Aereo, the embattled over-the-air TV streaming service, got what was effectively an endorsement from the Consumer Electronics Association. The CEA filed an amicus brief in support of Aereo as it defends a lawsuit brought by broadcasters.
Previously, consumer groups Public Knowledge and the Electronic Freedom Foundation had also filed amicus briefs supporting Aereo. And so did the Computer and Communications Industry Association. CCIA president Ed Black said, “TV broadcasters are essentially complaining that Aereo is disrupting their existing business model. However, in the past, the Supreme Court has recognized that it is best for Congress to decide whether or not it is desirable to expand protections of copyright owners to respond to changes in technology. We agree that Congress, rather than the court system, would have more flexibility to address TV broadcasters complaints without creating uncertainty for Internet innovators and investors.”
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CEA, said “the case will hinge on basic principles from the 1984 Supreme Court Sony Betamax case, the Magna Carta decision of our industry defining full recording of broadcast television as a fair use and allowing innovation in technology. The Aereo case, like the Sony Betamax case, is a challenge to innovative technology allowing people to conveniently access free, over-the-air broadcasting. In Sony, it was time shifting broadcasting by a VCR; in Aereo, it is accessing free broadcasting through a computer. In both cases, the technology expands the audience, is consistent with broadcaster-borrowed use of public spectrum for free, over-the-air broadcasting and is being challenged as it is disruptive, new and not allowing consumer control by old industries.”
So that’s all good, but another twist came to light this week. Todd Spangler of Multichannel News reported that Aereo filed a patent in February on its system to stream TV to viewers outside their “home market”. Although you can only sign up for Aereo signals from your home market (currently just New York City), you might be able to watch your streaming signal from your personal Aereo antenna even when you’re on the road. Which is pretty much what I can do with my Sling-enabled Dish Network receiver. I wonder what’s new in that patent?
Anyway, here’s a video report of what Aereo is like, if you haven’t seen it already.