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Comment: "The law" discusses shared antennas? Where? (Score 1) 484

by sirwired (#47324853) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

The law which applies is 17 USC 101, 106 and 111. The word "antenna" (much less "shared antennas") appears in none of the three. So when you say "the law" "specifically talks about shared antennas", which part are you referring to? Not even the dissent refers to any statute about shared antennas.

101 has many of the the definitions for copyright law, including that for "performance" which was amended by the copyright act of '76, which was designed to stop the old "community antenna" cable systems, but it did so without using the word "antenna". Read the Aereo decision if you want the gory details on how the definition was amended.

106 says the copyright holder calls the shots for reproduction, performance, distribution, etc.

111 Defines "Cable Provider" and details the must-carry / compulsory license rules that apply to them. (f)1, 2, and 3 are the relevant sections in play.
1, details what a "primary transmission" is.
2, a "secondary transmission" what Aereo is accused of doing.
3 defines "cable system" which Aereo has now been judged to be. It would certainly seem to fit... to wit: "A “cable system” is a facility, located in any State, territory, trust territory, or possession of the United States, that in whole or in part receives signals transmitted or programs broadcast by one or more television broadcast stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, and makes secondary transmissions of such signals or programs by wires, cables, microwave, or other communications channels to subscribing members of the public who pay for such service.

Comment: Aereo was wrong. Full stop. (Score 1) 484

by sirwired (#47322767) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

Firstly, let me re-state that I think that the law itself is wrong and unjust. But that's different from saying the Supreme Court interpreted the law incorrectly. I don't see why it should matter how a customer receives a broadcast within the service area of that broadcaster. However, given that legislation for this sort of situation exists, I think the Supreme Court reasonably interpreted the law.

Aereo thought that their setup with individual antennas was a workaround for retransmission fees. Turns out it's not. When the law has any ambiguity, the courts (and certainly the Supreme Court) gets to decide what the law is. Which means their legal interpretation may have been plausible (I think it wasn't) but the losing side in a Supreme Court case is, by definition, in the wrong (until the law changes, anyway.) That means cable providers can't avoid fees the way Aereo did; because Aereo was blowing smoke.

The law (written in the 70's by Congress) said that taking the signal and retransmitting it was a "performance" requiring the licensing of the content. It originally was written in response to "community antennas" that filled in gaps in broadcast reception, but over the years, it also applied to Cable TV systems, satellite providers, and IP-TV providers like VIOS and U-Verse. The court decided that capturing the signal remotely and packaging it up over the internet qualifies as a retransmission, no matter how many antennas you use. This is not an unreasonable decision here. Frankly, I'm not sure why Aereo thought that an array of tiny antennas was a "magic wand" to let them avoid fees that a provider like VIOS or U-Verse, (which produce the same end-result (an individual video stream of a broadcast over the internet)) must pay. Courts generally don't like the "magic wand" way of resolving legal responsibilities; they frown on cumbersome things that make no sense outside circumvention of a legal requirement. (In a similar vein, a tax shelter must have a genuine economic purpose to be ruled valid; otherwise it's tax evasion. And it's still money-laundering if a bank sees a depositor split up payments to each be $1 below reporting thresholds.)

(As a side-note, that law in the 70's was written in response to a specific court case where the court said re-transmission wasn't a "performance" under copyright law. So Aereo would have been correct prior to that law being written, but they were bitten by the clear intent of the law.)

This decision reminds me of the shop a few years ago that thought they could set up a Video-on-Demand service by plugging up an array of physical DVD drives in their data center, thinking they could get around continual performance royalties through the one-time purchase of a DVD. They lost too. Again, the court frowned on a cumbersome setup that made utterly no technical sense put in place just to try and avoid the law.

And the court was careful to narrowly scope the decision to prevent it from being used to stop people from doing things like backing up their music collection to Dropbox.

Ranting about bought and paid-for law isn't really relevant here. Since they are Supreme Court justices, they can utterly ignore political and corporate pressure and rule any way they damn well please. That doesn't mean justices are always right, but criticisms that might normally apply to Congress and elected justices aren't really relevant to judges with lifetime appointments.

Comment: Yes, and...? (Score 1) 484

by sirwired (#47319801) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

Ok, cable companies can Betamax (as in the court case) their way to OnDemand capabilty and/or delivering TV over the network. (And delivering TV over an IP stream is actually what VIOS/U-Verse do.) What, exactly, is your point?

Aereo thought that because they were pulling the feed off of an individual broadcast antenna, they didn't have to pay the same fees somebody pulling a single licensed feed for everybody from the station would.

They were wrong.

End of story.

Comment: No; "the law, as mis-interpreted" (Score 1) 484

by sirwired (#47317081) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

Judges resolve ambiguities in law all the time (in this case, deciding Aereo fit the definition of a re-broadcaster); in fact, that's almosts all the Supreme Court does. So yes, you do need to predict how a judge will rule; Aereo gambled, and lost.

The intent of the law, as written, was quite clear. The Supreme court, long ago, issued a decision that Aereo could have hidden behind. Congress clearly overrode that ruling via a subsequent law, which required those that re-transmit broadcast content to obtain a license. Aereo tried to get around that law with pretending that "But... Internet! And... Cloud!" was a magic wand that would let them get around that law. This ruling is consistent with last week's patent exclusion, which held that "But... Computer!" was also not a magic way around patent law...

Comment: I would have ruled the same way, but... (Score 3, Insightful) 484

by sirwired (#47315539) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

The Supreme Court was (rightfully, IMHO) unimpressed by a technical loophole allowing Aereo to essentially run their own cable provider without paying the fees cable and satellite providers must pay. But...

Personally, I don't think the retransmission fees should be legal. If a user is within the service area of a broadcast station, anybody should be able to use whatever means necessary to obtain that station; this seems to be a logical extension of the broadcaster's license to use the radio spectrum to service a certain area. After all, somebody with poor reception, but still within the service area, is still excluded from using that spectrum for other uses. (Outside the broadcaster's licensed service area, retransmission fees make a whole lot of sense...)

But since the fees ARE legal, Aereo's workaround creates an inherently inequitable situation where cable and satellite providers must pay retransmission fees, but Aereo avoided them.

Comment: Why is that not good enough? (Score 2) 448

by sirwired (#47305427) Attached to: $500k "Energy-Harvesting" Kickstarter Scam Unfolding Right Now

Why is "Well, it wouldn't get enough power from the air" not good enough? This is basic physics here... broadcast RF has a certain total power level over any given antenna area based on the power of the transmitter(s) and the distance from the broadcast RF source(s); this device, in order to meet Bluetooth tx power requirements for their required transmit interval, along with the power for the chips, etc., requires more than that. Done.

The math and physics required here are not complicated nor do they take much space to explain. What exactly are you looking for?

Comment: This reminds me of the ROKR E1 (Score 4, Interesting) 192

by sirwired (#47265701) Attached to: Amazon Announces 'Fire Phone'

This phone strongly reminds me of the Motorola ROKR, a pre-iPhone device whose sole redeeming quality, vs. any other dumbphone of the time, was that it could play tracks you downloaded from iTunes and manually transferred to the phone over USB 1.0. It would only accept 100 songs and/or 1GB of files, whichever limit you hit first. It wouldn't play MP3's.

Amazon has released a phone that has nothing to distinguish itself from the competition other than the fact it is hog-tied to the Amazon ecosystem. It's does not have any particularly interesting features that could not be implemented in pure software, and the price is nothing to write home about either.

I don't see any reason why anybody would purchase this over the Moto G LTE, or any number of other smartphones that are available for a heckava lot less money. If you really don't mind being tied to a contract, there are better phones for less than the $200 they want.

Comment: Is a regular employee a "paid contributor"? (Score 1) 135

by sirwired (#47256669) Attached to: Wikipedia Forcing Editors To Disclose If They're Paid

The policy still doesn't make clear if an employee of a company always counts as a "paid contributor" if their job duties do not involve Wikipedia and they can expect no payment, recognition, etc. from their employer for their activities. Is that considered a "volunteer edit" or would my mere paycheck make me a "paid contributor"?

Comment: Energy = Electricity (Score 1) 394

by sirwired (#47255109) Attached to: Cable Boxes Are the 2nd Biggest Energy Users In Many Homes

Just because the article is sloppy and thinks gas doesn't count as energy doesn't mean I'm going to make the same mistake. Drying laundry takes a lot of energy, as does heating the water if you wash with warm or hot. (I don't care that gas is cheaper; energy is energy.)

Do you really game so much that your gaming computers take up more juice than the water heater? If they were running full-tilt 24x7 I could certainly conceive of this, but they don't. And when a water heater is cycling on, that sucker is drawing multiple kW. (And when I was referring to food, I was mostly thinking of the fridge; unless you cook a LOT, cooking doesn't use up that much energy.)

In any case, all that is going to dwarf a dinky little cable box, no matter how badly designed.

Comment: Do these people not take showers? Or eat? (Score 1) 394

by sirwired (#47254537) Attached to: Cable Boxes Are the 2nd Biggest Energy Users In Many Homes

I'm not buying this for one second... The only way that the cable box could possibly be the 2nd-largest consumer of energy would be if nobody in that house took showers, did laundry, or washed dishes, as a water heater uses an insane amount of electricity. And I'm pretty sure a fridge is going to be up there in energy-usage also.

In all fairness, the article and headline did say "many homes", but what use is a statistic if it only applies to slovenly basement-dwelling otaku?

As others have pointed out, it's also written most sloppily. The max rating of a box (500 watts) has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with average power consumption. We certainly don't decide that a house uses an average of ~30kw simply because it's equipped with a pair of 150A main breakers.

That said, yes, there's no excuse for how much juice these things use in standby mode.

Chemist who falls in acid is absorbed in work.