Aereo loses at supreme court


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“Man, you old people just don’t get it,” should not be my reaction to Supreme Court cases.


“Scalia, Thomas, and Alito got it right” should not be my reaction to Supreme Court cases.


Aereo never had a chance against the big media lobby and lawyers. I had them losing April 9, 2013:

I guess I’m just a bit more realist about this. When you have to go through such a technical mess to make your business functional, wouldn’t it be better that we focus on getting the laws redrafted, instead of trying to skirt them with inefficient technologies?

I mean no love to media companies, but I’d rather the laws support efficient technological solutions.

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Has there been any kind of technical review done about whether Aereo actually works the way their marketing literature wants us to believe? From the outside I would expect that what they actually do is store a single copy of high quality streams and then synthesize a “per user stream” from that based on what that user’s antenna was supposedly watching. The idea that they can install a bunch of tiny antennas IN a data center and get a good enough signal for thousands of users and THEN independently store copies of each stream from each antenna just in case the user wants to watch it seems impractical and absurd.

Perhaps this IS the grand new age of digital television and I’m just unlucky at how badly my cellphone works inside a brick building, never mind a data center full of metal cages, cabling, and ductwork.


I cut the cable tv cord a year ago and I have used Aereo for the past two months. I really do think every user had their own antenna, and it wasn’t that great of an experience compared to the antenna in my attic. It would often look bad and drop-out at the highest resolution offered, and streaming the lower resolution had less drop-outs but of course did not look so great. Of course that could just have been Comcast throttling down all feeds coming from Aereo. I let them have my $8.00 though because they were poking established media in the face. On a side note, the HD I get with my home antenna is way better than the HD Comcast provided.

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They weren’t lying about having arrays of antennae, if thats what you’re asking.

The big technical question that might not have been answered, is whether or not they were storing a single copy of each broadcast separately, or were they using storage technology that merges those copies in a sort of compression algorithm that reduces space by having many->1 links.

I remember an interview with the CTO (in Ars Technica? it was awhile ago) that said they were specifically not using deduplication technology because they wanted any potential legal challenges to be a clean as possible. He said they were paying a small fortune in storage fees because of it.

Can’t they, you know, appeal to a super secret court or something?

Works for the government!

It was probably Ars, as I remember reading that too, just couldn’t place it.

The techcrunch link is by far the better source for this story.

Aereo’s entrie business model was based on the 2007 2d Circuit decision they discuss there, Cablevision. This is the decision that has basically made cloud DVRs legal, and the legality was premised on the idea it’s everyday folk at home who are doing the recording, and that Cablevision just gives them the equipment to do it. It’s like recording a show with your VCR, but your tape is in the cloud.

Aereo took a look at that decision and figured out a way to essentially do the same thing by giving everyone an antenna and their own storage. The home user controls everything, and instead of only the VHS tape being in the cloud, the antenna is too. They tailored their entire business plan to the technical reasoning of this opinion, even though the judges who wrote it were clearly not thinking about what Aereo ended up doing. It was a hugely risky decision to adopt this strategy, especially since the precedent they were relying on was only from the 2d Circuit, and not the Supreme Court, but they obviously thought the potential payoff would justify it.

You didn’t have them losing this decision, and you didn’t have them losing the fight with big media lobbysists and lawyers: you had them losing because of your projected death of big media and the refusal of consumers to pay even $8/month for broadcast TV.

I suppose they could start paying retransmission fees, I have no idea how that would impact their bottom line, but around here basic cable costs $30/month. I’d love to see some more competition for the service of putting over-the-air on a wire.

Disney will ensure that Aereo can’t transmit ABC without the ESPN bundle…

ABC ticks me off, really. They’e got a space on my AppleTV, yet I can’t actually view the material unless I use a cable provider. I’m willing to analogize for this sort of behavior on the part of Lifetime, History, A&E and a bunch of other “cable channels”, but ABC?


I probably don’t understand it properly, but I thought the agreements for retransmission were between cable companies and the local affiliates not with the network. But you are most likely right: the networks will not go gentle into that good night.

Data centers do have roofs (rooves?)

Usually not. The roofs present a security hazard that can be exploited by teams of highly trained ninja assasains. Most data centers are housed in decommissioned nuclear bunkers.

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