Originally Posted by Richard Burger
You once again are ignoring the particular plain facts that don't suit your argument. Aereo is creating an antenna farm. They are collecting OTA TV broadcasts and delivering them to the customer, one antenna per customer.
If the situation were as simple as you describe, we'd have nothing to talk about, and Aereo would not have millions of dollars of investment sunk into it.
1) It remains to be seen if Aereo is really and truly providing one antenna per customer. They say they do, but it hasn't been shown to be true. Until someone demands they prove it by logging into their account, viewing content and having Aereo pull the antenna assigned to them, all we have is what they claim.
2) The number of antennas is irrelevent. Antennas don't distribute or program channels. The channels are chosen by a tuner. It's the tuners that count. One entire building can use one antenna as long as everyone has a tuner that can be controlled individually. What you can't do is feed one channel to multiple people, which would be considered a public performance - much like playing a DVD or Blu-ray for a group of people would be. Single antennas for mutiple people to use have already been deemed legal.
The only time the antenna would really need to be individual is in cases where it needs to be rotated for various channels. That's more for the ability to view all available channels at any given time than a copyright issue. Aereo doesn't rotate their antennas (as far as we know) so that's not an issue.
What Aereo downplays is how it gets to the customer: pre-tuned remotely, converted to another video format, compressed for the web and fed as IP data. Essentually, what they're doing is taking content and creating a new product with it. It's not the original signal - it's a duplicate in a web-based form.
It would be like signing out a library book for someone who isn't near one, then sending PDF version of it to the customer to read. The book is out of circulation and held for the customer while they read it (so only that customer can access it in that time), but it's still a copy. No one will knock down your door for doing that to your books you own and want to read on your Kindle, but someone building a business model on it needs an agreement with the publisher and potentially pay royalties (or provide the E-Book copy to the publisher for them to sell in return).
I can put an antenna on my roof and my neighbors can hook into my distribution amp. There's nothing illegal about that. The can all watch a different channel if they want (since we have over a dozen here). However, if I split the output of my OTA tuner to all those people, that would be illegal.
Further, even if I look it down so no one I don't authorize can get to it, running that tuner to the interent for anyone but myself (even in the same market) violates copyright by creating new content that didn't exist before.
Honestly, I'm not sure how anyone could think the whole case depends on the antennas and not the sending content over a medium it was never authorized for - oh yeah, and charging for it.