Aereo Remains Offline – Judges Rule In Favor Of Broadcasters – Why?

NYC based Aereo Inc. continues to struggle after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that their business model violates broadcasters’ copyrights.

This Thursday, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan  granted the TV networks’ request for a temporary injunction blocking Aereo’s service nationwide. She rejected a claim that a ban would harm the company, which is backed by billionaire Barry Diller.

The company, which streams local television to subscribers via their web-browser and apps, took painstaking measures during it’s initial setup to make sure it complied with all laws and regulations regarding rebroadcasting.

They developed special miniaturized antennas that could be crammed in large numbers on building roof-tops…this allowed them to provide each subscriber with their own personal antenna just for their personal stream. As such, subscribers were essentially renting an HD over-the-air antenna which are completely legal for consumers to own and use. Aereo simply streamed the channels picked up by these legal antennas directly to the subscribers who rent them.

This is an attractive concept to many consumers in the cities where the service was offered. For instance, I’m perfectly entitled to buy an antenna, connect it to my TV and receive local broadcasts. However, the reception in my apartment may not be ideal due to materials in the building, interference, etc… It’d be much better to have it on a in a place where reception is optimal, say a rooftop. But the management company doesn’t allow access to roof of my building. What’s more, who want’s to start running wires from the roof to the television?

The Aereo solution makes great sense…simply pay them to dedicate the same kind of antenna for my use, have it placed in an optimal location and streamed to me via my internet connection. To comply with regulations Aereo only provides local channels from the city in which you reside. You can’t be in Miami and get New York broadcasts. You can only receive the channels that you’d get by setting up your own antenna in your residence. And each antenna is for one customer only. In addition, Aereo also provides a DVR service to record programs from your antenna that you may miss. Also, a perfectly legal device.

Despite all the logic and care put into this system, the broadcaster lobbying seems too strong to be overcome. Somehow they keep managing to convince officials that this simple transaction is a violation of copyright.  Where as if I go through the nightmare of putting the same antenna on my own roof and connect it to a DVR, it would be perfectly legal.

The company says they will continue to explore their options

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