Welcome!

Virtualization Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Andrew Phillips, Sematext Blog, Lori MacVittie

Blog Feed Post

Aereo v. Broadcasters: Things to Ponder

According to aereo.com, “With Aereo, you can watch real, live TV through a tiny remote antenna you control over the Internet — from home or anywhere in your home coverage area.”

If you’re a TV viewer with a broadband connection to the public Internet, this seems like an awesome idea. For $8 per month, you can “Record & Stream Live TV Online with Aereo Cloud DVR.”

If you’re a Broadcaster with a dual revenue stream (retransmission fees from a cable company or other MVPD plus advertising revenue) this seems like a world-ending technology designed to undermine a well-established business model by exploiting a legal loophole.

If you’re on the Supreme Court of The United States, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

The Debate

My good friend, Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association and Neal Katyla, the former acting solicitor general of the United States and legal adviser to the broadcasters in this case, spoke with Jeffrey Brown on PBS. It was a lively debate, well worth watching.

Mr. Katyla said, “As Justice Ginsburg pointed out in today’s argument, everyone else who wants to grab content has to pay for it. And the broadcast companies spend each year billions of dollars creating content, acquiring content, distributing the content. And if an interloper can come along like Aereo — and Aereo’s business model is essentially grabbing those signals from over the air, bundling them together and then selling them for a profit — well, then the entire model and the entire premise of copyright law is going to be disrupted.”

Mr. Katyla spent quality time describing Aereo as an “interloper” and insisted that Aereo’s technology violates copyright law. Interloper may be harsh, but Mr. Shapiro countered that, “… it’s not known whether or not Aereo broke the law… two courts have said they have not violated the law. And, in fact, the statute as written, which was, interestingly, barely discussed at the case, is pretty clear that they have not violated the law.”

Supporting Case Law

The Cablevision Case: In April 2013, a federal appeals court ruled that Aereo’s service didn’t violate copyright law based on a Second Circuit ruling “that found Cablevision’s remote DVR’s to be legal because they involved one copy of a show being transmitted to one subscriber.” While Aereo says its operation is “one antenna for one subscriber,” broadcasters argue that Aereo’s system is built specifically to get around copyright law and different from the Cablevision case because Aereo offers live TV without a license.

Sony Betamax: As opined by Mr. Shapiro, “… the Sony Betamax case, which said you have the right, as a consumer, to record over-the-air television. So there’s no one questioning that today, but a lot of people are relying on it, because that was a fundamental right.” He said Sony has a right to sell a VCR, and “Aereo has a right to basically sell access to an antenna. And, as Aereo’s attorney pointed out, there’s nothing different between what we’re doing with a centralized antenna that is located, as opposed to going in and installing them at people’s houses.”

Circuit Board

This circuit board is made up of a plurality of miniature antennas.

The Technology

This is where it really gets tricky. The circuit board pictured above shows a plurality of miniature television antennas. According to Aereo’s patent (and its attorney), each of these “antennas” are supposed to be assigned to an individual subscriber. The main argument, from Aereo’s point of view, is that you are renting a television antenna in a remote location and it is technically identical to finding the ideal place to put your regular-sized antenna, but… through the magic of Aereo technology (and it would have to be magic for reasons I shall explain in a moment), this little miniature antenna will tune in all of the broadcast television you would ever want to watch.

Then, also through the magic of Aereo technology, you can use a remote DVR (just like your DVR only in a remote location) and access recorded shows from any device that has access to the public Internet. Aereo argues that this is completely legal because its service is identical to making a deal with your neighbor to place your antenna on his roof (because he had better line of sight to the television transmitters) and paying $8 per month for the privilege.

The problem here is that a single miniature antenna like the ones shown on the circuit card can’t (due to very well understood physics) receive VHF and UHF television signals. It is possible that the entire circuit card may be able to resonate with the wavelengths in question, but not an individual miniature antenna. If you want to do an experiment, take one of these and attach it to your television set – you will most likely see snow on almost every channel. A paperclip-sized antenna would need to have Harry Potter-like powers to tune in the range radio frequencies used for broadcast television.

The Aereo patent claims have other significant issues with naming conventions and industry terms of art. I don’t know what an “antenna system” is. Aereo invented the term. But it clearly contains more technology than a passive television antenna sized to resonate at specific frequencies.

Then there’s the non-trivial issue of transcoding the signal from RF (Radio Frequency) to a streaming video format.

When taken together, the technology does not appear to be a passive television antenna in a remote location. It appears to be an array of antennas and a system for multiplexing transmission, which closely resembles an MVPD or, in other words, a cable operator.

Things to Ponder

Of the lessons learned from Sony Corp. Of Amer. V. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984) and MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., 545 U.S. 913 (2005) one important take-away was, “Technology is neither good nor bad it’s how people use it that makes it so.” To date, the courts have not ruled against technology or innovation. They have ruled against the way people put it to use.

Aereo is innovative and awesome! But is it legal?

This case is reminiscent of the advent of Super Stations. Back in 1976, Ted Turner realized that he could use C-Band Satellite technology to distribute the broadcast signal from WTCG-TV (renamed WTBS-TV in 1978) to cable providers nationwide. This was to the great dismay and chagrin of syndicators and content providers who licensed programming to WTCG/WTBS in Atlanta for use in the Atlanta television market. The contracts did not prohibit this kind of distribution because no one thought of it or had any idea that it would become an issue.

Lawsuits ensued, but… as we all know, WTBS-TV became TBS (Turner Broadcasting System) and the cable business, as we know it, was born.

Is the way Aereo is using Antenna/Internet technology radically different from the way TBS used C-Band Satellite technology? Both had the idea of increasing viewership of free over-the-air content by using available technology. While this example is imperfect for several reasons, the metaphor is a good one – innovators see opportunity where there is a market and brilliant innovators change constantly change the world.

Aereo is good for consumers. Some will argue that it is good for advertiser-supported broadcast television stations because it will increase viewership (local broadcast television ratings have been declining for a decade and the downward trend is accelerating). Make no mistake: Aereo is not good for broadcast television stations in any way. Not only because if Aereo prevails it will not have to pay retransmission fees, but because every cable company will copy the technology and cease to pay them as well. This will financially devastate the local broadcast television business. A win for Aereo is a death knell for local television stations.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? After all, the FCC wants the spectrum that it loans to local television stations (for free) back so it can sell it or lease it companies that want to use it for wireless broadband.

If free over the air television did not exist, would the content created by local TV stations be valuable enough for cable and satellite providers to carry? Would they pay for it? If the content were only available over a wired MVPD, Aereo would have nothing to sell. Is that future better for the public?

SCOTUS

The implications of the Aereo decision will be far-reaching and it will impact every aspect of the broadcast television business. Is this technology good or bad? It’s not about the technology at all… it’s about people understanding how it is being used. And, as Upton Sinclair used to say, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” Just some things to ponder about Aereo vs. television as we know it.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

@ThingsExpo Stories
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...