Feeds

TV scraper Aereo pulled off air in six US states after tellyco court injunction victory

Weasel words butter no parsnips with Judge Kimball

Intelligent flash storage arrays

TV retransmitter Aereo, which created its business hoping to weasel around a loophole in the law, has been banned in six US states after a judge granted a preliminary injunction that bans it from operating in them.

Aereo provided each subscriber with access to a tiny antenna in the cloud, deploying thousands of these antennas to capture TV signals.

Crucially, Aereo operated using a legal loophole granted in favour another company some years ago, which – it claimed – meant it didn't need to pay TV stations for the content it retransmitted. It's that loophole which is at the heart of the legal battle.

Responding to the somewhat inevitable litigation from the TV companies, Aereo argued that the 'Transmit Clause' of the 1976 Copyright Act - which requires cable companies to pay royalties for the material they re-transmit - didn't apply to them.

Aereo argued that it provided a “private” performance of the TV material to each of its subscribers. Public performance of broadcast material in the US requires a licence, but Aereo said that it wasn't actually engaging in "public performance" since it was capturing transmissions in the cloud and beaming them to one person at a time.

They based this on an exception that had been made for a cable company's cloud DVR service in 2008. In that case the judge had ruled that Cablevision's PVR wasn't making a public performance either.

And so far, Aereo has had some success persuading District Courts that it was observing the letter, if not the spirit, of the law. But Judge Dale Kimball - the same Utah judge who ruled much of SCO's legal assault on Linux to be out of order - disagreed.

"The clause states clearly that it applies to any performance made available to the public," Kimball noted. "Paying subscribers would certainly fall within the ambit of 'a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances' and within a general understanding of the term 'public'".

Lobby group the Electronic Frontier Foundation - which receives large donations from technology companies, including Google - hailed Aereo's earlier court victory as a victory for "innovation without permission".

"The decision is a positive step because it repudiates the 'permission culture' worldview of the TV networks and their allies," crowed the EFF's Mitch Stoltz. "The networks ... argued essentially that anyone who profits from copyrighted works must be made to pay".

Yes, Mitch, that's sort of the idea.

It was more of a victory for using something and not paying for it. Kimball pointed out that Cablevision had a licence - while Aereo didn't.

Narrow exemptions to copyright law are vital for some infrastructure to work. For example, a browser makes a cached copy of a web page and its images, and courts quite correctly do not interpret this as copyright infringement. They make an exception for it. But to take an entire output of other people's work requires a licence to reuse, then reuse it for profit without a licence - well, that's another story.

Hollywood Reporter has a summary and Kimball's ruling. The Supreme Court has agreed to consider the Aereo case. ®

Reg Tip:

If you are caught stealing someone else's pint in a pub, and they object, just tell them that you are pioneering 'Permissionless Drinking' - and they must back off.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.