Thursday, June 26, 2014

More on disrupting Aereo

In my last post, I spoke about how the Supreme Court disrupted would-be regulatory arbitrageur Aereo by saying that if it wanted to be a cable company, it would need to pay the same re-transmission fees that other cable providers do.

Mark McKenna writes on Slate that:
It would be one thing if the consequence of this approach were simply to block Aereo from offering its services. That would be a loss to consumers who don’t want to pay $150 a month for cable subscriptions, but at least the damage might be contained. Unfortunately, the problem is bigger than that, for in glossing over technological details, the opinion potentially implicates a wide range of other services. What about Dropbox and other cloud computing services, for example, all of which use their own equipment to retransmit what they receive to their customers, often transmitting many user-specific copies of the same works? How do those avoid liability? Not to worry, says the court, those technologies might be different. Why? Because cable system.
Nonsense.Dropbox is in no way coming anywhere close to the sort of copyright infringement that Aereo was, and everyone knows it, including Dropbox which is why they didn't bother building the crazy Rube Goldberg contraption that Aereo had hoping that minor technical distinctions would get them off the hook for what was plainly cable company operations. This is not to say that the regulations around cable or OTA operation in the US make any sense, they don't, but to make some kind of slippery slope argument that the Aereo ruling imperils a company like DropBox is fear mongering and suggests that the court ruled correctly.

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