Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Is TV Everywhere Legal? For now, maybe...

The last year has seen several new start-up services that seek to provide users access to programs they legally receive at home when they aren't in front of the TV.  And that's part of the goal of TV Everywhere - being able to access and view programming regardless of time, location, or type of screen.
  Aereo is a new start-up that offers subscribers access to their local TV stations through the internet, particularly via mobile devices.  It works by providing subscribers with a small antenna/tuner connected to their home Internet connection portal; allowing subscribers to take their free broadcast TV signals beyond the home.  As soon as the Areo started its service, they were sued by a consortium of networks and broadcasters for copyright infringement.  Part of the suit asked the courts to ban the service while their suit was in litigation - i.e., they wanted to kill the service while the challenge dragged out in court for years.
  An appeals court has now affirmed the trial court ruling against an injunction, allowing Aereo to continue operating through the litigation process.  Normally, such an injunction banning some behavior or service is awarded only if the party asking for the injunction is considered likely to win the case on its own merits.  As such, it's not a clear indication that Areo's service is legal, although judges indicated that Areo had a viable legal precedent for their system falling under "fair use" guidelines (as place-shifting of an otherwise legal signal).  That was enough to suggest that the challenge wasn't a cut-and-dried winner.

While I'm not a lawyer, the economist in me does wonder why broadcasters would object to a service that would make their signals more widely available and more valuable to viewers.  Perhaps it's not TV Everywhere access they object to, but not being offered a cut of Aereo's subscription revenues.

Source -  Appeals court denies broadcaster request to shut AereoConsumer Electronics Net

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