OVERNIGHT TECH: Another blow to Aereo

THE LEDE: A U.S. district judge in New York on Thursday issued a preliminary injunction barring the online television company Aereo from rebroadcasting live television online.

The company said it is reviewing the decision, but noted it does not apply to its cloud recording service. 

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Aereo already halted operations earlier this year after the Supreme Court ruled that its business model violated copyright law by not paying fees to broadcasters, something required of other cable and satellite companies. The injunction bars "Aereo from retransmitting programs to its subscribers while the programs are still being broadcast."

Aereo argued that the high court ruling meant it should be allowed to operate as a cable company, but the judge was unconvinced by that argument.

The company uses small antennas to pick up broadcast signals and stream them to people's online devices for a subscription fee.

"Doing its best to turn lemons into lemonade, Aereo now seeks to capitalize on the Supreme Court's comparison of it to a CATV [cable] system to argue that it is in fact a cable system," Judge Alison Nathan wrote

"Stated simply, while all cable systems may perform publicly, not all entities that perform publicly are necessarily cable systems, and nothing in the Supreme Court's opinion indicates otherwise," she added.

The company has recently focused on a separate strategy, urging the Federal Communications Commission to expand the definition of "multichannel video programming distributors" (MVPD), which includes video service providers like cable and satellite companies. The company wants its business model to fit into that definition.

 

USPTO’s Lee addresses telework: Michelle Lee on Thursday defended the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's telework program, in her first speech since being nominated last week by President Obama to lead the office.  She said one of the costs of being a "trailblazer is that you are always the first to encounter obstacles in your path."

The program came under fire from congressional investigators in August after reports that some employees were lying about the amount of time spent working from home. The office has said it is committed to addressing the allegations.

Lee, on Thursday, said the “award-winning" program is a key part of retaining talent and saving money, allowing it to double the number of patent examiners in a decade.The patent application backlog remains above 600,000, but that number decreased by about 150,000 since 2009 despite an increased demand. Her comments came in a broader speech about "our shared stewardship" of the U.S. intellectual property system.

"No program is perfect, and the USPTO’s telework program is no exception,” she said. “Recent events have helped shine a light on areas where our telework program can be improved. We’ve already moved forward with a number of concrete steps to bolster the management of the telework program to ensure the integrity of our operations."

 

T-Mobile wants more spectrum set aside: T-Mobile’s Vice President of Federal Regulatory Affaris Kathleen Ham blogged Thursday about why her company wants some “fine-tuning” of the rules for next year’s spectrum auction.

At least half of all available spectrum should be set aside for companies with little or no low-band spectrum in the market, she wrote. “This change is critical to guarantee enough ‘reserve’ spectrum to sustain four strong national carriers into the future as the FCC has said is important,” Ham argued.

 

Pressure builds on Facebook over buses: The left-leaning group Credo Action launched a new petition to urge Facebook to increase the wages for the bus drivers who carry staffers to and from its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters. Drivers of the Internet-enabled buses, which have long been a symbol of ire for critics of major tech companies,  “are forced to wait long hours, unpaid, between dropping these wealthy techies at the office and taking them home at the end of the day,” Credo said in its new petition.

The group wants Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to support bus drivers trying to form a union.” Let’s have those drivers’ backs and help build public pressure on Facebook to show the drivers they are not alone in this fight,” Credo said.

 

EFF releases anti-spying kit: The Electronic Frontier Foundation released a new “Surveillance Self-Defense” report on Thursday that it’s marketing as a do-it-yourself guide to avoiding electronic spying. "Surveillance Self-Defense will help you think through your personal risk factors and concerns — is it an authoritarian government you need to worry about, or an ex-spouse, or your employer? — and guide you to appropriate tools and practices based on your specific situation,” EFF international director Danny O'Brien said.

The new report is an update of a guide first launched in 2009. It includes introductions to basic privacy software and includes specific advice for human rights activists and journalists, among others.

 

Broadcasters' promote lobbyist: The National Association of Broadcasters is promoting Curtis LeGeyt to senior vice president of public policy, a new position that will have him serve as the group’s primary communicator to the White House and executive agencies. LeGeyt, a former aide to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyPelosi gets standing ovation at Kennedy Center Honors Trump brings pardoned soldiers on stage at Florida fundraiser: report ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks MORE (D-Vt.), will also continue his duties as a primary lobbyist for the broadcaster group on Capitol Hill, NAB said.

 

Marketing group gets new communications chief: The Direct Marketing Association announced that Lindsay Hutter will take over its communications and public relations office. Hutter formerly led communications at the National Associations of Convenience Stores and, more recently, worked at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a consulting firm.

 

ON TAP:

The Federal Communications Commission is meeting at 2:30 in a rare special meeting to decide whether or not to take an unnamed enforcement action.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is giving at least $100 million to fight Ebola, the largest private pledge so far to tackle the virus.

A coalition of 50 groups urging more government transparency called on President Obama to publicly support legislation that would reform the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process.

The United States is "very focused" on disrupting the social media fundraising by supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Treasury Department said Thursday.

tech industry coalition dedicated to reining in government spying is adding a new member.

The Senate Commerce Committee wants to know more about a social media app that promises anonymity that might have violated its terms of service agreement with customers. 

 

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