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Aereo Wins Another Court Victory

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If you haven’t been following the court battles involving Aereo, the service that allows watching and recording live broadcasted TV online, perhaps you’ll be excited to hear how they’ve prevailed in their latest court battle. Yesterday, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Aereo’s technology is legal.

Obviously that’s a disappointment to cable and TV broadcasters whose model involves selling consumers lots of channels (wanted and unwanted) at increasingly higher prices. In our family, we cut the cord years ago and use Netflix, Amazon Prime Streaming and iTunes season passes for our TV viewing, which together provide nearly everything we want. I know we’re not alone and if Aereo continues to win its legal battles, they will provide a better option still.

If you’re unfamiliar with Aereo, their service uses hundreds of tiny antennas located in a data center to access live broadcast TV. When you use the service, you are effectively renting one of those antennae for the duration of your viewing session. You can watch through your browser or on an iPhone or iPad. You can even record and watch programs later, kind of like a DVR but without need for a box at home.

The court ruling focused on a couple of points: the antennae and user control of the broadcast. According to an excellent Gigaom post on the ruling:

The Second Circuit, however, ruled on Monday in a two-to-one decision that each Aereo subscriber controls the TV stream they receive — including the ability to pause, rewind or record any given show. This means that Aereo is not transmitting to the public and that the service is consistent with the Cablevision decision. The court added that it didn’t matter if Aereo didn’t have a license to show the original programming or that it had created the mini-antenna service specifically to take advantage of the copyright loophole.

The “Cablevision decision” referenced  a previous decision by the Second Court on Cablevision’s remote DVR system.

Obviously a major blow to the TV industry, this will make it hard for them to keep viewers captive to their cable bills. Aereo allows consumers to watch when and where they want and their plans include “by the day” plans — perfect for someone who only watches one or two shows a week.

Aereo is currently available only in the New York City Metropolitan area, but the company plans to expand. I’ve signed up to be notified when it’s available to me in Washington, D.C. Aereo would be the perfect way for us to get our weekly Castle fix!

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