3 Count: Cable Debate

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1: Aereo: ‘Okay, You Can Call Us A Cable Company’

First off today, Emma Woollacott at Forbes reports that Aereo is continuing to fight for its survival after the Supreme Court ruled against it, filing a petition with the lower court saying that, since the Supreme Court found it was “for all practical purposes a traditional cable system” that it should be eligible for a statutory license and not have its transmissions enjoined.

Aereo is a TV streaming service that captures over the air broadcast television using a series of tiny antennas, one per customer, and then stream it to customers via the Web. Aereo had argued that since each customer used their own antenna, it was no different than what customers can do in their own home. However, the Supreme Court disagreed, calling it functionally a cable system and ruling that its retransmissions were an infringement, prompting Aereo to “pause” its service.

Broadcasters, however, contend that the Supreme Court’s ruling simply means it functioned like a cable company, not that it qualifies under Section III as a cable provider. It also points to previous Aereo statements to the contrary and notes that similar services, including Ivi and FilmOn have made similar arguments without success. Failing this, Aereo has said it may only allow streaming of television programs after the fact as any injunction only applies to “near-simultaneous” rebroadcasting.

2: UK Lawmakers Favor Legalization of MP3 and DVD Copying

Next up today, Ernesto at Torrentfreak writes that, in the UK, the Parliament held a general committee debate on the subject of format shifting, moving content from one format to another (IE: Converting CDs to be played on an MP3 player) and approved the current draft of he Copyright and Rights in Performances Regulations, which would allow such shifting in the country.

Currently, format shifting is a violation of the law and technically punishable as a criminal offense. The UK government is aiming to change that and had sought to have the new rules take effect in June. However, as the deadline came and went they key elements of the legislation still needed Parliament’s approval.

The MPs who discussed the issue seemed to agree that private copying should be allowed though there was some concern that it might not comply with EU copyright, which may require copyright holders be compensated for such copying. The MPs noted that millions in the UK are currently copying and shifting their legally-purchased media without fear of reprisal, making the law out of touch with what is already commonplace in the country.

3: TPP May Force ISPs to Police Online Activity

Finally today, Rebecca Merrett at Computerworld reports that some 70 organizations, ranging from ISPs like iiNet and public interest groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have signed an open letter calling on negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to limit the requirements in the treaty on ISPs and other intermediaries.

The TPP is a controversial treaty that has largely been negotiated in secret. Leaked drafts have indicated that the law could require signatory countries to force ISPs to police the actions of Internet users and remove infringing content.

The letter calls for the creation of a notice-and-notice system that does not burden users or ISPs or users and the creation of a judicial notice-and-takedown system where the removal of content would require a court order. The signatories not only worry that the TPP could infringe user rights, but could also raise costs for ISPs, which would make internet access more expensive.


That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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