Even Hollywood Publications Are Concerned That Aereo Decision Kills Innovation And Harms Consumers

from the time-for-Congress-to-fix-things dept

We've already noted how the Supreme Court's ruling in the Aereo case is a disaster for the technology industry, by using a bizarre "looks like a duck test" that provides no guidance for the tech industry and is going to create a litigation nightmare. Of course, the broadcasters and their supporters in the copyright maximalist world insist that this is all hyperbole and exaggeration -- but it appears that even many of their "friends" agree.

The LA Times is Hollywood's hometown paper, and it frequently supports the industry. However after the ruling, it's released an editorial worrying about the impact on innovation:
There's been plenty of speculation that Aereo could undermine broadcasters by cutting into or even eliminating the substantial fees they collect from cable operators. But then, as Scalia noted, broadcasters said the VCR would be the death of their industry too. By trying to close a legal loophole that technology enabled Aereo to exploit, the court blurred the boundaries around copyrights in a way that will chill investment and innovation. It would have been far better if the court had let Congress respond to a technological change it couldn't have foreseen 38 years ago.
Then jump over to the Hollywood Reporter, the leading trade magazine for Hollywood, and you get a similar analysis that notes the chill on innovation:
Innovators lose because the Aereo decision makes it harder for them to know where the lines are drawn. The court said Aereo – which allowed users to use RS-DVR technology to transmit programs, from a small antenna to a hard drive and thence via packet on the Internet to mobile devices and PCs – was "substantially similar" to a cable system that uses a single big antenna to transmit programs via cables buried in the streets to television sets. The fact that Aereo also resembled an RS-DVR was discarded. With that much elasticity, how does a technologist know whether her brilliant idea too closely resembles a phonograph or player piano roll and therefore runs afoul of some vastly pre-Internet analysis?
That report also notes the harm done to the public:
Consumers lose for the same reason that MVPDs win. High priced cable bills are here to stay, and unbundling remains a distant dream for consumer advocates.
The other big trade publication, Daily Variety, was much more congratulatory towards Hollywood's "victory," but its editor-in-chief penned an analysis piece that warns the networks who hid behind this fight that if they don't want another Aereo to pop up, they need to start innovating themselves.

In other words, pretty much everyone -- even Hollywood's closest observers -- recognize that this ruling was a disaster towards true innovation, and are hoping against hope that these companies that have spent decades fighting innovation will magically start innovating themselves, now that they wiped out the upstart competitors. I wouldn't hold my breath. The purpose of this fight was to kill innovation, and that's not going to spur the networks to innovate. They think they wiped out this threat.

Filed Under: copyright, innovation, supreme court
Companies: aereo


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    Whatever (profile), 28 Jun 2014 @ 12:51am

    Opinions, world cup and pocket lint

    I can say without a doubt I am not shocked to see a fairly high level of whining in the posts about Aereo on Techdirt. The tone is pretty much like fans of a team who lost in the world cup, blaming the pitch, the referee, the wind, the sun, the rain, and whatever outside force they can dream up, without accepting that perhaps their team just sucked.

    There are plenty of opinions online, and not all of them so against the judgement. This one I think is somewhat more balanced:

    http://www.tvnewscheck.com/article/77351/takeaways-from-the-abc-v-aereo-decision

    I think this one is pretty interesting as well:

    http://www.american.com/archive/2014/june/aereo-decision-a-boon-not-a-bane-for-innovation

    Not surprising to see this at SCOTUSBlog, considering it comes from the EFF:

    http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/06/symposium-aereo-decision-injects-uncertainty-into-copyright/

    Wh at I think is important in the Aereo decision is that the court wasn't razzle dazzled by Aereo's attempts to gingerly step around the law, and instead backed up a step and looked at their intent, and what the service provided. They received a signal at point A, and delivered it to customers at various points in the area, pretty much exactly like a cable company. You can call it the "walks like a duck" decision, but really it's more like a good indication that the court isn't going to fall for using technology to try to side step the law.

    In the long run, I think the decision is good for the concept of this business, for a bunch of reasons. 10 years from now, we will look back and realize that it changed the landscape and helped move forward bigger things.

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