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Copyright Challenges Block Innovative Reception System for Consumers
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An innovative entrepreneur, Aereo, backed by Barry Diller of Internet conglomerate IAS/Interactive, has been stopped in its tracks from releasing dime sized antennas to subscribers that promised better city reception, and free reception of TV channels.

Barry Diller, incidentally is a person with the background of having run companies like Paramount and Fox as his background, and he knows a thing or two about copyright law.

The company Aereo, used a loophole in the current copyright law that allows Cable and satellite companies to reproduce and perform shows publicly, but allows individuals to pull signals from the air for free. Aero used that loophole to create high-performing dime-sized antennas that could be attached to computers and mobile devices to watch TV shows for free bypassing intermediaries like cable and satellite channels.

  
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The company had planned to charge subscribers of their antennas only $12 a month enabling high quality reception, even within cities, free for any show that was broadcast on the air. The proposed deadline for going public with the offer was March 14.

However, media companies filed two lawsuits against Aereo upon the claims that Aereo would be violating copyright law by using internet to stream shows to its subscribers. However, Aero maintains that it would not be charging its subscribers for any shows but for upkeep and maintenance of the hardware and associated software of the antenna. The antenna is not geared to specific company channels but rather like an FM antenna would be able to decode and receive any transmission within bandwidths for entertainment and news channels and it depends upon the customer to decide which channel or station they want to play on their end hardware.

Though the copyright law in the area is murky, Aereo claims citizens have a right to pull signals from the air for free as no company can lay claims to the possession of air in the country.

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Well, if that argument goes through, then it can be game-changing for the industry with brokers and intermediaries removed from between broadcasters and receivers.

The principle of law followed by Aereo seems sound as consumers have been pulling signals for free from the air for years with set-top and rooftop antennas. If Aereo loses the case, then the right of the consumer to freely access signals in the air might be lost, and what is free today, may start being charged tomorrow.



At least that seems to be the wish of the big media companies challenging Aero’s move. At least for now, media companies have avoided immediate catastrophe by holding up Aero at the court until the suits are decided.



 

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