New roll out for the controversial TV service
Aereo is now available in Denver. Somewhere in the metro area is a building with a very tiny array of dime-size television antennas collecting airwaves for dissemination onto the World Wide Web. Realistically, how is this different from an individual in the Denver area having a digital antenna in their residence to collect the signals? i.e., the stuff available on Antennas Direct or at the local Radio Shack (yes! Radio Shack becomes relevant again!)…
CLICK for Radio Shack’s Selection of Antennas
This is precisely the issue the US Supreme Court may decide to rule on – or not, as lower courts’ rulings are not all decided and not as yet at conflict. In fact, there have been three court rulings in favor of Vereo over the past year and a half or so:
New York, NY (July 11, 2012) – Federal Judge Alison J. Nathan issued a ruling in the combined cases pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, American Broadcasting Companies et al. v. Aereo, Inc. Civil Action No. 12-CV-1540 (AJN) and WNET et al. v. Aereo, Inc. Civil Action No. 12-CV-1543 (AJN) in favor of Aereo, denying the plaintiffs, a group of 17 network broadcasters, its motion for a preliminary injunction against Aereo. [LINK to PDF posted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation]
New York, NY (April 1, 2013) – [NOT an April Fools’ Joke…] Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upholds the above ruling (LINK to PDF on Cal-Berkeley Law School website; LINK to Second Circuit Court)
Boston, MA (October 8, 2013) – Federal Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton today issued a ruling in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Hearst Stations Inc. d/b/a WCVB-TV v. Aereo, Inc. Civil Action No. 13-11649-NMG, in favor of Aereo, denying the plaintiff its motion for a preliminary injunction against the company. [LINK to PDF on Beckerman Legal website (Ray Beckerman, P.C., Attorneys at Law)]
CEO Chet Kanojia said about the launch in Denver: “Aereo’s antenna/DVR technology brings the old-fashioned antenna into the 21st Century, providing consumers access to the over-the-air broadcast signals that belong to them [consumers – ed]. Aereo’s technology is a more simple, elegant and easy way to watch television – the way it should be.” Read more in Aereo’s press release here.
Depending on One’s Perspective
Of course, the question of whether this sort of antenna is really different from any other television antenna is only part of the story. The Aereo service is predicated upon two long-standing legal arguments in the United States of (1) free airwaves [perhaps not free in monetary-sense; but rather a rights-sense] and (2) the 1984 Supreme Court Decision in the “Betamax Case” [LINK – Wikipedia] Read a brilliant essay in the Harvard Business Review by Larry Downes.
We’ll see if the Supreme Court takes up the issue… Meanwhile, YouTube is packed with commentary: