Aereo shot down; time to fix Washington?

Damn. Sometimes I hate being right.

I predicted that the US Supreme Court would find some excuse for a narrow decision to deny Aereo the right to stream over-the-air TV over the internet. But I couldn’t predict the reason because it’s just too goofy: Because Aereo is like a cable system, it should be bound by cable system rules even though Aereo was designed to avoid cable system rules. Mike Masnick at TechDirt has a much more thorough analysis that you should go read.

Aereo founder Chet Kanojia put it well in a post on his blog: “Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court is a massive setback for the American consumer. We’ve said all along that we worked diligently to create a technology that complies with the law, but today’s decision clearly states that how the technology works does not matter. This sends a chilling message to the technology industry.”

In the Broadcasting & Cable article on the decision, FilmOn founder Alki David was his usual hyperbolic self. “This huge blow to net neutrality and consumer rights proves my mistrust of the courts is well founded and that the policies and agencies that are supposed to protect the public interest have failed,” David said. “They are indeed mere tools of a handful of corporations intent on keeping the people in a stranglehold of bad cable service at extortionist fees.”

David exaggerates, but I don’t know by how much. Our political system is broken. Money, mostly delivered by a tiny group of donors, determines who gets elected and therefore what happens. Congressional representatives have to spend half their time just raising more money from a well-connected few. As a result, corporate interests routinely trump the good of the people.  That’s why I’ve donated to Lawrence Lessig’s Mayday PAC, which hopes to build enough support to implement meaningful campaign finance reform ironically by raising money to support candidates who agree.

Lessig had been interested in copyright reform, trying to find the right balance to give content creators a finite period to profit from their works while growing the pool of resources that other creators can reuse and repurpose. After a few years of writing on the topic, Lessig had the epiphany that copyright reform would never happen until the underlying problem of money in politics was solved. (You can find most of Lessig’s books available for free download at his personal blog.)

Click on the YouTube video at the top of this post and see for yourself. MayDay has ambitious goals, but they’ll need to reach theirs before we’ll all be able to watch live TV through Aereo again.