As we’ve seen with the investigation of Google by the FTC (News - Alert) (Federal Trade Commission), there’s a growing sense of discontent among large corporations in the wake of new technologies. Former laws and guidelines that were created for each industry can no longer be held valid in the face of the law, as they fail to address the new components that technology now holds.
The most recent issue to reach our headlines is the development of Aereo Inc., a channeling service that makes digital copies of TV shows and streams the content through the Internet to a user’s mobile device.
While this is advancement in the technology industry, it has created a huge financial threat to TV’s largest network corporations, who face the potential loss of billions in revenue.
TV companies like Verizon FiOS (News - Alert) and Optimum pay subscriber fees to TV networks so users can watch their favorite primetime shows using their cable service. For TV networks, this is an important source of income, as these fees have grown from almost nothing in 2005, to a predicted seven billion dollars by 2015 according, to the research firm, SNL Kagan.
When Aereo launched a service that could potentially eliminate the need for consumers to pay monthly subscriptions to their cable companies, you can only imagine the controversy it sparked in the TV market.
In the wake of higher mobile usage, individuals are now using their own devices to watch and record their favorite primetime shows. If they have products like Nintendo’s TVii, you could essentially watch television live, but your Wii remote would have to be synced to your television.
However, Aereo doesn’t rely on any type of syncing or Bluetooth, or television for that matter. All you need is a tiny antenna and monthly subscription to watch your favorite shows or sports channels as they stream live from TV networks.
It’s illegal to retransmit TV signals, but according to the company, it’s not exactly what it’s doing. Rather, the firm is operating an antenna and cloud-based DVR service controlled by the consumer.
And much to the TV industries distress, the courts have found this legal.
During the Google investigation, The FTC couldn’t find any rule that was violated according to its search engine guidelines, created in 2002 (and never updated since). Although marketing companies felt that Google (News - Alert) was engaging in unfair practices, with the lack of substantiating evidence, they could not be penalized.
Same goes for Aereo, which despite its ways to manipulate TV transmission with new technological advancements, no specific law exists that pertains to the legality of cloud-based services to streamline television shows.
TV networks are planning to build a case against Aereo, but it’s clear that a legislative backing must be created in order to subdue the situation. What’s even clearer is the dire need for industries to update their guidelines and violations just as quickly as technology does.
If not, there will be some serious legal contention when hearing technology-related issues.
Edited by Braden Becker