Broadcasters take their case against Aereo to the Supreme Court & Win

Discussion in 'Internet Streaming Services' started by Athlon646464, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. Oct 14, 2013 #21 of 196
    tonyd79

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    This can get interesting. I never understood how Sling gets around the copyright and local market laws, just that they do.

    But I am not sure I see the connection that is being made anyway. Sling is about moving content. Aero is a different delivery mechanism of the same content that cable and satellite provide in the same geographic space. From an Aero perspective, it seems that they would fall under the same must-carry or must-pay arrangements for cable and satellite but to drag Sling into it is overstepping. Different issue.
     
  2. Oct 14, 2013 #22 of 196
    KyL416

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    Anyone with common sense and a basic knowledge of physics knows they are lying about the one antenna per subscriber thing since they are all working as a bay and one of those "innovative" micro antennas alone cannot receive the entire DTV spectrum from VHF 2 to UHF 52. If it were they would make way more money selling the antennas. Not to mention the wiring involved to devote a tuner and encoder for each subscriber would violate every single NEC code. Also, anyone with a basic packet sniffer could see that the urls are the same for everyone outside of the auth code, just by opening the media cache file on my iOS device I was able to watch multiple channels at the same time. The whole prepping the stream thing is just an artificial delay created by a javascript countdown. The problem is getting a judge to understand all the technical aspects when it comes to broadcasting and the internet.

    If Aereo does win, will they have to abide by the other rules that cable and satellite providers have? i.e. EAS alerts (they carry Bloomberg so they can't rely on the local stations to do it), SAP feeds for Descriptive Video as part of the disability act, closed captioning, potential franchise requirements like Public/Educational/Government access, etc. They also have the problem of the low powered stations, for example in NYC there's several low powered stations that have signals that don't get past the 5 boroughs over the air, but they are providing them to the entire market which opens up another can of worms. Of course there's the whole upending the entire must carry/retransmission consent system since you know cable and satellite will cite this as a precedent, as well as the rights issues since in some cases not even the networks have the mobile and PC rights to their programming because of other conflicting deals. i.e. WPVI Philly is the local OTA station for the Eagles cable games, however Watch ABC cannot show these games because of the exclusive deal NFL made with Verizon.
     
  3. Oct 14, 2013 #23 of 196
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    Sling provides equipment. The closest they come to providing a service is connecting one's remote device to their own home equipment. They are not providing the programming themselves. They do not host the receivers (and do not, in their TOS, allow others to run Sling hosting farms). What people do with their Sling equipment is a personal choice. Sling promotes their products for legal use (personal use viewing of content from one's own home) and does not promote illegal viewing. Generally speaking, personal use has been upheld.

    Aereo provides tuners, storage, hosting and streaming services from their site to their customers. They provide the content. On the plus side they do respect market areas and do their best to only deliver the content within each Aereo market. But without the content that they receive and deliver the would not have a product.
     
  4. Oct 15, 2013 #24 of 196
    Mike_TV

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    This is interesting and I'm sure the broadcasters have inspected the serivce under a microscope, from afar, to build their case against them. Is there a website that lays out these claims (everyone sees the same stream, the antennas actually don't receive the signal and go one-to-one with a subscriber, etc)?

    I'm interested in the technical aspects of how the service works or doesn't work.
    I'm curious from a technical standpoint on how the service works, or flat out misrepresents how it works.
     
  5. Oct 15, 2013 #25 of 196
    KyL416

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    With software like URLSnooper, Wireshark or a jailbroken iOS device where you can access the media cache file you can see what the URLs are. If you are familiar with streaming servers you can tell how non-unique they are.
     
  6. Oct 26, 2013 #26 of 196
    Athlon646464

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    Update: Bloomberg: If Aereo wins in court, cable companies might buy it or build clones

    While TV broadcasters like CBS and Fox continue their legal battle against Aereo and its leased microantenna-to-internet streaming scheme, Bloomberg reports cable companies are watching more closely than ever.

    Since they're currently paying retrans fees for a lot of the same content networks broadcast over the air (and that Aereo is catching, then streaming to its subscribers on various devices -- web browser, Roku, Apple TV via AirPlay, iOS and most recently Android) if Aereo wins, they might see it as a way out of deals said to be worth billions of dollars over the years.

    Full Story Here
     
  7. Oct 27, 2013 #27 of 196
    JosephB

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    I don't get why they have the geographic limitation in place. They've already poked the broadcasters in the eye, and their entire legal argument is that no current regulation or law on the books with regards to local broadcast station retransmission applies to them, so one would think they would have no problem letting someone who lives in Manhattan, Kansas subscribe and watch TV out of Manhattan, New York. I have to think it's probably a combination of not trying to bite off too many legal issues at once (maybe they'll loosen the geographic restrictions if they win the current round of lawsuits) and also as a way to ration the service, since bandwidth is not the only limiting factor given their novel technological solution. (I can imagine they'd have massive demand if you could subscribe to New York or LA stations from anywhere)


    This is a way to make sure you live in the service area for the city you are attempting to subscribe to.

    Theoretically one would assume so, but the model is slightly different. As Fox has already started complaining about Dish receivers with Sling, obviously that is on the radar. I wouldn't expect them to come after individual subscribers and stand alone slingboxes would probably be harder to go after than integrated receivers like Dish receivers.


    I don't think it's as far fetched as you make it out to be. I won't speak to the physics of the antennas being able to pick up VHF to UHF frequencies, but as far as the wiring, have you seen a picture of their antenna array? It's a surface mounted antenna on a circuit board. They don't necessarily have to have a run of RG-6 going from the antenna to their tuners. From a technical standpoint, I don't even think they'd need an individual antenna per subscriber as much as an individual *tuner* per subscriber. Either way, you could miniaturize the antenna and the wiring to the tuner sufficiently that you're not looking at a wall of RG-6 coming into a rack. And, an encoder + tuner could theoretically be pretty small as well. You can get fairly small ATSC USB tuners, and if they have designed their own hardware, you could get it even smaller or designed in a way that is more efficient to put in their hosting locations. ATSC being digital already means all they need is one tuner per subscriber, they can just record the digital bitstream directly. The only "encoding" they need to do is when they play the video back to the customer, and in that case they would not need an encoder for each and every subscriber. Just a sufficient amount of CPU resources which is trivial.

    And, sniffing out the URLs and expecting them to be different shows a lack of understanding of how web applications are programmed. Using sessions and cookies and other techniques, you can show personalized content via standardized URLs. We don't get custom URLs on this message board, for example, even though we see different content based on our preferences.

    If they win, I think the whole point will have been to establish that they don't have to play by any of the rules governing cable or satellite, so all of the issues you cite in the last part of your post would be moot. That's entirely why they're getting sued.
     
  8. Oct 27, 2013 #28 of 196
    SayWhat?

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    I'd like to see the entire DMA system blown out. If I want to pay for it, I should be able to get any station from anywhere in the country. There may have been technical issues with doing that by satellite, but not with the advent of streaming. This is one aspect of the 50s-60s TV model that needs to die.

    I've never been in favor of territorial protectionism. I've seen the same thing in other businesses, although it's by contract/agreement rather than by law. Vertex and Motorola two way radios (among others) is another example. If I wanted to buy a radio, I had to buy it from an authorized dealer in my state even if I could find a better price on the same model from an authorized dealer in another state.

    I don't understand how businesses (in this case, TV stations) can be in favor of limiting their customer base/viewing audience.
     
  9. Oct 27, 2013 #29 of 196
    KyL416

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    Except the whole one antenna per subscriber thing is the main part of their argument to get around the retransmission consent system that cable and satellite have to follow.
    I work with streaming servers for a living, I know how all the various ones out there today function inside and out. The streaming server software they use is very common, it does NOT work the way you suggest it does. (Heck what I was using to playback the streams doesn't even support session cookies) The server has a different url for each stream hosted on the server. Streaming servers and message boards are different monsters. With a streaming server the actual URL seen by the media player refers to a specific publishing point on that server, a message board uses php scripts to fetch content from an SQL database. Oddly enough, the live DVR buffer feature is actually something built into the media player they use on their site. RTE in Ireland and BBC in the UK use the same player to power their live streams. It's one of the benefits to using HTTP Dynamic streaming which allows the player to cache the content from the point the end user started watching. I didn't have a chance to test their recording feature though to see how unique that is.
     
  10. Oct 27, 2013 #30 of 196
    tampa8

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  11. Oct 27, 2013 #31 of 196
    tampa8

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    They 100% have one antenna used per account using the system. If 1,000 people (Accounts) are online watching, all are on a separate antenna. It isn't the same antenna each time, but it is dedicated to one account each time. It's the precise reason it has sailed through the courts. I'm surprised people are having trouble understanding how it works, only because it's really simple. It's one of those things people in the industry are wondering how it hadn't been done before.
    And it has nothing at all to do with what Cable or Satellite has to follow. They are providing what is a free OTA signal, to people entitled to get it. Nothing more, nothing less. And no question DISH or other carriers are considering using the service, buying it, or replicating it.
     
  12. Oct 27, 2013 #32 of 196
    tampa8

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    I too have wondered how Sling gets around delivering a program anywhere. It has to be because they are not providing a signal but rather your own allowed programming and only via the internet In addition, only one can be signed in at a time. In the case of Aereo, I see it much clearer, a more obvious allowed use, as the Courts are apparently finding. They are following the law. They provide an antenna, within the DMA that only one account within the DMA can use at a time. You yourself can do this right now if you want to. Say you live on a hill, someone at the bottom can't get OTA signals well, but are entitled to. You can give them that signal, and charge for it as long as they are not using the same antenna as you are. There is no law prohibiting that. People are confusing Cable laws, or scrambled signals laws, with OTA laws. By the way, if you don't charge any money, you can give as many people as you want your OTA signal from one antenna. You can't do that with a cable/satellite signal.
     
  13. Oct 27, 2013 #33 of 196
    JosephB

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    DMAs and geographic exclusivity have never been about technical issues, other than when TV was invented it was technically impossible for one TV station's signals to blanket the entire country. It's always, from the beginning, been about forcing you to watch your local channel so that they can count you in their ratings. There are no issues that would prevent DirecTV from broadcasting a local channel nationally. As a matter of fact, back when they first started doing LiL all the locals were on the national CONUS beams. Back then the signal was compromised and one of the selling points that hackers were using when selling hacked cards was that you could watch locals from one of 20 or so cities. Satellite companies specifically moved to spotbeams and engineered themselves into "technically" not being able to provide any locals anywhere because it's a more efficient use of their spectrum.

    I'm torn when it comes to the DMA system and protectionism of local channels. Where I live, most of the local channels' news is crap. They do provide some service by having local weather broadcasts. At some level the reduction of locally originated programming overall is kind of sad. I don't know of any radio station that has local DJs anymore. The same would happen if you could get locals imported from anywhere. Every satellite company, and many cable companies, would instantly just switch to New York and LA nationally and dump the retransmission fees and complicated infrastructure they currently have to use for LiL service. Shortly thereafter local channels in probably all but the top 10 or so markets would go out of business.


    True, the one antenna per subscriber thing is a critical part of their legal argument so I have to believe that is how it works. However I think their legal argument would also work if they had one antenna, split, and then one tuner per subscriber. At any rate, I'm sure they have what they say they do, because a court isn't just going to take their word for it. I'm sure they have to provide evidence and people have to testify under oath how the system is setup.

    And when it comes to the streaming server, I don't know what specifically they are using, but you have no way of knowing if they are serving different streams to different people logged in with different usernames. It would be pretty dumb on their part to have all that hardware as a ruse and then be cheating by only streaming out of one encoder. Plus, the fact that they have DVR features, it can't be exactly the same stream for everyone.
     
  14. Oct 27, 2013 #34 of 196
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    That particular issue was not challenged in the case. I wish it was. The broadcasters focused on the rebroadcast of signals not the deeper technical issues. I place it between the best scientific discovery in TV reception and the greatest lie ever told by a rebroadcaster. I'd like to see the technology proven. Sell me one dime size antenna and micro receiver/DVR that does what Aereo claims. Show me that one works ... and then show me the technology scaled up to the alleged thousands of individual antennas and receivers. Audit the system ... show how many people are watching live and recording during each hour of peak programming and prove that there are enough antenna/receiver/DVRs to handle peak demand. If 1000 people are recording a show at the same time are there 1000 tuners feeding 1000 recorders creating 1000 files? Are the recordings truly independent or is it just part of the lie? Challenge the technology.

    As long as the broadcasters are focusing only on the rebroadcasts and not the technology we won't get an answer in court.

    That is the theory ... and all other rebroadcasters are doing are providing free OTA signals to people entitled to get it. They are simply using different technology. If the court rules that delivering free OTA signals to people entitled to get the signals is protected then why shouldn't other rebroadcasters get to do the same? If the question is simply providing free OTA signals to people entitled to get the signals then Aereo has already lost --- they lost a long time ago when cable and satellite was told that THEY could not deliver free OTA signals to people entitled to get the signals without the permission of the stations involved.

    If the difference is in the technology the court should be focusing on the technology ... prove that the technology actually exists. And if it does exist then other rebroadcasters should be able to use it. Anything less would be unfair.
     
  15. Oct 27, 2013 #35 of 196
    JosephB

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    The difference is entirely in the technology.

    Cable and satellite "rebroadcast" (read: copy) the signal from the channels that they carry. They actively take one signal, reprocess it, and a different and distinct "copy" is what comes out the other end.

    Aereo, on the other hand, is essentially leasing you a few square inches in their datacenter. Their argument is, it's no different if you rented a building downtown and put an antenna and TiVo and slingbox all on your own. They just do all the work for you. It's not a "common carrier" like cable or satellite--quite the opposite, there's noting "common" about it since each subscriber has their own antenna and encoder.
     
  16. Oct 27, 2013 #36 of 196
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    They need to prove the technology. The difference between a individual's Sling installation and Aereo is ownership. Sling TOS does not allow a data center "Sling hosting" installation. The Sling solution is individual owned and operated equipment. Aereo is admittedly shared (allegedly one subscriber uses an antenna/tuner/recorder while it is not in use by another subscriber). Plus they have yet to prove their claim that they are not simultaneously sharing antennas and receivers between subscribers ... and their DVR functions are most certainly making a copy of the programing on equipment that is not unique to the subscriber. There are holes in their system that the broadcasters should be looking at.
     
  17. Oct 27, 2013 #37 of 196
    KyL416

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    Again, I know streaming servers in and out, most, including the one they use, actually report the software and version that is powering their streaming server to the media player, with certain tools like curl or ffmpeg on verbose mode you can see this data. If you are familiar with how that streaming server works you can easily tell what's unique and what's not. As for the live DVR features, that is something BUILT IN to the flash player they use on their site, it functions by taking advantage of the way HTTP Dynamic streaming works and locally caching the video from the point the end user starts watching. BBC, RTE and many other sites use the exact same player for their live streams. As for the recordings not being the same for everyone, I couldn't test this feature, but most encoding software has an option to store copies of everything being sent to the streaming server. They could easily segment it based on the station's schedule and use that to deliver recordings.

    As for regulations not applying to them, that gets tricky. Live online streams actually do have to follow closed captioning rules, (some stations were forced to open caption their live streams if they couldn't support some form of subtitles) the rest of the disability act like SAP feeds for descriptive video might apply to them too. Right now the providers in the top 25 markets have to carry the SAP feed, by 2015 it will be the top 50 markets. If they want people to use Aereo as a primary viewing source, the FCC would likely want them to be part of the EAS alert system since they are not limited to OTA broadcasts anymore, they also carry Bloomberg TV. Nielsen would likely get involved too if it turns out someone in their survey is now using Aereo as their only source of TV and is no longer receiving the inaudible signals Nielsen uses to determine what they are watching.
     
  18. Oct 27, 2013 #38 of 196
    JosephB

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    The difference between Aereo streaming and the stations' own streaming is that the stations have an FCC license. Theoretically the FCC could say every local station in the country has to paint the floor in their studio pink or lose their license and they'd have to comply. With Aereo, the FCC has no such leverage. If Aereo wins, they explicitly will set the legal precedent that they are not a carrier under any law that gives the FCC authority over them. The Aereo decision will impact that side of their business as much as the retransmission fee question.
     
  19. Oct 27, 2013 #39 of 196
    SayWhat?

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    I'm not, and I'm not talking about 20 cities, or 100 cities. I'm talking about all cities, big and small. If somebody grew up in Paris, TX and moves to Poughkeepsie, NY, they SHOULD be able to watch their Paris, TX station if they choose. Maybe Dish couldn't handle that kind of on-demand locals, but the web can if the Paris, TX station streams. As for commercials, maybe this gut is gift shopping for his mother and she prefers a local Paris store. So he watches the station, sees one of their ads and is able to buy something for her. Doing so isn't hurting the Poughkeepsie station, that's for sure. It may or may not be helping the Paris station.

    There is no VALID reason against it. The commonly stated reasons are all balderdash.
     
  20. Oct 27, 2013 #40 of 196
    tampa8

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