May 2013

In this May 28th, 2013 decision by Massachusetts Federal District Court Judge George O’Toole, Rent-A-PC unsuccessfully sought to obtain a preliminary injunction against two former employees, and to enforce a confidentiality agreement against a third.

As to two of the employees, Rent-A-PC attempted to enforce a one year covenant not to compete. Judge O’Toole denied that motion, finding that the employees underwent several material changes to their employment, making it likely that their agreements had been abrogated. In analyzing this issue Judge O’Toole relied heavily on F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Co. v. Barrington, a hallowed chestnut in Massachusetts noncompete case law dating back to 1968, but one that had been largely ignored until it was revived by a series of Superior Court cases in 2004.* Judge O’Toole’s reliance on F.A. Bartlett reinforces the impression that this doctrine has come full circle.

*These cases held that when the employment itself was the consideration for a noncompetition provision but the employee’s job had substantially changed, the provision was no longer enforceable.

Read the full article
Aereo, Antenna Farms and Copyright Law: Creative Destruction Comes to Broadcast TV (Part 3)

Click here for Part 1 in this series of posts, here for Part 2.

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series of posts I discussed how Aereo designed its broadcast-TV-to-Internet system to fit within the ruling established by the Second Circuit in the Cablevision case anticipating that it would be sued for copyright infringement by a group of broadcasters.

Innocence Abroad

INNOCENCE ABROAD
(IN SEARCH OF A COPYRIGHT)
Thomas Nast’s illustration in Harper’s Weekly
January 21, 1882, p. 37.

The broadcasters did file suit against Aereo, and in the Second Circuit, the very circuit in which Cablevision is controlling law and the circuit in which Aereo, not coincidentally, first offered its service. Home territory, in a manner of speaking. As expected, Aereo wrapped itself in Cablevision, and the district court ruled that Aereo’s “one antenna-one viewer” system did not violate the broadcasters’ public performance right under the Copyright Act. On this basis the district court denied the broadcasters’ request for a preliminary injunction that would have forced Aereo to stop operations in the Second Circuit, at the very least.… Read the full article

Aereo, Antenna Farms and Copyright Law: Creative Destruction Comes to Broadcast TV (Part 2)

Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.

– Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1902-1903

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Click here to see Part 1 of this series of posts.

In part 1 of this series I described how Aereo’s technology allows users to watch, record and access broadcast TV over the Internet. At the heart of this system is the use of a set of dime-sized antennas assigned to each subscriber, short buffering in RAM for retransmission and the creation of a unique per-subscriber copy of each broadcast the user wants to record for later viewing.

Why did Aereo construct its system this way?  Why not one antenna and one copy of each broadcast? Aren’t the thousands of antennas and thousands of personal copies expensive and unnecessary? The answer is that they may be expensive and technically unnecessary, but they are essential to Aereo’s ability to avoid broadcaster claims of copyright infringement.… Read the full article

Aereo, Antenna Farms and Copyright Law: Creative Destruction Comes to Broadcast TV (Part 1)

Whenever a copyright law is to be made or altered, then the idiots assemble.

Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1902-1903

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Aereo is coming to Boston, and to 20 other cities before the end of the year.

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 8.30.36 AMAereo is a company that has developed a system that captures over-the-air television (broadcast TV) and retransmits it to subscribers over the Internet. Subscribers are able to watch broadcast TV on their computers, tablets and smart phones. Even better, Aereo acts as a remote digital video recorder (a remote DVR) so subscribers can record programs and stream them at another time. Aereo launched in New York City in early 2012, but it has announced that it is expanding to 21 other cities in 2013.

Is this a problem for broadcasters? You bet it is. Cable companies pay broadcasters such as CBS, ABC, NBC and FOX for the right to retransmit their shows to cable subscribers.… Read the full article