You are here

public performance rights

Cable Companies Consider Going The Way of Aereo

At least three cable companies are considering circumventing the billions of dollars of retransmission fees they have to pay to broadcast TV companies by capturing free broadcast-TV signals themselves, Bloomberg reports. The cable companies would be mimicking the business model of Aereo and FilmOn X, which have developed Internet streaming services in which they retransmit free broadcast programming to subscribers through individualized antennas. A case in which Aereo's business model was found not to violate copyright law is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court for the high court to consider hearing the appeal.

Bloomberg also reports that "retransmission fees in the United States are expected to double to $6.1 billion in 2018 from $3.01 billion this year."

Aereo CEO's 'Back of My Napkin Plan' Got to U.S. Supreme Court in 20 Months

Chet Kanojia, CEO of television Internet streaming service Aereo, said that his business model of transmitting free broadcast television on the Internet through individual antennas dedicated to each subscriber “has gone from the back of my napkin two years ago, in my house, to in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and national policy in about a 20-month period. So, what else could you ask for, right?” Xconomy reported.

Broadcasters have appealed a decision in the Second Circuit that Aereo is not violating their copyright in their programming. One of their biggest arguments is that a ruling in favor of Aereo would excuse cable networks from paying for broadcast programming.

For his part, Kanojia said that a ruling in Aereo's favor would protect "the consumer in the midst of all this profiteering,” Xconomy also reported.

FilmOn X’s David: Supreme Court So Much Preferable to ‘Lunatic’ District Courts

Submitted by Amaris Elliott-Engel on Wed, 10/16/2013 - 23:27

Every time I see Internet television streaming service FilmOn X CEO Alki David quoted, he comes across as crazy. But speaking at a New York Law School forum on the future of television over Skype from Greece at 4 a.m. in the morning, he seemed no crazier than any other intelligent eccentric unafraid to speak his mind.

David said he would strongly prefer the U.S. Supreme Court or an intermediate appellate court to settle the copyright-law disputes triggered by his company’s and competitor Aereo’s new businesses.

"I've personally found much more joy in a higher court simply because the district court judges seem to be totally lunatic,” David said. “I don't know how one judge can make technical decisions and be completely technically inept. I don't understand how one judge can make decisions without having a hearing.” David’s firm is subject to a nationwide injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the District of Columbia District except for within the Second Circuit.

The issue of whether Internet streaming of free broadcast TV programming violates the copyright holders’ exclusive rights to public performance “really needs the grouping of brains and the grouping of intelligence to sit down and go through this and ultimately come to a decision. I will be ultimately happy for it to go to as high of a court as possible," David said.

While David argues that broadcasting programming is a public good because it’s delivered over the public broadcast airwaves, David also said that he would happily pay retransmission fees and “we’re not here to take market away from anybody.” There are entrenched interests in broadcasters against changing the status quo, including from legal departments who would like to fight against FilmOn X as much as possible, he added.

FilmOn X’s leader rejected the argument that his company is distributing copyrighted content without paying for it: "The content that is being distributed on our P2P networks is content that is freely available to the public,” David said. “It's not as if we're retransmitting DVR boxes with the NFL network or with Discovery."

In a panel discussion prior to David’s remarks, attorney Jonathan Band, with the law firm policybandwidth and who is in favor of FilmOn X’s and Aereo’s positions, said it’s an important fact both Aereo and FilmOn X have an array of antennas. One massive antenna distributing broadcast TV retransmissions to viewers might violate coprygith law, Band argued, but “on the other hand by having 10,000 antennas you have this one-to-one relation” of one antenna to one user.

Mary Ann Zimmer, of the Law Office of Mary Ann Zimmer and who is on the side of broadcasters, said in her opinion the legislative history of the Copyright Act shows that Congress did its best to protect copyright holders no matter what devices or methods were developed to reproduce their intellectual property.

“That was Congress' intent to broadly cover any kind of method” of transmitting the performance of broadcasting programming, Zimmerman said.

Aereo and FilmOn X are pursuing a “weird little loophole” to try to get around Congress’ intent, Zimmer argued.

The only reason Aereo and FilmOn X are “available business options is because they’re not paying for the content. It’s the greatest model,” said Howard Homonoff, of Homonoff Media Group, LLC, and who favors the broadcasters’ position.

While Zimmerman argued that FilmOn X and Aereo are interfering in the ability of broadcasters to develop markets for Internet distribution, Band said that the firms are filling a market niche for television consumers who want their programming unbundled and to have “the ability to select exactly what they want.”

FilmOn X Faces Contempt of Court For Boston-Area Streaming

The Wrap reports that--despite a national injunction barring FilmOn X from streaming free broadcast TV programming on its Internet service everywhere but in the Second Circuit--the company went ahead and started streaming in the Boston area.

FilmOn X was going to ask for a further carve-out from the injunction issued by a District of Columbia federal judge because a Boston-area federal judge ruled that broadcasters were not entitled to a temporary restraining order of FilmOn X's competitor, Aereo, in the New England area.

But FilmOn X didn't wait until the court ruled. The result? "A district court judge on Tuesday threatened to find FilmOn X in contempt of court for beginning to air network affiliates from Boston despite her injunction barring the company from airing network stations outside New York and Massachusetts," The Wrap reported.

UPDATE: The judge's order also rejected FilmOn X's request to modify her preliminary injunction.

Hearst Loses Copyright Fight Against Aereo in Boston

Just this morning, Hearst, which has a TV station in the Boston area, lost its argument for a temporary injunction in the District of Massachusetts against Aereo, GigaOm reports. Hearst argues that the use of individual antennas by Aereo to rebroadcast its copyrighted television content violates its public performance rights. But the judge said a temporary injunction is unnecessary because '“it seems more likely that the harm will take several years to materialize,'" GigaOm reports.

Broadcasters Will Seek U.S. Supreme Court Review in Aereo Copyright Case

Broadcasters who lost their copyright challenge in the Second Circuit to Aereo's Internet streaming service of free broadcast TV programming are going to seek certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, Variety reported in an exclusive. Contrary rulings against Aereo rival FilmOn X could set up a circuit split if the Ninth Cicrcuit followed the lead of trial-court rulings.

Aereo's Intellectual Property Fight Now Involves Patents

The Hollywood Reporter has this story: the broadcasters who allege Aereo's retransmission over the Internet of their free broadcast TV programmising is "copyright infringement want to find out why Aereo's patent applications state there is no simple way to access TV programming on digital devices." As a result, a judge is "allowing TV broadcasters to spend an hour deposing Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia and CTO Joseph Lipowski over statements made in patent applications," The Hollywood Reporter also reports.

CEO: Stopping Aereo Means Stopping 'Entire Industries'

The Hollywood Reporter has this piece on a conference call between investors and the CEO of Aereo, an Internet streaming service for free broadcast television that is challenging the boundaries of copyright law. CEO Chet Kanojia said that if his firm loses its court battles that "entire industries" would be threatened, Hollywood Reporter reported. "'The implication of not allowing private performance means" more people would pay more for performance licenses as well as posing a threat to entertainment companies working on cloud DVR services, Kanojia said on the call.

Copyright Battle Over Broadcast Streaming Services Getting Personal Between Rivals?

While streaming TV services Aereo and FilmOn X have a common cause in fighting the boundaries of copyright law and broadcast TV networks' exclusive rights to public performance of their programming, the firms' leaders seem to have have personal animus toward each other - or at least the CEO of FilmOn does after originally calling his firm Aereokiller until sued by Aereo on the name issue. The Verge reports FilmOn's billionaire owner accused Aereo of pursuing denial of service attacks against his firm in a tweet: '"@ckanojia - hey fuckhead, if you keep ddosing FilmOn you are going to pay in more ways than you can imagine.' A second message from David's account followed a few minutes later. 'What you are doing is like breaking into someone's home and smashing their shit up,' the tweet said. 'Fortunately [you] lame fuck, my geeks are smarter.'"

More Fodder for Future US Supreme Court Case Over Streaming TV Services?

A federal judge is leaning toward Aereo, the firm challenging copyright law's boundaries by providing individual subscribers retransmissions over the Internet of free broadcast TV through individually assigned antennas, and against a Hearst-owned station in a Boston federal case, the Boston Globe reports.  Federal district courts in California and D.C. have ruled against Aereo's competitor, FilmOn X, but the Second Circuit ruled in favor of Aereo.


Subscribe to RSS - public performance rights