By Rob Scott
January 1, 2013
From Kim Dotcom and the rise of patent troll lawsuits to Apple v. Samsung and the public outcry against SOPA/PIPA, 2012 was a dramatic year in terms of copyright law, tech-related legislation and Internet policy. Response to the SOPA/PIPA bills in January helped set the tone as the debate in Washington raged, and consumers and companies took to the Internet in protest. At one point, politicians were flooded with a record eight million e-mails from regular Internet users in just a few days. So what were the top tech policy stories for 2012 — and how will they impact us moving forward? Continue reading Year in Review: Top Tech Policy Stories of 2012
By Rob Scott
December 17, 2012
We’ve been following this year’s legal battles of Aereo as major broadcast networks have sued the online TV startup over copyright infringement. Since the service streams TV signals of New York stations for a monthly fee without paying for the right to carry signals, Aereo has created an uproar in the television industry. Now Aereo has begun paying for content, after adding Bloomberg TV to its program lineup.
“We believe that our members will see deep value adding in Bloomberg Television as their ‘go-to’ source for financial news,” said Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia in a written statement. The service also plans to announce expansion to 15 new cities early next year. Kanojia recently said that Aereo is pursuing additional content deals.
“Meanwhile, Aereo and major broadcasters are awaiting a critical decision from an appeals court in their legal battle,” notes the Wall Street Journal. “Last month broadcasters argued their appeal of a lower court’s decision in July denying the broadcasters’ request for a preliminary injunction shutting down Aereo’s service.”
The legal battle could take years to be resolved. “Without a preliminary injunction, Aereo has time to expand and streaming competitors also have a chance to emerge,” notes WSJ.
By Rob Scott
December 4, 2012
A federal appeals court panel is skeptical whether streaming service Aereo has the right to retransmit broadcast television content without permission, but has yet to issue a decision. Three judges of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appeared ready to reverse July’s lower court decision that reluctantly gave Aereo approval.
ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC are among the networks appealing the lower court judge’s decision that cited a Cablevision DVR case to allow Aereo to operate.
“Cablevision was a storage service, not a retransmission service,” says Bruce Keller, the networks’ attorney. “Aereo is a retransmission service by its own design. Without a license, it violates copyrights.” Paul Smith, another lawyer for the broadcasters, told the panel that the startup was trying to turn the Cablevision case “into a complete carte blanche where people can violate copyrights.”
Meanwhile, Aereo insists that it is complying with copyright laws and provides a legal, alternate platform for free TV broadcasts. Attorney R. David Hosp argued that Aereo lets customers “rent remotely located antennas to access content they could receive for free by installing the same equipment at home,” notes the Wall Street Journal.
“Aereo has grown from 100 users to more than 3,500 in the last year and has expanded from Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad to devices including Windows computers,” reports WSJ. “It lets customers capture broadcasts from 29 local channels with subscriptions starting at $8 a month.”
By Bryan Gonzalez
November 14, 2011
The following are some notable comments from a panel at last week’s Futures of Entertainment conference at MIT.
Panel: “The Futures of Serialized Storytelling”
- Science fiction is perfect for serialized storytelling because of a large story world that can generate.
- Today’s distractions are forcing TV to focus on its best skill, large live events.
- Serialized drama is really moving to time-shifted. About 50-60 percent of a drama (in theUK) is moving to time-shifted viewing.
- The large challenge for storytellers is how to deal with asynchronous drama. Do writers and show runners still use mechanisms such as cliffhangers, when a large amount of viewing happens 6-12 months after the show?
- Three types of audiences: skimmers, dippers and divers. Skimmers watch the show but offer no other engagement. Dippers will engage beyond the TV, and watch clips and other content online. And divers are the hardcore fans that engage with each other and all the content you put out.
- You spend the most time and energy to produce content for divers. Even though divers are a small slice of the audience, they are the most active. They are the core of your “word of mouth campaign.”
- TV producers are out of touch, they have been too focused on ratings. They have to get back into the crowd. They have to rebuild their skills of “listen and response.”
- For the past five years dramas have been produced in a bubble, driven by executives and ratings. Or copying formulas that may have worked in the past. Very little has happened to create new stories.
- It’s important to pace your engagement with the audience. It’s not always about putting out loads of content up front. You must fold in content for the hardcore fans but not alienate the regular fans.
- The more we move into a digital world, the more important the physical tangible experience becomes. It can be a great tool to engage with audiences. For example, “Game of Thrones” food trucks. But on the flip-side, distribution is very difficult.
- Twitter (social media) serves to amplify the liveliness of TV.
- Dramas are not built for Twitter during the show; we see much more Twitter activity after the show.
- “The X-Factor” seems to be designed for half of your attention. It allows for audiences to tweet during the show.
- In social media, we know that the audience members aren’t directing their comments to the show, they are talking to their friends.
- We’re going back 150-200 years ago, during the age of Shakespeare, when a story was told in front of an audience that reacted and talked and commented openly.
- The TV or the movie screen should be the primary source of storytelling. The reason being, those sources will build the most attention from audiences.
- The primary source has to be the best place that can cut into the audience’s attention. With time, that may shift away from the TV screen.
Laurie Baird (Georgia Tech)
Matt Locke (Storythings, UK)
Steve Coulson (Campfire)
Lynn Liccardo (Soap opera critic)
Denise Mann (University of California-Los Angeles)
By Rob Scott
April 10, 2011
David Pogue of the New York Times writes that we are in a fascinating transitional period from physical media to streaming services, but that accessing streaming movies from our TVs, laptops and phones comes with a price. For example, we are missing some of the DVD features including subtitles, multiple languages and director’s commentary. We are also restricted regarding when we have access to some streaming content and how long our subscription or per-title fee allows us to view a specific title.
In response to these concerns, Pogue mentions a new streaming service named Zediva.com that provides subtitle, language and commentary options in addition to some surprising (and perhaps disturbing, for the content creators and distributors) business model features. Rented movies are available for two weeks instead of 24 hours, current titles are available the same day as DVD releases, and there are no hardware or subscription fees — simply a rental charge of $2 per movie.
The process is simple. Zediva has set up hundreds of DVD players in its California data center; the company purchases dozens of copies of current releases and makes them available to consumers. As Pogue writes: “The DVD is simply sending you the audio and video signals, as if it were connected to your home with a really, really long cable.”
Of course, content creators and distributors may have issue with this approach. In related news, the MPAA has filed a lawsuit against Zediva (since Pogue’s article), claiming that the company is violating copyright law by streaming DVDs. While the company bills itself as a movie-rental service, comparing its service with companies like Netflix that purchase hundreds of copies of popular movies and then mailing them to renters, the MPAA’s lawyers argue the service is a form of “public performance” that would require a license.
Related Wall Street Journal article: “Hollywood Studios Sue Start-Up Zediva” (4/4/11)