Broadcasters Get Aereo Shut Down In Salt Lake City and Denver

from the you-can't-win-'em-all dept

A string of Aereo legal wins has come to an end, with US District Judge Dale Kimball of Utah imposing a preliminary injunction (pdf) on Aereo's existing operations in both Utah and Colorado. The injunction covers all of the 10th circuit, so it will technically prevent any future Aereo operations in all of Wyoming, New Mexico, and Oklahoma as well. Aereo currently operates in ten markets, but in recent weeks has bumped into some unspecified capacity issues in both New York and Atlanta (I've asked, they won't get specific about what kind of capacity issues they've faced).

Kimball wasn't particularly receptive to Aereo's claims that their tiny OTA antennas -- one rented to each Aereo subscriber -- allow the live streaming TV company to bypass the "Transmit Clause" of the 1976 Copyright Act:
"Based on the plain language of the 1976 Copyright Act and the clear intent of Congress, this court concludes that Aereo is engaging in copyright infringement of Plaintiffs’ programs. Despite its attempt to design a device or process outside the scope of the 1976 Copyright Act, Aereo’s device or process transmits Plaintiffs’ copyrighted programs to the public."
Similar legal assaults by the broadcast industry had proven unsuccessful in Boston and New York. Needless to say, broadcasters like Fox were pleased by the result, calling the ruling "a significant win for both broadcasters and content owners" that will "prohibit Aereo from stealing our broadcast signal." Riding on Aereo's New York win by using the Cablevision precedent, the battle now heads to the Supreme Court for the real showdown on April 22. Should Aereo win that, broadcasters could face a number of similar services offered by cable operators eager to bypass soaring retransmission fees.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 12:52am

    prohibit Aereo from stealing our broadcast signal
    How can you "steal" something that's being given away for free?

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Just Sayin', Feb 21st, 2014 @ 1:40am

    Did you buy Techdirt?

    Seriously Karl, did you buy Techdirt? Mike is AWOL and you are piling on the cable / tv / network / content producer hate like there is no tomorrow. Might have worked on your old site, but here it's pretty monotone already.

    Now, as for the story, either way in this process the public ends up losing. If Aereo wins, you can expect a response from the networks that likely won't be positive. That could include moving prime time stuff to cable only (even offering the channels cheaper or even for free to cable and sat companies to distribute), leaving aereo viewers with second string stuff.

    Aereo loses, and the networks will be emboldened to charge more for their programming to distributors, harming the potential process of IPtv and other services offered by third party providers. It is also very likely that the networks will still move forward with more "cable only" programming options, starving off their affiliate stations and going more direct to the distributors.

    Aereo is a catalyst for change, in the same manner that dynamite is for changing a pile of dog crap. No matter what happens, it won't be pretty and nobody will be safe.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Beech, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 2:02am

    Re:

    Damn straight. The TV stations are beaming their junk radiation signals in all directons, as far as they can, 24/7. Aereo is just letting you pick up those signals from really really far away.

     

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  4.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 2:39am

    The insanity! It burns!

    What Fox et al want is just free, easy money. Taking a PUBLIC, FREE signal and making a stream of it should be a no brainer. If they were smart enough they'd offer it on their websites while replacing the ads according to the region of the person watching. But that would require some effort while suing Aereo and wining would mean free, effortless money forever without having to spend their own resources - considering brains is a resource that seems to be inexistent in those places since they are missing a good revenue stream. If Aereo has the financial balls to fight the broadcasters it means they are offering features A LOT of people want. Where are the damn broadcasters jumping in to fill the gap? Nah, money for the lawyers instead.

     

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  5.  
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    Violynne (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 3:48am

    The folks behind Aereo are sly.

    What better way to challenge the ridiculous copyright laws by playing the game to the very rules it sets up.

    I think this was planned from the start.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 4:35am

    Congress intended to prohibit property owners from renting space and equipment? Somehow I doubt it.

     

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  7.  
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    JWW (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 5:32am

    Hey TV Stations and Broadcasters

    I'm so glad you're happy to have won this battle. Please feel free to spout off and trumpet your cause.

    However, do not think for one minute that this doesn't mean that we, your customers, don't realize that if you are truly successful in stopping Aereo all WE will get out of it is higher bills for shittier service.

    We are living in the new age of customer disservice. Long dead is the adage that "the customer is always right". It has been replaced with "have we screwed the customer enough?". And their answer to that one is always NO.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    But it doesn't, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 5:51am

    "Aereo’s device or process transmits Plaintiffs’ copyrighted programs to the public."

    But it doesn't. It only allows the signal to go to *THE paid subscriber*. Emphasis on *THE*. Just like cable TV, or FIOS TV. Well, it is Utah.

     

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  9.  
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    RyanNerd (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 6:18am

    The way around the Stupidity

    I live in Utah. I just tried to sign into my Aereo's account. It brought up a message that I was outside my Market Area or some other such verbiage. I was given a choice to click a box indicating I AM in the Market Area. Once I agreed to this and clicked continue I am able to get to my recordings, view live TV, etc.
    So basically Aereo is getting around this by offering you a link about their TOS (who reads this crap anyway) and a check box acknowledging you are in the service area.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 6:51am

    Re:

    It's simple, you're 'using' their 'resources' up, in this case their broadcast signal!

    It's just like how I managed to get a patent on oxygen, and how I'm dealing with billions of people and animals stealing my property with their lungs!

    Don't you worry though, soon a court will issue an injunction and prevent others from breathing my oxygen! Then those billions of free loaders will have to pay up for consuming my intellectual property!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 7:08am

    "prohibit Aereo from stealing our broadcast signal."

    Lets get something clear. You are not entitled to a government established monopoly on broadcasting spectra. I have just as much a right to transmit anything I want on broadcasting spectra as you do. Just because the government wrongfully steals my right to do so and gives you an exclusive transmission privilege against my interests in favor of your interests doesn't make it right. It's wrong.

    Not only have you wrongfully deprived me of my ability to transmit (which is stealing) you are now further denying me my right to record public signals that cross public space and to do with them what I please. If you don't want your transmissions recorded and used by others then keep them off my property and keep them out of public space. Don't cry to the government, which owes you nothing, for protection.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 7:16am

    Re: Re:

    Cars are a much bigger problem, they use much more oxygen than lungs.

     

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  13.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 7:20am

    Silver lining?

    Given this loss is an outlier so far, with all the rest of Aereo's court cases being solid wins for them, this might actually be for the better.

    A loss at this level, contrasted by the wins elsewhere, would seem to increase the likelihood of the SC taking up the case, given they now have split rulings on the legality, and since the majority of cases so far have been wins for Aereo, that would seem to bode well for their odds when/if the SC finally takes up the case.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 7:36am

    Re: Silver lining?

    It would be for the better only if the public puts a ton of public pressure on the courts to legislate in the public interest if and once they do take on the case.

    Then again, courts really should be ruling based on what the law says. We should put pressure on Congress to pass laws in the public interest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    ahow628 (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re:

    Prior art: Trees!

    Patent denied!

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 8:09am

    fart on an elevator .. sue everyone who smelled it for infringement. after all, you are what you eat right.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 8:38am

    so the court yet again stifles innovation and prevents the implementation of new technology while doing it's normal thing of aiding and abetting a legacy industry and stop it from having to actually innovate itself and adapt to the digital age, pleasing customers along the way! what a ridiculous load of imbeciles are sitting on judges benches. they dont understand the technology, dont bother to update themselves or their knowledge so go down the same road as the incumbent industries and walk along in front, waving a red flag! pathetic!!

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 8:49am

    Re:

    Kimball is no idiot and well able to handle technical matters. He was the original (?) judge on SCO vs IBM. When I read it I thought he was setting up for appeal but Aereo declined it because they are already going to the Supreme Court.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re:

    Maybe he is otherwise tech savy but just because he was the original judge on SCO VS IBM hardly makes him tech savy.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Tom, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 9:35am

    Re: The way around the Stupidity

    Aereo is still working for me here in SLC area. Terrible ruling and to think this is the same judge who presided over the SCO v. IBM case.

     

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  21.  
    icon
    RyanNerd (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: The way around the Stupidity

    Q: What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 50?
    A: Your Honor.
    Q: What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of a turnip?
    A: Senator.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 10:23am

    Re:

    fart on an elevator .. sue everyone who smelled it for infringement.

    No. It was a public fart, and only those in the local vicinity smelled it (intended audience, along with the standard commercials of yelling "Fire in the Hole" or blaming others by saying, "Those who smelt it, dealt it").

    In reality, where these innocent bystanders will get into trouble is when they re-trasmit the fart later. As we all know, "Any rebroadcast, reproduction, or other use of the pictures and accounts of this fart without the express written consent of the original fartcaster is prohibited."

    I don't know how fair use would play out if such a case was brought before a court, but it could all depend on how much of the original copyrighted fart you used, and how many bean burritos the judge had for lunch.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    vastrightwing, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 11:34am

    I guess I'm a thief

    Since I have my own antenna, that makes me a thief. I essentially "steal" signals from the air. I put a cable after my antenna to my TVs. Yes, that's right, I'm using a single antenna for more than one TV. Is this legal? Now, how long of a cable am I allowed to have? How many TVs can I hook up to a single antenna?

    That Marconi guy really did a bad thing making it possible to steal from content creators. And we think he's an innovator. Tisk, tisk.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 11:44am

    Re: I guess I'm a thief

    That's still a single household.

    On my building, a single antenna has its signal split between many households.

    Yes, the signal splitters on the antenna cable are duplicating the signal from a single antenna to many people.

    But then, I don't live in the USA.

     

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  25.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: I guess I'm a thief

    "That's still a single household"

    And still no different than Aereo, where every household gets its own antenna.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Feb 21st, 2014 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That was the first time. He was successful after a few more tries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2014 @ 6:56pm

    Re:

    horse with no name just hates it when due process is enforced.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Feb 23rd, 2014 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Patent filer: Right, went back, made a few changes, and here's my new patent for using oxygen on the internet, which also covers non-internet use of oxygen.

    Patent examiner: Using oxygen on the internet? That's doesn't make any freakin' sense!

    Filer: I said 'on the internet'.

    Examiner: Oh fine, patent approved, but only because you used the magic words.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Christopher Blair, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 8:30am

    Aereo shutdown

    Let me start off by saying that I am a broadcaster, although as a LPTV broadcaster I operate on the margins, having a tough time getting by for lack of cable carriage. I operate airing content such as HSN, Jewelry TV, and other assorted shopping channels; in addition we program (ourselves, not through a service) a couple of channels doing old movies and we do a country music channel as well as a Jazz/contemporary music channel with changing landscape slides (actually very popular). We use the money from shopping to subsidize our other programming.

    The thing that gets lost on most people is that if you are a broadcaster, nothing is "free". Many posters keep harping about the "peoples airwaves", as if we live in some society where everything should be free. Any person posting on these message boards can apply for a broadcast license the same way I did, by hiring an engineer and filing an application. The thing is it costs money for an engineer and an attorney. After you have filed with the FCC and if you are lucky enough to get a construction permit (CP) that allows you to build a station, you still have to spend money for equipment, tower rent, etc. If I offered a CP to build a TV station to anyone on this board, I don't think I would have many takers, for the expense comes after you have acquired your free spectrum.

    The way the government makes money is via yearly business taxes, on the business itself and if the station is sold to another party.

    In my opinion Aereo is nothing more than a clever cable operator, taking "free" TV signals and rebroadcasting them, and charging a monthly fee. Sounds like Comcast to me.

    One final thing, broadcasters would love to take full advantage of their digital legacy but the FCC prohibits this application by not allowing broadcasters to operate using alternate modulation schemes (such as OFDM, cellular technology). If allowed this privilege, consumers would win through innovative uses of spectrum, such as wireless last-mile solutions and ubiquitous Wi-Fi.

    So, while it is easy to demonize broadcasters be careful what you wish for. If that 'free' spectrum is no longer "free", but "owned" by AT&T and Verizon, et al, then you will be paying for what was "free" over-the-air (OTA) TV via your monthly wireless bill.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2014 @ 8:10am

    Re: Did you buy Techdirt?

    horse with no name just loathes it when due process is enforced.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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