Those keeping up with the struggles of new technology and media innovation with established players and laws may be familiar with the controversial (and now extinct) startup Aereo. Aereo, along with several other like-minded companies, engaged in the practice of rebroadcasting TV signals to subscribers and consumers. In effect, they functioned as a second pipe, a way to move content from one access point to a more convenient access point.
In their attempt to legally justify this service, Aereo went so far as to produce a TV antenna for each subscriber. Unfortunately for Aereo, even this justification wasn't enough to satisfy established broadcasters, copyright holders, or judges. Aereo sought desperately to obtain a license to continue operation in some fashion, but were denied as well, resulting in the dismantling of the company.
Indeed, this high profile failure provided little hope for players in this market. However, that hope may yet be rekindled. Though not a blessing from the courts just yet, a judge has ruled that a company known as FilmOn may be entitled to a compulsory license to rebroadcast content in a similar manner to Aereo. If so, this would provide them with legal protection against content providers that will certainly seek to remove them from the picture. However, the judge in this case, George W. Wu, has decided to petition a higher court to scrutinize the situation.
FilmOn is currently under a similar injunction preventing them from rebroadcasting content. According to FilmOn's website, they currently license a number of channels for rebroadcasting, with availability varying based on country. In operation since 2009, FilmOn and its brethren represent the latest in the challenges facing innovators and established players in a rapidly-changing digital age. Where the hammer eventually falls in this case will have long-lasting repercussions for both creators and consumers.