Voice Actors Win One Over Technology in Aereo Ruling

The popular service Aereo, which allows people to watch live TV online for free without cable, lost a battle in the Supreme Court today. SAG-AFTRA calls it a victory for actors.

What is Aereo?aereo
If you have never used it before, the service Aereo allows customers to view TV online for free at a low subscription cost. Going through the list of channels one can see why this service would be popular with those who are exhausted with paying high monthly cable fees.

This is indeed another form of disruption through technology, and something those in entertainment have become quite used to seeing in the last decade. You can instantly see from the service that those who may have “Internet TV’s” are avoiding paying high cost for watching TV.

The Supreme Court ruled such a disruption violated broadcasters’ copyrights by allowing its subscribers to watch and record over-the-air channels. Aereo argued that its service avoided copyright infringement because it simply allowed subscribers to watch programs via the Web that they were already entitled to watch over the air for free.

Views of Entitlement
The tech view: “If we are making something customers want, it cannot be wrong. Therefore, such rulings are negative for the tech industry as it prevents innovation in the tech industry, which is bad for the economy.”

The SAG-AFTRA view: “Actors will benefit from this ruling”.

The Supreme Courts opinion can be viewed here. In essence, they view Aereo operates as just another cable company service. It has to pay to be like one.

This blogger’s view?
You can take any argument and spin it into a gold fleece. It seems nothing ever changes. Voice actors are forever in a battle to prove their worth and be paid well. Tech companies, whether startup or corporation, think along the same line of finding ways to give lots of people what they want at a lower cost, while eliminating the middle-class-middleman worker, who supplies such services.

When confronted with such things, the company takes the view of “We are only giving people what they want. We are innovating.” The only way people are able to protect themselves is through legal battles to prove something is “fair” and “unfair”. As a result, all the technology has done is display everyone’s inner desire to have the world work as one big Walmart online. Perhaps, that is a reason why everyone feels trapped by an “economic depression.” The real “depression” is that the few are exploiting the masses through technology, expecting them to work for less because it is “what people want”. Perhaps, the real depression at hand is that everyone is focusing on what they “want” instead of “what they need” or “what is best for everyone”. There are technological advancements that carry with it a vibe, “do it to them before they do it to us”.

If paying larger cable bills does somehow mean voice actors get paid more through union rates, sign me up for 300 channels. If new technology creates more “careers” (not only jobs), then I am all for it. The Supreme Court did well on this one. It is there job to think of what is best for the masses; not the few.

What do you think? Do you use Aereo?

1 thought on “Voice Actors Win One Over Technology in Aereo Ruling

  1. I can see both sides on this one. Rather than pulling the plug on innovation, though, why don’t the networks collaborate with Aereo in some way? A reasonable retransmission fee, perhaps? Aereo’s small subscriber base and limited channel offerings don’t pose a huge threat to the broadcast or cable industries. I subscribe to Netflix for a few cable shows, and series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. I don’t watch a lot of network TV, and so paying the cable company for a package doesn’t make sense. If I lived in the city I would use an HD antenna to pull in network content. But situated north of the metro area, just outside of that over-the-air range, I “rent” a mini-antenna via Aereo, for that once-in-a-while need for network news or perhaps an episode of Antiques Roadshow. The content comes straight off a NYC-based antenna––one per subscriber––commercials and all. Content is limited to local broadcast stations, like WCBS, WABC, WNET, etc. No cable networks. Yes, it’s a bit of a loophole, but is the Supreme Court acting in the interest of union talent? Or are they siding with corporate entities like Time Warner? (More likely.) Can’t Nielsen track Aereo just like any other over-the-air consumption? That seems like a logical solution for tracking consumers and ensuring proper compensation for content producers.


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