Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Cablevision Tells Aereo to Get Off Its Team

If Aereo, the start-up that lets you watch Web TV on tablets and phones, wins its court case, it could be a big deal for pay-TV companies.

That’s because Aereo doesn’t pay broadcast networks for their programming, and the cable guys do. But if Aereo doesn’t, then perhaps the cable guys can get off the hook, too.

That, however, could take an awfully long time to play out. In the meantime, here’s a pay-TV company weighing in on the side of the status quo — Cablevision has filed a friend-of-the-court brief that sides with the broadcasters in their fight with Aereo.

In addition to the pay TV/free TV dynamic referenced above, there’s one other reason this one is worth skimming: Aereo’s entire structure is based on a legal victory Cablevision won back in 2009 to operate a cloud-based DVR.

Big tech players like Google and Amazon have used the same ruling to create cloud-based music lockers without licenses from labels. And Aereo is basically making the same argument with its Rube Goldbergesque array of teeny-tiny TV antennas.

Short version:  Cablevision’s lawyers take great pains to argue that their setup is nothing like Aereo’s. The longer version, below, runs 24 pages.

Amicus brief 12-2807 _as filed 9.21.12_

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work