TV broadcasters ask U.S. Supreme Court to review dispute of iPad TV streamer Aereo

“Television broadcasters are asking the highest court in the United States for answers on Aereo’s legality,” Eriq Gardner reports for The Hollywood Reporter.

“The digital company captures over-the-air TV signals and relays them to subscribers’ digital devices,” Gardner reports. “The broadcasters have contended this is an infringement on their copyrights and specifically, a violation of their performance rights. A New York federal judge, however, refused to grant an injunction on the grounds that each Aereo subscriber was receiving a private, individualized transmission stream. In April, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that denial.”

Gardner reports, “The petitioners say that the 2nd Circuit ruling ‘threatens to upend’ the billions of dollars that the TV industry has invested in programming “by blessing a business model that retransmits ‘live TV’ to paying customers without obtaining any authorization or paying a penny to the copyright owners.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
By putting over-the-air online legally, Aereo clears the way for all TV everywhere – April 10, 2013
Apple is a winner in the Aereo online TV ruling, for now – July 12, 2012

25 Comments

    1. This seems a ton more convenient than VCR, and makes it impossible to track how many viewers are seeing ads.

      With the VCR, you’d tape a show here and there, with this you’re basically just watching TV that’s being rebroadcast without paying anyone besides Aereo, a company that has created zero content.

      This has nothing to do with the quality of the content either.

      1. Before Cable DVRs I used VHS more than just to tape a show here or there. I used it much the same way I use my DVR now. If broadcast TV doesn’t want Aereo to “retransmit” their signal than maybe they ought to stop transmitting their signal over the air. The broadcast stations are raking in the moola with retransmission fees and they are seeing this business model being threatened. They won’t be able to hold Cable companies hostage anymore by taking their content off the air and then blaming the cable companies for the subs favorite show being pulled off the air. They are the real scumbags, but the cable companies bare the brunt because they are the ones front facing to the consumers. People already hate their cable co. so it’s easier to blame them when the Food Network goes off the air or someone cannot watch the Oscars. Don’t get me wrong the cable cos. are not angels but this is less about ad revenue and more about leverage and retransmission fees. Aereo has taken great pains to stay within the “letter of the law” and will continue to win like the VCR, DVR, and network DVR did before it, even the Hopper has evaded the networks reach so far. And in the end, Aereo will have the same effect as all the other technologies before it, negligible at best. This isn’t a death knell for the networks if Aereo holds up in the Supreme Court.

    2. Partially correct. If you have an antenna and a DVR you too can do what Aereo is doing. Aereo is just hosting (renting you an antenna at their location).

      The problem is Aereo’s channel selection is severely limited to content already broadcast over the air (major networks). It looks like Aereo will strike content deals as Bloomberg is available to paid customers. (Interesting they don’t call them subscribers.) I

      don’t see the major networks getting the previous ruling overturned and I hope not.

  1. (Disclaimer, I work in marketing, but hate 99% of the ads I see on TV)

    Aereo seems to be in the wrong here.

    If the networks have content that is being rebroadcast and the networks are not able to generate ad revenue from the rebroadcast to pay for their shows, why should this be allowed? They’re basically stealing viewers and in the process forcing the networks to create even more invasive ads.

    If things like this keep happening our viewing experience for broadcast TV is going to look like one giant in-product placement.

    1. Seems like you are missing the part where a person can put up a TV antenna and watch Over The Air content. The broadcasters have no idea when or if it happens, they just estimate the size of their audience using stats and demographics.
      Aereo basically puts up an antenna for you and you pay them to maintain it. Nobody is stealing anything. It is not a “rebroadcast” anymore than the OTA signal traveling along a wire to your TV. The ads are still there and the broadcasters audience is now larger than before.

      1. Your argument would hold up well 10 years ago.

        The ad industry of today is built around measurement. The ad industry isn’t interested in the small and dwindling segment of the population that can’t afford to pay for TV.

        Like I said in a previous post, I’m sure Aereo could offer to provide the numbers that the networks and advertisers need, but I don’t know if that was ever brought up as a solution or if it’s too late now.

        TiVo seems to have things worked out, so there’s got to be a reason that Aereo has drawn such ire.

        1. Aereo made essentially that argument in court and won. Looks like this model is within the bounds if the law, even if it’s inconvenient for the networks.

          1. In that case, cable companies will soon have to be released from paying per subscriber fees to OTA broadcasters.

            That will cause a HUGE stink when broadcasters loose THAT revenue.

        2. Measurement is only a tiny fraction of what this is about. They have been gorging on retransmission fee’s, which came way after TV was invented, and which are not part of their OTA transmission licenses, and Aereo’s business model means they don’t have to pay these retransmission fee’s.

          TiVo didn’t make content happy, but for a different reason [they want more money, just because you time-shifted the content, as you still have paid for Cable to get it to your TiVo]. But they have largely neutered TiVo, by encrypting cable channels and limiting the availability of CableCards, and by Cable companies renting dvr’s as part of the cable service.

          1. That’s called competition. Others would bitch if they DIDN’T offer it. You seem to have no grasp of why content is encrypted, so I will just stop there.

            Oh well….

      1. It’s not so much about the ads not being seen, but more about how they measure how many viewers see the ads AND when. In a perfect world, marketers would have the exact numbers/times of people watching what Aereo is rebroadcasting and that would keep everyone happy, but the TV ad industry is still really awful at tracking things it seems (witness the existence of Neilsen boxes).

  2. @bpondo. The signal still carries ads. All they are doing is picking up the signal via an aerial and sending it to you via the net. The net just becomes a virtual cable. The broadcasters are horrified because they charge cable companies to rebroadcast free to air TV and they can see that they will lose that revenue.

    But why should they charge for free to air signals? It means its not free to you if you don’t have an aerial – and lots of people don’t, and can’t, install an aerial, particularly in high density areas.

    This case just exposes another ripoff of the consumer.

  3. I’m with Aereo on this.

    The fundamental flaw with television today is that telecoms like cable, satellite, cellular have all become super rich providing services that a mere decades ago was free or affordable. Today there is no real way to access the internet or television without paying huge fees, penalties, being tied to contracts while having no say is controlling what the industry does until Aereo.

    As of today, I’m reducing the amount of internet access I use in order to lower my monthly costs and then turn that saved money to help feed the hungry as the holidays approach. I thought, one monthly cable or cell phone bill can feed a family somewhere or help the sick. Though I still want internet and television access, I can do with less of it.

    By the way, what about the huge advertising dollars that these companies get? Shouldn’t that subsidize their operating costs any? Steve Jobs was a champion at challenging industry to provide the goods and services to the masses (99¢ iTunes tracks). We need more of those visionary people today.

    1. I agree, the telecoms have completely ripped off the United States and continue to do so more every year, but Aereo seems to be shorting the content providers, not the telecoms.

      TBH, I’d gladly pay 3-5 channels $8 a month to watch their shows directly from an app, that way the content providers like HBO, AMC, etc. get paid directly.

      The government created a monster when they let the telecoms start overcharging for their pipes.

  4. Aereo only gives you signals that are ALREADY FALLING ON YOUR HOUSE.
    They do not let you see channels that are not normally available in your area.
    They do not delete commercials.
    Aereo simply allows people to get the best possible signal for their freely available OTA channels without having to put up ugly antennas, interference from building or mountains or living in the basement of a high rise.
    This is like being able to put up a 100 ft antenna in your yard without ticking off the neighbors. Or buying an antenna on the closest mountain and connecting it to your TV via internet.

    I really, really hope the broadcasters lose this one.

  5. Also, why don’t the local broadcasters offer this already? The data they could capture by offering this service themselves would be worth billions!
    Right now, local broadcasters have NO idea how many people are watching or what they are watching. If they offered an internet stream for their programming, they could precisely track everything by making you sign up with a valid name/address.

    1. I agree. I hate to say it, but we almost need the government to come in and takeover the data pipes that go to our houses, or at least break the monopolies that companies like Comcast are creating.

      The alternative is to allow Google or other scumbag conglomerates to creep in and give us “free” data pipes so they can monetize us on top of the content providers monetization — the latter is welcome to my data since they’re providing me with content in the form of shows.

  6. I remember when Pay TV began. The great promise was TV without ads. Really nice…..for a little while. Now there is just as many ads on Pay TV as on over the air. They start these great things and then wham here come ads and crap. Same thing today with internet. Many things were free, now you want a video of news? Got to watch a 30 second commercial first. Cannot even skip over it like you can with Tivo. Yesterday I was at the service station for gasoline and damned if the pump did not start playing a video ad to entertain me while I filled up. I expect soon checking out at the grocery they will make one watch commercials before you can pay.

  7. What I think, Aero is just a lie. The antennas are so small, as to not be individually functional. They are only to satisfy the letter of the law. The cable companies know this. So the reality is Aero is rebroadcasting content, and provides unused conduit for the bases of it’s existence. I think leasing out antennas, even if legitimately functional, sidesteps the intent of the business.

    The intent, a better measure, is that the person who uses the service, must own the antenna and it must be razed at their residence, functioning like SlingBox.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.