Aereo suspending operations as of 11:30 today

Garrett Wollman
Mon Jun 30 13:07:54 EDT 2014

<<On Sun, 29 Jun 2014 22:02:38 -0400, A Joseph Ross <> said:

> Whether they've got one antenna or a warehouse full of them, they're 
> still retransmitting the air signals of TV stations.

Well, of course the argument they made -- and it was a good enough
argument to get four Supreme Court justices to sign on -- was that
they weren't "retransmitting" as the law defined it, but rather, they
were in the equipment-rental business.  Nobody would argue that
Rent-A-Center is a cable company; Aereo simply took that one step
further, by allowing customers the opportunity to rent space in a
warehouse for their tuner/DVR.

It's also important keep in mind that there are *two* separate
copyrights involved here.  There is the copyright on the individual
programs, and then there is the copyright on the broadcast station's
output.  The Copyright Act of 1976 established a compulsory licensing
scheme for the first case, and cable companies must pay a license fee
that is redistributed by the Copyright Office proportionally to the
owners of the programs.  The Cable Act of 1992 introduced the
retransmission-consent regime, and depending on how you look at it,
that's either:

(a) reasonable compensation for the broadcasters' investment in
acquiring new programming, or

(b) naked rent-seeking by broadcasters asking for additional revenue
to which they would not be entitled were the cable companies not
extending the reach of their signals.

Both perspectives are legitimate, but only one has the imprimatur of
the Supreme Court behind it.

Note that there was a service very like Aereo which lost in the Court
of Appeals on the grounds that it was not a cable company.  If it's
still timely, you can expect the operator of that service to ask for
reconsideration on the basis of the Aereo decision.


More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list