I've had a number of tunerless media recorders before this that are capable
of supporting internal SATA/PATA drives as well as the USB externals and I
can say unequivocally that external drive support is far more useful. You
can easily detach the drive, back it up or as I do, distribute the
recordings to the in-home media network. One drive for movies, another for
episodic TV, etc.
External drive support is far more valuable, at least to me. Eliminating
internal drive support makes the media box both smaller and *way* cheaper to
produce as a result. Thirty six bucks for a device capable of recording HD
TV from free OTA broadcasts is a bit of a miracle compared to the $100-$150
*tunerless* standard density boxes I've used before. Admittedly they had
more features like an ethernet port and the ability to record a composite
video signal, but that's nowhere near as useful as a built in ATSC tuner
that has a program guide and HD quality recordings. The Mediasonic box even
has composite, component and RF outputs making it compatible with my network
of old SD TV's throughout the house that serve as a front door video
I can scan the electronic program guide, selecting what I want to record in
the next few days with a couple of clicks. Removable media also means you
don't have to do the TIVO shuffle when the disk is full and you either have
to watch, erase or archive old recordings to make space. Now I just mount
another $50 external USB disk and I am back to recording. The biggest
downside is that now instead of getting 1 hour per gig at SD resolution it
takes 5GB per HD hour. With 3 and 4 TB disks on the market, that's not
really an issue since the USB port seems able to supply enough power to run
even the USB bus-powered drives. I believe from what I've read it also can
support multiple drives through a powered USB hub, but I have yet to test
While it's still a little bit buggy (latest firmware is V.14), the ability
to record in HD for $36 bucks (and the cost of an external drive, which many
of us have anyway) is really a quantum leap. I don't know why Panasonic,
Polaroid and many others have left the DVR/PVR market, but I suspect the
content providers have made it clear that they want to control any kind of
recording by end-users.
That's a good point. For some Sportacus types even a 4" screen that allows
them to watch a championship game would be a draw. But I suspect you're
right that content providers want to control that signal as well, and OTA
reception of such telecasts is not what their business models want to
stress. Burning up data minutes seems to be what they would prefer to free
Each year Comcast takes away more and more channels that I like and replaces
them with crap that's cheap for them to buy. When they dropped Turner
Classic Movies that was the final straw. I decided then to "cut the cord"
and go with OTA, Netflix and the free streaming that comes from Amazon
There's always a tendency to characterize new technology in terms of
existing stuff. It's a lot like CATV but then again, it's not. (-" That's
one reason why courts have been ruling differently on the subject and why
it's risen to a dispute in front of the Supremes. Will nine judges who
basically live in a bubble and have "people" to do all of the mundane things
like computer maintenance and technology management be able to make the
right call here? I have my very serious doubts.
Of course this is where the "rub" comes in? Once it's put out on the public
airwaves for free, does the OTA signal regain rights it didn't really have
AS an OTA signal?
I'm not sure that view is consistent with the Court's view in the
Cablevision case. Yes, OTA broadcasters have been getting retransmission
fees, but that's been a voluntary arrangement and not necessarily one that
controls in all cases. Aereo was careful to use separate "antennalets" for
each customer in an attempt to maintain the concept that the end user is
receiving an OTA broadcast through a signal antenna specific to that user.
I think dissenter Denny Chin called it a fiction (or maybe it was an end
run) but he basically agreed with your contention that it's exactly like
CATV - except that system does not provide antennas on a one-to-one basis so
it is, technically speaking, slightly different. Aereo and Barry Diller are
betting/hoping the distinction is enough (and it has been in lower courts)
to set it apart, legally speaking, from CATV.
Citation? My understanding was very strongly that this would ADD eyeballs,
especially from the people who get lousy local reception of OTA signals. I
think it's a much more important consideration in the age of DTV. With
analog you could tolerate a snowy or ghosted image if you *really* wanted to
watch something OTA with bad reception.
With DTV, bad reception usually means severe pixelation or complete dropouts
for seconds at a time. That's unwatchable in my book, and those are the
people that Aereo is bringing to the stations who are complaining
vociferously about a loss that they really can't quantify. Yes, CATV
companies pay for retransmission but I am not sure that means anyone that
re-transmits an OTA signal *has* to pay as well. That may be the real fear
here - that if Aereo breaks down that paradigm that the CATV operators will
push to end retransmission fees and succeed.
I was generalizing to point out that parties often come to court predicting
horrible and dire consequences if the court doesn't side with them. Just as
often, it seems, those predictions are not only wrong, but totally wrong.
The collapse of the broadcast TV industry posited by the plaintiffs in Aereo
is a lot like what the plaintiffs in Betamax said - "this will be the end of
us" but of course, it wasn't. It was the beginning of a huge new revenue
source that dwarfed the money they were getting from ads. Yes, the concept
of "aftermarket" doesn't directly apply in Aereo. However it's
well-established that broadcasters put out an advertiser supported signal to
be viewed by as many potential clients of those advertisers as possible.
Except now they don't seem to really want as many viewers as possible, they
want retransmission fees (which have caused some serious battles in recent
years) for doing nothing. Wouldn't we all like to collect fat fees for
doing nothing. That's the crux of this case.
I respectfully submit that the US Court of Appeals decided it wasn't. A bad
analogy would be that the signal, once broadcast, is like putting your
garbage at the curb and complaining that someone took it and sold it for
scrap and they should give you a cut. Now I am not saying American Idol is
garbage. Wait, maybe I am. (-:
It's a little like saying we're going to kill the goose that lays golden
eggs because the eggs aren't quite as big as they used to be. The horror.
Most of the indepedent stores who resell get a cut, I would think that
adds up to serious bucks with absolutely no outlay for Apple. It isn't
like Mom&Pop cellular where they have to get a store, advertise, etc.
Selling iPhones for the companies has to be pretty much all profit for
Apple. If Radio Shack and Best Buy want Sprint, Verizon, etc., "stores"
inside of their stores, Apple would have to be at least as profitable.
My other guess is that they just like the control.
"Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive,
but what they conceal is vital."
Yabbut . . . The pundits were so sure that the ACA would be nixed by the
court that news outlets actually announced that it was - and then had to
issue retractions. Aereo's had some significant wins in the lower courts so
I wouldn't write them off just yet.
It ain't over until it's over.
On Friday, April 25, 2014 5:22:58 PM UTC-4, Robert Green wrote:
I agree you can't predict what the court will do. Even regarding the ACA,
it isn't over yet. It seems Roberts with his supposedly genius reinvention
of the Obamacare penalty as a tax, may have been the one that ultimately
screwed it. A case is now making it way through the courts challenging
the ACA because it involved a tax and all revenue bills must originate in
the House, which ACA did not. It's pretty clear that's blatantly
unconstitutional. But then maybe this time Roberts can rule that the
House isn't the House, but something else.
A lot depends on just finding the right angle, which some smart folks just
did with affirmative action. This time, it's pretty much over. Opponents figured out that when the people pass a law outlawing discrimination and the Constitution clearly says you can't discriminate based on race, it's
impossible to rule that is unconstitutional. At least it was obvious to
everyone but the few that don't care what the Constitution says, eg
Sotamayor. "Well affirmative action helped me, look where I am, so it's cool
I'm all for it." Doesnt matter that she got special treatment by discriminating
against some white or asian that had similar background, achievements and the
same qualifications. Bye, bye affirmative action. If a law ending it passed
by 58% in Michigan, similar laws can and will pass in most other states.
There's a lot more to it than that. An important point to remember about
the exorbitant retransmission fees that OTA broadcasters exact from the
cable TV companies is that they do NOT go to the copyright holders, but to
the TV stations. That really muddies the water of copyright infringement
claims because the actual copyright holders are not really in the loop.
When Congress gave broadcasters the choice of compelling the local cable
service to retransmit their signals at no cost, or compelling compensation
in exchange for consent to retransmit, it was regulating commerce and
communications, not copyrights.
There is no unfairness or free-riding here because the public has no
obligation to pay for access to local broadcast signals. Members of the
public are *entitled* to watch and hear any over-the-air broadcast
programming that they are capable of receiving. It is that simple. The
copyright owner has no right to control who may join the audience. This is
a little like the Bundy case in that a smoke-screen's going up meant to
cloud the underlying issue: Broadcasters want money from Aereo like they
get from Comcast and others.
CATV companies *could* have retransmitted broadcast signals without paying
for them, but the Congressional catch was that then they could not *charge*
users for them either. The CATV companies realized it would mean more
profit if they paid broadcasters and charged users for the content. And
charge them they did!
This is part and parcel of broadcasters enjoying the right to use the
*publicly owned* broadcast spectrum. In the Betamax decision, it was
further decided that people had the right to record OTA broadcast for
viewing at a later time. Aereo has compared the installation of a TV aerial
on your roof (that might need a rotor to work well) and the ownership of a
DVR to record from your antenna to leasing that equipment and maintenance
thereof from them.
In the urban canyons where Aereo flourishes it's usually not even possible
to mount an external antenna. If you're on the "shadow side" of a old
building with plaster lathe construction, you don't even get a signal. I
know Kurt takes exception to this concept, but stop and think about it.
Would anyone pay for Aereo if they could get a good OTA signal *without*
paying for it?
Why would Aereo even work as a business model if the people that purchased
their service could just as easily use rabbit ears? Unfortunately it's been
well-established in urban areas that not everyone who is legally entitled to
OTA broadcasts can actually receive them.
<<New York is also logical launch pad for the service, since it solves
over-the-air reception problems inherent to New York's urban canyon
The question actually revolves around the definition of public and private
If you buy a DVD of a movie, you have the right to watch it in your home;
that is considered a private performance. You are not allowed to play that
DVD in a theater and charge for tickets; that is considered a public
performance and is a violation of the copyright. Since OTA (Over-the-air)
TV broadcasts are free to air, it means you are entitled to watch it
privately without charge. You are also allowed to record it, say to a VCR,
and watch it later according to the Betamax decision of years ago.
Aereo's argument is that it does not transmit to many people at once. It
transmits to you, individually, from your antenna, through your cloud
service, into your computer for your viewing only.
This, Aereo argues, constitutes a private performance.
You are controlling the content privately as you would from your roof
antenna. Aereo merely leases an antenna and a DVR to you. It's then both an
equipment leasing company and a cloud storage service. Neither of those
things are illegal to operate. This is why cloud-centric companies have
filed amicus briefs on behalf of Aereo. They could be profoundly affected
by a negative SC decision.
Aereo argues there is no difference between its service and having your own
antenna to watch free TV. On its side are previous court rulings between
Cartoon Network and Cablevision. These cases established that playing
individual recordings of television (via DVR or cloud storage) was a
private, not a public, performance. This distinction is why the lower
courts have affirmed Aereo's business model.
Of course, litigants in that case were paying a license fee to transmit
content which Aereo does not pay. That's why OTA broadcasters are hopping
mad. They want what cable companies pay them from Aereo. But again,
there's a difference. Broadcasters can (and have) used some very bitter
blackouts to force CATV companies to pay them.
That's not so easy to do with Aereo's one antenna per viewer without
blocking out all the non-Aereo users as well. They have far less leverage
to compel Aereo to pay the fees they charge CATV companies. That's because
they can't blackout the last episode of "Breaking Bad" or a championship
tournament (as they've done in the past) to extort larger fees.
On Aereo's side is the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. That's
the second-highest federal court in the country and it ruled 2-1 in favor of
Aereo, deciding the company's offerings were essentially an off-site DVR and
should not be considered public performance.
The dissenting judges in Utah and at the 2nd USCA2ndC believe, as you do,
that Aereo is commercially retransmitting these performances on a wide
scale. They believe whether Aereo uses one or thousands of antennas that
Aereo is retransmitting copyrighted programs to the public.
While analysts are trying hard to predict an eventual unfavorable decision
based on the hard questions the Supremes have been asking, that's risky.
They've been very hard on the side that eventually prevails in any number of
past cases, so it's just fortune telling to call the case this soon.
Besides, at almost every step in Aereo's existence, the pundits were saying
that they would never win any of the lower courts cases that they eventually
did, one by one. I'd like to see them win just to see if ABC, etc. will
really abandon OTA broadcasting as a result. Betcha they won't! (-: If I
were them, I'd be very wary of tell the Supremes they would cut their noses
off to spite their faces if they are rules against.
It's a fascinating case because it draws on so many precedents and quirks in
Federal law. I think that in the end, the broadcasters will end up reaching
more local viewers through Aereo than they could before. That means they'll
be able to claim higher viewership and will be able to charge more for ads.
Once they see those numbers on paper, they'll retract their horns and
grudingly accept the higher ad rates. (-:
On Sunday, April 27, 2014 7:51:35 AM UTC-4, Robert Green wrote:
Because when someone is sitting in Starbucks, in a stadium, or at the
office with their cell phone or tablet, they don't have a TV and antenna
are some examples.
Unfortunately it's been
Whatever the issue ultimately revolves around, there are indeed legal
issues that say you can't receive material OTA then put it on a cable and
send it off to other folks. That was my point. The poster claimed one
could do that.
Actually, I don't have a dog in this fight. My point was only that there
is something stopping one from putting up an antenna, receiving broadcast
TV and retransmitting it to other people's homes.
The same more viewers equals more ad revenue applies to OTA being
retransmitted on cable. Yet the broadcasters managed to get them to
HBO discovered that more people were downloading "Game of Thrones" than
there should be which they attributed to a great deal of "password sharing"
among HBO subscribers and their friends.
For every tall wall, there's a taller ladder.
It really *isn't* serving as a cable system in some very important legal
ways. For one, every user has his own antenna, his own DVR and his own copy
of what was recorded. That differs substantially (legally speaking) from a
CATV system (particularly their DVR components). The CATV systems take one
copy of say "House of Cards" and stream in to 1,000's of people. Aereo
makes a distinct and separate copy of anything that a user/viewer selects.
If 100 Aereo users record "The Big Bang Theory" then there will be 100
distinct "private" copies of that show stored on Aereo's servers:
The above article has some fascinating photos of an Aereo "server farm" and
tries to explain how various clauses of the laws concerning retransmission
apply. They also reiterate what I've been saying all along:
<< In the transition to fully digital broadcast signals in 2009, the Federal
Communications Commission drew up maps that indicated where, if consumers
followed the necessary steps, a proper antenna above a dwelling should be
able to pick up TV broadcasts. As Kanojia and Lipowski made their own map of
New York's broadcast signals, they found big holes. - - - It's striking to
me," Lipowski said, describing missing signals at many places around the
city, no more than a few miles from the current broadcast center on the
Empire State Building. "You would not get the channels that the FCC said you
should be able to receive. ... It was just gone, you could no longer receive
television signals, you had to do something different. That's not
fair." - - - Lipowski and Kanojia found their signal sweet spot at the
Brooklyn building, a location with direct line of sight with the Empire
State Building and One World Trade Center, which will become NYC's
broadcasting tower next year.>>
So despite what some people are saying here, there are some serious "dead
spots" in large cities that mean people entitled to receive OTA for free
can't do so. Aereo remedies that situation. The lower courts and the
Federal Court of Appeals have both agreed with that assessment.
The article below is one of the best of dozens I've read when it comes to
explaining why Aereo has prevailed in most cases leading up to the current
one before the Supremes:
<<Aereo's legal argument relies heavily on a case that cable provider
Cablevision won over the media companies in 2008, allowing it to offer
network DVR, the same cloud-based system that Aereo is using to record,
store and deliver over-the-air broadcasts. The Supreme Court declined to
hear an appeal of the Cablevision case the following year, and these
cloud-based services have been trucking along ever since.>>
The CNET article rightly points out that it's the consumer that's been
paying the hefty fees that broadcasters have extracted from the CATV
<<Aereo charges $8 a month for its cheapest package -- less than half the
$20.55 average price for a basic pay-TV service package in 2012, and far
below the $61.63 price for the package tier most people buy, according to
the Federal Communications Commission. . . . At first glance, Aereo looks
similar to a cable or satellite company. Yet Aereo doesn't pay, and lower
courts have largely supported its argument that it shouldn't have to. The
trick is this: Aereo specifically developed its technology to enable private
performances, the kind that are free of copyright concerns. Every customer
has an individual tiny antenna that he or she controls, and every antenna
makes a dedicated recording of the programming. By that rationale, Aereo
isn't infringing because these aren't public performances.>>
That's pretty funny considering how they've rolled over like an industry
lapdog concerning net neutrality.
However, if the intention of Congress was that everyone should be able to
receive free OTA, the physics of the matter are entirely different. I've
read that Aereo does not stream content beyond the area normally reached by
OTA's broadcast towers, nor do they permit users to stream the content
they've recorded outside that area. They serve only the area that OTA is
meant to serve but for technical reasons often can't.
Essentially, they are providing a conduit for the signal to people who can't
receive it. They're not cutting out the advertising that supports the
broadcast OTA model, either. That's why lower courts have said these are
private performances that allow users to exercise their rights to receive
free OTA broadcasts even though they might not be able to because their
location precludes receiving the free signal. Aereo enables them to receive
what Congress decided was their right to receive even though geographic
circumstance did not allow it.
But that's the rub. You keep saying that they can "still get it for free"
but that's simply not the case. If they live in a "shadow zone" they can't
receive the OTA broadcasts that they are entitled to. Aereo uses technology
to remedy that situation. Congress allowed broadcasters the right to demand
fees because CATV is a one-to-many operation, and thus a public performance.
They also wanted to insure the health of the OTA industry by encouraging
CATV operators to retransmit local TV channels.
Aereo has been quite scrupulous in maintaining the private performance
model, hence if 1,000 Aereo subscribers have recorded "American Idolator"
<g> then Aereo creates 1,000 individual copies of that show whereas Comcast will retransmit from a single copy. That's an *extremely* important legal
nuance as it pertains to existing communications law.
Remember, the copyright holder is out of this loop. They don't make an
extra dime, even if Aereo is eventually compelled to pay retransmission
fees. That's why this is a commerce and not a copyright case. The
copyright holder is barely considered in all of this. Essentially
broadcasters want ti have their cake and be able to eat it too. They want
to use the public airwaves but still be able to charge fees even considering
the enormous value of free RF spectrum. I say, too bad, so sad. I don't
want to pay more fees. Go pound sand, ABC et. al. or bribe Congress once
again to change the law in your favor. Good luck with that considering the
current "do nothing" Congress.
I am equally sure you're wrong. I would invite you to prove your contention
because it runs counter to the dozens of articles I've read concerning the
matter. It's pretty well known to urban dwellers like me that big cities
like New York have a very large number of "dead spots" where OTA broadcasts
simply aren't accessible. A citation or two would be nice. (-:
In my location the DTV channel list on the north facing TV's (with "paddle"
antennas that mount on windows) is substantially different than the channel
lists on the south facing or west or east facing antennas.
Remind me again, what large city do you and HomeGuy live in that makes you
so sure that everyone in those cities has perfect reception? (-: I've
lived in NYC and Washington, DC and I can assure you, reception of even DTV
signals is a hit or miss proposition depending on your location and the type
of aerial you're able to use. It's the reason I still pay $16 a month to
Comcast for basic cable. I just can't bring in the large number of local
OTA channels that Congress says I should be able to using an aerial.
Therefore I subscribe to basic cable but I'd much rather have Aereo and it's
built it DVR for $8 a month. If the retransmission fees went to copyright
holders, I might feel different but they don't.
Don't you agree the OTA model is funded by advertising? And that the more
people that see a broadcast, the better for both the station and its
advertiser? If Aereo brings in local viewers who would not be able to see
the OTA signal, isn't that good for them? So why are they whining so much?
It's simply because they'd like to get some of those hefty retransmission
fees from Aereo, too. And then Aereo would have to raise their rates to
customers to pay them. I don't want to pay anymore for cable. We're a
laughing stock compared to the rest of the world in what we pay for CATV and
internet access and I am tired of getting gouged by monopolistic CATV and
The chart midway down the page shows how badly Americans are being screwed.
For the similar services (the popular three service bundle) you'd pay
$14.52 in Seoul
$29.96 in Zurich
$33.52 in Berlin
$34.87 in Paris and a whopping
$112.50 in Washington, DC.
That's just outrageous. It's the power of monopoly/duoply in a country
that's basically abandoned regulating monopolistic business enterprises.
It's pretty damn obvious that Joe Consumer takes it in the shorts as a
This is from the amicus brief of Consumer's Union and CFA:
<< Cable and satellite services assert that they offer consumers local
broadcast programming at affordable rates, but these packages do not offer a
single additional feature beyond the local programming itself. Consumers
with these "basic service" packages pay low rates mandated by statute, but
do not have the option to pay a reasonable additional charge to obtain only
the time- and placeshifting technology that Aereo provides. Instead,
consumers are forced into costly higher-tier "bundles" of programming and
services in order to obtain subscription packages with the other major
television providers that include some Aereo-like features cost between
$45.99 and $85.89 per month.>>
(There's a reason Comcast is one of the most profitable but lowest customer
rated businesses in America. They have a virtual monopoly in most of the
areas they serve. Isn't it odd how in areas served by both FIOS and Comcast
the bundles cost *exactly* the same?)
<<These prices stand in stark contrast to the $8 per month that Aereo
charges for its choice enabling technology. Consumers should not be forced
to pay inflated costs for channels they do not want in order to use
innovative technologies. Nor are the potential benefits of Aereo's
technology restricted to the individual consumers who choose to subscribe.
The technology also has the potential to benefit broadcasters by making
their programming more attractive by empowering consumers to manage it on
their own terms. This change could dramatically increase the net viewership
of OTA broadcasts. Broadcasters would be able to reach viewers they might
not otherwise due to the Aereo technology's time-shifting capabilities.>>
Why would they want to actually provide a service when the law gives them a
gravy train that's powered by higher costs to consumers? What a deal for
the broadcasters! I'd like to get me some of that free money! Remember
when CATV showed very few commercials? Now, not only do we get to pay
higher and higher rates each year, we get less and less content and more and
more advertising. That's just not fair but because CATV's are basically
monopolies, there's little anyone can do about it.
<<The FCC has noted that horizontal competition within the television market
is nearly nonexistent. See Annual Assessment of Competition, supra note 21,
at 10512 ("As a general rule, the geographic footprint of a cable [provider]
rarely overlaps the geographic footprint of another cable [provider]. As
such, cable [providers] rarely compete with one another for the same video
subscriber. The situation is similar for telephone [providers].").>>
I, for one, support Aereo because I am tired of getting reamed year after
year by Comcast who ups the rate and decreases the number of *good* channels
every year. What really pisses me off is that the DoJ seems to be seriously
considering allowing Comcast and Time-Warner to merge. That's just what
America needs, fewer competitive choices in an already uncompetitve market.
Well, you're entitled to your opinion even if it's wrong but it's important
to note that a number of courts have disagreed with you. And I do, too.
(-: Aereo is simply providing a way for people to see what they are legally
entitled to receive (free OTA) but can't due to geographic constraints. It
provides broadcasters with more viewers which in any other circumstances
seems to be exactly what they want.
Broadcasters are just hopping mad that Aereo might have found a way out of
the windfall "free money retransmission payments" that Congress allowed them
to extract from CATV operators. They're even more afraid that just as
Congress gave them a retransmission fees windfall, it could wave its
money-grubbing little hands and take it away.
If there's any theft involved, it's the law that allowed for such payments
in the first place. Another well-intentioned law passed by Congress that
screwed the very people it alleged to protect, namely the citizen trying to
exercise his right to watch free TV. Remember, OTA broadcasts use a very
valuable public commodity, the radio spectrum.
Broadcasters, like Clive Bundy, seem to believe that the use of that public
asset is their God given right and not a privilege that can be revoked if
Congress so chooses. I'd just love to see them make good on their threat to
stop broadcasting if they lose and give up the public spectrum they've been
using to make boatloads of money. Yeah, that'll happen. When pigs fly.
On Monday, April 28, 2014 10:47:01 AM UTC-4, Robert Green wrote:
But how exactly does Aero control that? AFAIK, all they could do is
go by zipcode, address, etc when you establish your account. But how
do they know people aren't openly exchanging their account with friends
anywhere who want to watch say NYC or LA stations?
That's *part* of it. You seem to be making the assumption that the
usage model is just on a TV or PC within a fixed household location
that can't receive TV with an antenna.
But with Aero, you could watch it on your cell phone or tablet anywhere
there is wifi or cell phone data access. And if it's just people who
can't receive via a TV antenna, it's a very small market. People who
don't have sat or cable are a small part of the TV market today to begin
They're not cutting out the advertising that supports the
And if turns out that Aero can do this, then the cable companies could
do the same thing, thereby depriving the OTA broadcasters of their huge
revenue streams. The cable company just needs to put up a similar
farm of wee little antennas like Aero has.
But if Aero prevails, there is nothing stopping the cable companies
from doing the same thing Aero does, the next day and stopping payment
to the OTA broadcasters. More likely, they would use it as a real threat
to drive down the payments they make to the broadcasters.
I'd be interested in seeing how the profits of the cable companies
actually compare to other businesses. If the comparison with other
countries is fair and square, then the cable companies should have
outrageous profit margins. I bet they aren't far out of line with
other businesses. And I'll bet that in those other countries with
low monthly rates, it's partly because the govts there are subsidizing
part of the infrastructure costs.
They didn't say in the article I read but I assume it's easy enough to do.
Besides, it's FREE OTA TV - why would someone want to steal it? It's not
like we're talking about "Game of Thrones" or "Breaking Bad."
I'm going to bet they have some methodology and that the incidence of NYC
people wanting to watch LA TV is pretty darn low. I'll bet data latency and
the number of hops it takes to reach the user's device would give them some
clues. But even if there's "exchanging" how exactly is an
advertising-sponsored TV broadcast hurt by being exposed to more viewers and
potential customers of the advertisers? In court, to recover damages, you
have to show an injury. Where's the injury and to whom here?
Mostly I am refuting the contention that everyone in New York City, etc. can
get perfect reception with rabbit ears. I'll readily agree there are many
other different reasons to have an Aereo account. But there's nothing Aereo
does that we couldn't do ourselves with a PVR and a PC on the net. Make what
they did illegal and a lot of things that are perfectly legal for private
viewers to do now will be in jeopardy - a sentiment expressed by Justice
The Betamax case long ago established that mechanisms like the VCR that
hadn't been invented when the TV broadcast system was created were
nonetheless legal to use. It's a transmission you're entitled to receive
for free "placeshifted" to a different location and/or time. That seems to
be legal, according to many experts in the field. It's important to
remember that a lot of rules and regulations came with the award of free
public RF spectrum to TV broadcasters - something they seem eager to forget.
You can bet if they could figure a way to charge you for each person that
views their transmission on your TV, they would. Fortunately Federal law
precludes that with the private/public performance test.
Got any citations? I have no idea what part of the market they comprise but
the problem of bad reception surfaces again and again in amicus briefs, news
articles and Aereo's PR materials. I have to assume it's a legitimate
problem but I couldn't say what percent of their customers chose it for that
reason. It's not so unbelievable because *many* people subscribe to basic
cable which is basically OTA channels retransmitted. I'm one of them.
That is something I know to be true, but what the CAT/SAT people fear is
that Aereo is enough for some people to be willing to cut the cord on the
other services. If I had it, I might ditch Comcast basic because Aereo
provides mostly the same channels (I'd lose public access, WGN and C-Span)
AND a DVR plus streaming for $8. If I am willing to wait, Netflix usually
has anything else I want and for far less than it would cost via cable.
What interests me more is that in the markets where Aereo operates, cable
rates have fallen dramatically. The effect of *true* competition. For that
reason alone (although there are many others) I hope Aereo prevails. There
are remarkably few viable alternative to CATV and internet in many markets
except for one or two providers. Only big cities typically offer more than
two or three. That's not enough competition to have a positive effect for
consumers. They're stuck in a "take or leave it" mode.
That may, in the end, be exactly what happens should the court decide for
Aereo. The laws concerning this are immensely complicated and as you said
elsewhere, a valid loophole is often good enough to force the Supremes to
rule in a way people didn't expect. The problem is that I believe the cable
companies are defined specifically in the law and would have to pay anyway.
I haven't (nor will I!) read the 500 page law that covers just one aspect of
this case to find out.
I think it's very possible that the Supremes will have to let Aereo live not
for themselves, but because a ruling against them could seriously upset many
well-established cloud-based systems. They often do such things with an
admonition to Congress to rewrite the laws in a more specific (and sometimes
more constitutional) way. The decision's a long way off because it's such a
complicated one and even the Clinton appointees on the bench, reputed to be
the Court's IP and copyright specialists, don't see eye to eye. I think
Congress erred with retransmission fees and those chickens are coming home
to roost in the Aereo case.
On Monday, April 28, 2014 1:45:43 PM UTC-4, Robert Green wrote:
What makes you think it's easy to control where one watches via the
internet? They obviously can't stop you from giving access to your
friends in LA, so they can watch NY, etc. In fact, one of the whole
selling points of Aero was that you can watch what you'd normally
watch with an antenna anywere you go, eg you can watch NYC while on
vacation in Europe.
So they can watch the OTA locals from some other city where they
don't live. How many people want to do that, IDK. But apparently
it's a key thing that is illegal if you do it and the broadcasters have
their shorts in a knot over it. Otherwise Aero would just allow anyone
to sign up to watch NYC from anywhere. As I understand it and I think
you agree, Aero won't let you do that. And I say there is no real way to
control what one is apparently allowed to do versus what they can do.
If you live in LA, you can't sign up to watch OTA NYC via Aero. But
if I sign up in NYC, and my buddy signs up in LA, then we can share
access and easily do what it's apparently illegal to do and there is
now way Aero can stop it.
IDK which laws apply, what the penalties are. But
obviously Aero is worried about it being a real problem, or they would
let someone in LA or Europe sign-up to watch NYC.
I agree 100% with that.
I'll readily agree there are many
Maybe, but it depends on what specific points the ruling relies on.
I don't think it's that simple. You could view the OTA signal going into
a cable system as just being placeshifted, but somehow the cable companies
lost that one and are paying huge fees to the broadcasters to put on their
cable what you can watch for free with an antenna.
It's important to
When the switch to ATSC was taking place, there was concern about how
many people might not be able to receive it, so there was discussion about
how many it might affect, etc. There was only about 15% of TV viewers
who were receiving via antenna at that time. If that's the total, you'd
have to believe that the number who would want to just receive that but
can't with just an antenna is likely to be just a few perecent of the market.
That could still be a business model for Aero, but it's not much of the
total market. I haven't seen any breakdown on what percent of cable
customers just get the minimal OTA type package.
Part of that is there are some people who could put up an antenna, but
because of where they are located, it's not easy. Maybe it takes a roof
antenna, and they are in a rental. Maybe they are in an apt and the apt
only has cable, etc. But there are also roadblocks to Aero. If I sign
up for Aero, I'm sure I can instantly watch it on my PC. But how do
I get it to my 50" TV? I guess you can stream it via Roku or something,
but it's another challenge to figure out for someone that has cable access
that already works.
Interesting. I saw cable companies were on your list of folks before the SC,
but which side are they on? I would have thought they might be on the side
of Aero, hoping that the SC would nullify the ability of the broadcasters to
charge them for sending the OTA stuff down the cable.
If I had it, I might ditch Comcast basic because Aereo
You have a cite that shows that and that Aero is the cause?
IDK a single person who has Aero or even knows what it is. I'd be
shocked that they could have had any real impact on the cable companies.
I sure wouldn't be dropping rates on the huge segment of my business
that most people want, to stop a tiny percent who only want OTA from
I'd agree that Aero winning would most likely be a good thing. I say
most likely, because it's so complex that I can't forsee all the possible
They know where they are streaming content to because someone has to sign in
to get the feed. I think it's really a trivial process to insure *for the
most part* that their signal doesn't reach outside the broadcast area.
That's central to a pillar of their case - that they are NOT like a cable
operator who streams video from all over the country. Look for "traceroute"
tools on Google and you can see how easy it is to figure out where someone
TraceRoute from Network-Tools.com to 184.108.40.206
Hop (ms) (ms) (ms) IP Address Host name
1 0 0 0 220.127.116.11 8-1-18.ear1.dallas1.level3.net
2 1 1 0 18.104.22.168 cr01.dallas.tx.ibone.comcast.net
3 23 21 21 22.214.171.124
4 34 34 36 126.96.36.199
5 38 40 40 188.8.131.52
6 42 46 46 184.108.40.206
7 39 40 40 220.127.116.11 ten03.ross.pa.pitt.comcast.net
You can see where the data is going and how long it takes to get there. I
really have no doubt that they are able to keep the majority of their data
within the geographic boundary they've chosen.
If they disallow proxy servers and keep an eye on latency and number of hops
to the target, I think it's rather trivial of them to tailor the service
area to the broadcast "envelope." Could people get around it? Yes, but
once again, it's OTA *FREE* TV and not premium content so the incentive to
steal is way, way less than with "Game of Thrones." Nothing would stop
anyone from making a DVD of tonight's OTA broadcast in NYC and mailing it to
LA. So it seems Aereo is being exceptionally cautious to conform to the
concept of them merely "repeating" OTA broadcasts to those that are
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