #5

    jim hardy

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    hmmm ...

    so if it's in the air and receivable by an individual antenna it's fair game?

    applying that same logic, shouldn't I be able to decode and use any satellite TV photons that fall on my property without paying the satellite company?

    No wonder Dish wanted back the setup they'd insisted I buy ten years ago.

    I see a rebirth of the pirate satellite TV cottage industry in this.
     
  7. Apr 22, 2014 #6

    jtbell

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    If you can do it without decrypting it. If you have to break encryption, you fall afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Assuming you're in the US, of course.
     
  8. Apr 22, 2014 #7

    Evo

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    Many tv stations, both broadcast and cable, will allow you to view their shows online for free. I think Aereo are scum and are going to screw up everything for those of us that enjoy watching our favorite shows for free directly from those stations now.
     
  9. Apr 22, 2014 #8

    nsaspook

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    The Aereo case is interesting. There are many passive and active relay systems to send OTA TV signals to those who due to geography (in a river valley for example in this area) can't receive signals. Some communities have paid for a contractor to build a system of antennas on the top of a hill to capture and send via cable or to individual private home OTA antennas into the valley those signals without any demanded payment to the TV stations because it increases the coverage area and the fees that can be charged by those stations for commercials. Unless Aereo is modifying the stations broadcasts instead of just storing them digitally (OTA is digital now anyway with several possible stations on one frequency channel) and relaying them for later viewing their business seems to fall within the 'fair use/DVR' decision.

    For a station to remove it's programming from OTA broadcast because new technology increased viewers would IMO be pretty stupid and contrary to the FCC license for that very pricey spectrum.
     
  10. Apr 23, 2014 #9

    Evo

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    They are charging people for this.

    TV stations pay a lot of money to produce these shows. They recoup that money from commercials. The amount of viewers control how much sponsors are willing to pay. This means that viewership needs to be tracked. Aereo is stealing shows and illegally (IMO) selling them since they are neither paying the companies that pay to produce these shows nor contribute to the counted viewers. And it's not just the cost for the initial show, if the show goes into syndication, actors are payed based on reruns. What Aereo is doing is wrong, IMO. If anyone/everyone is allowed to rip off the production companies, then there will be no production, it's that simple.
     
  11. Apr 23, 2014 #10

    nsaspook

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    Aereo seems to be mainly a centralized DVR service, so instead of you 'legally' recording a OTA program using a device like this HD HOMERUN (I use one with my media system for Android devices) for later viewing on a home network storage (using mythtv that can automatically skip commercials :approve:) they 'for a price' handle the messy details by allowing you to view their versions of the broadcast. OTA TV networks are 'broadcast' networks (chartered via the FCC to the public so there are no restrictions on viewing broadcasts) so if I can receive their station, store it on a local computer or remote DVR system to watch it later (or never) and by current law it's not stealing or infringement what is Aereo doing that makes their process possibly illegal?
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  12. Apr 23, 2014 #11

    jim hardy

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    Does aeros pay the isp's for the large amount of data handling equipment that it takes to stream their video ?

    I resent subsidizing their (and Netflix's) extreme bandwidth requirements through increased cost for basic internet connection.

    Internet is our "Tower of Babel".
    Or maybe "Babble".

    In the Florida Keys we had repeaters operated by the county until around 1998 when the cable company came in. I assumed it was local graft and corruption that shut down the repeaters.
    But maybe it was fallout from that telecommunications act Clinton passed ?
     
  13. Apr 23, 2014 #12

    Ryan_m_b

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    Ah I see, so it all comes down to the right of resale then?

    Hmm, is the cost of internet access rising? As far as I have observed the price has remained stable but if you want to do a lot of streaming you have to pay for a larger package. That system seems acceptable to me over the alternative in which you might have to pay premium for specific sites (in a manner akin to television).
     
  14. Apr 23, 2014 #13

    AlephZero

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    It seems like that question was ruled to be irrelevant, because one of the expert witnesses screwed up (and he wasn't testifying for Aereo).

    Some pictures of a single antenna, and arrays of them, here:
    http://www.hdtvmagazine.com/columns/2012/07/hdtv-expert-guess-what-you-can-get-away-with-it.php
     
  15. Apr 23, 2014 #14

    nsaspook

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    I worked in the Keys back in the 70s (at the Boca Chica base), we had better direct reception from Havana than from the mainland. In fact one of our jobs was sending translated Cuban TV in text files for FBIS.

    People want to watch TV while mobile and the current ATSC modulation method has massive problems with frequency-phase shift/multipath reception when the receiver antenna is moving that makes it almost impossible to receive digital OTA while even walking with a TV receiver in the USA. My guess is TV stations will want you to buy into their crappy new ATSC-M/H mobile services for a price similar to Aereo if ATSC-M/H ever gets popular.

    OTA DRM standard for mobile digital TV.
    http://www.atsc.org/cms/standards/a153/a_153-Part-6-2011.pdf [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  16. Apr 23, 2014 #15

    nsaspook

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    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  17. Jun 25, 2014 #16

    nsaspook

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    Decided: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-461_l537.pdf

     
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