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Supreme Court outlaws Aereo because reasons

Furthering the perception that the Supreme Court and those in power are out of touch with the realities of technology and innovation, the Supreme Court issued a 6-3 ruling against the streaming TV service Aereo for violating the copyrights of broadcasters. This ruling rests on the mistaken interpretation that Aereo functions like a cable company, and thus must be a cable company when it comes to copyright law.

TV companies including CBS, NBC, and ABC took issue with Aereo charging customers $8-$12 to stream broadcast channels to their mobile devices without paying the channels re-transmission fees like cable companies do. Aereo established a very convoluted system to route around the understood copyright law. Aereo provided a micro-antenna for every individual user which was used to capture over-the-air video for streaming. This antenna functioned the same way rabbit ear antenna would work on your home television set, only this antenna was found miles away. The only channels available were ones already using the public airwaves, which are freely available without charge for anyone using their own antenna. The crux of Aereo’s business model stemmed from the Cablevision ruling that permitted Cablevision to offer a remote DVR service which functioned exactly like a personal DVR, except the hard drive was located outside your home.

For technologists, Aereo basically provided the same product of television, only with a really long cable. Because current copyright is so complicated and convoluted, their system for offering this service seemed complicated and convoluted. The Supreme Court seemed to take issue at how much Aereo attempted to cirvumvent copyright law with its technology, ignoring that avoiding breaking the law does make you guilty of breaking that law. The court says Aereo possesses an “overwhelming likeness” to cable companies, establishing the “Looks like a Duck” legal test for how to treat new technology.

The fallout of this ruling will be a stifling of innovation. TV companies have not been eager to innovate, either through new business models or new technology that makes the experience better (such as suing over the aforementioned DVR in its many iterations). Because the court’s ruling ignores what the technology does instead judging it for what they understand presents a cloud of uncertainty around new technology and startups. The ruling itself seems to desperately try to say it will not apply to other cloud technologies, but without providing a useful legal test for the rapidly growing sector to apply when building new businesses.

Aereo has suspended its service, already bringing an exciting new business to a close.


Netflix’s Innovation: Giving Viewers Control Over Content

netflix-logoNetflix’s stock has soared this week on news of excellent earnings and growing subscribers.  More significant is the release of Netflix’s new original series “House of Cards.” The $100 million prestige soaked series, from Academy Award winners David Fincher and Kevin Spacey, launches its full 12 episode season in all markets on February 12th. Also important, “House of Cards” will be available on every platform Netflix supports.  Any Netflix subscriber can watch every episode of the season by Saturday morning.

Compared to legacy media models, this is revolutionary, while at the same time, so simple and obvious about how consumers want to consume media.

Between time-shifting DVRs and online piracy, viewers already have pretty significant control over their viewing experience. International viewers still have to choose between piracy or waiting months to watch foreign shows. American “Downton Abbey” fans waited for almost six months for season 3, even needing to avoid major plot spoilers because of the long delay. Legacy television continues relying on windows and restrictions, something consumers are less willing to accept.

Netflix’s model has long been about enablement.  “House of Cards” screenwriter Beau Willimon explained Netflix considered several ways to release the episodes:

Should we do a traditional [one episode per week]? Should we do it in chunks, like four episodes, then five episodes, then four episodes? And we eventually arrived at [offering] 13 all at once because that speaks to what Netflix has to offer that really no other network does. Its subscribers watch content when they want to watch it, how they want to watch it, in what chunks they want to watch it. And so it puts the decision in their hands.

Let consumers choose how they watch their shows. It’s a revolutionary idea. Remove restrictions and enable users.  It’s empowering and value-enhancing.  These sound like great ways to build a business.



7 best geek musicals

Superheroes, demons, and plants are not your standard musical subject matter, but for the unique genre of Geek Musicals, they are the C# to our A major chord.  Musicals dwell in a world of fantasy and disbelief that geeks are well versed in making the genres oddly compatible yet rarely recognized.  Here I highlight the 7 best geek musicals, judged on their subject matter, entertainment value, and quality of songs.  Only musicals with released performances, either on stage or film, were considered.  Each musical includes a musical video, so prepare to hum, laugh, and cry through the list of the Best Geek Musicals here at Geek Musical Week on Prodigeek.

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7 games in need of Lego treatment

One of the greatest Star Wars video games owes it all to those little building blocks called Legos. Lego Star Wars gave the duel trilogy a hilarious and enjoyable romp through the galaxy with tons of collectables, vehicles, and playable characters. More Lego games including the just released Indiana Jones and upccoming Batman lead me to wonder what else can the franchise build.

7. Power Rangers

They might be campy and kiddy, but they still have awesome video game potential yet to be realized. Awesome martial arts moves with cool weapons and giant robots all to fight a bizarre assortment of monsters. With hundreds of monsters, Zords, and different kinds of Power Rangers over the years, there’s tons of unlockables to give this game long legs. Just remember co-op. This is a team effort.

lego_cartman 6. South Park

Let’s see the mature side of Legos by turning the foul mouthed kids of Colorado into colorful blocks of fun. Let’s even risk the cliched sandbox approach, rebuilding the entire town of South Park in Legos with missions from the show, like fighting vicious turkeys and Mecha-Streisand.

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7 best fictional butlers

Rich people are great to watch, but sometimes the staff is even better. While the rich makes fools of themselves, their butlers have to clean up the mess – whether its chocolate sauce all over the living room or a dented Batmobile. These butlers make our lives, the viewers, better for all the work they do…and don’t do.

7. Geoffrey Butler

An accomplished Olympic runner and Oxford University alum, Geoffrey Butler left England after cheating in a race and edwin_jarvisgetting slapped by the Queen. Thus his career in buttling was realized in the sitcom the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, providing the Banks family with much needed sarcasm.

6. Edwin Jarvis

Iron Man’s invaluable butler Edwin Jarvis has become a staple of the Marvel Universe, offering his skills to the entire Avengers and Fantastic Four, helping host alien dignitaries and babysitting super powered children. He’s even served the Avengers for their entire existence, longer even than Captain America.

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7 greatest Masters

mirror_master 7. Mastermind

The manipulative master of, shockingly, minds, had the power to create illusions, making people see what isn’t there.  He greatly amplified his powers using a mind-tap mechanism to create an all-new reality for Jean Grey, who at the time was possessed by the Phoenix.  Mastermind’s fantasy world led to Jean Grey becoming the evil Dark Phoenix, destroying solar systems and killing billions.  Sure Mastermind didn’t mean to be such a dick, but that’s what happens when you play with fire.  If only he could master that too.

6. Mirror Master

Three people have held the mantle Mirror Master, showing just how popular mirrors can be.  The most recent Mirror Master, Evan McCulloch, not only can use mirrors as dimensional portals (hella cool), but he also speaks with a Scottish accent.  This has no bearing on his addiction to cocaine.

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7 worst (meaning best) fictional serial killers

I don’t mean to condone or glorify the acts of these, disturbed individuals. The truth is serial killers are damn captivating characters, with their arrogance, creativity, and lust for blood. It’s fun to root for the villains, these deplorable cretins obsessed with death and destruction. These are the coolest serial killers who you don’t want to meet in a dark or even well lit alley. (Spoilers included)

michael_myers 7. Michael Myers

The featured killer of the Halloween movies, Michael Myers began his career killing his older sister. Fifteen years later he escaped his sanitarium, returning to his home town to kill teenagers especially Jamie Lee Curtis who managed to fend off the fiend long enough for help to arrive. But after every movie, Myers manages to survive gunshots, car crashes, explosions, and more to return again for more murder and mayhem.

6. Norman Bates

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Psycho inspired a generation to take baths. Bates suffers from dissociative identity disorder, dressing up and pretending to be his mother. He developed this to deal with murdering his mother who spent years abusing him. His classic shower murder of Marion Crane remains his crowning achievement, but anytime Bates, or his mother, were threatened, the mother took over and took care of business.

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Sports journalism plays by its own rules

I don’t pretend to understand (or care) about sporting events, but I can’t ignore the insane copyright claims sporting organizations are claiming.  This including banning fantasy leagues because Major League Baseball "owns" their stats (MLB lost in court) or the National Football League claiming infringement if you showed the Super Bowl on a screen larger than 55 inches.

Today’s New York Times finally gives some attention to the new rules sports teams are trying to place on news organizations, limiting the numbers of photos and videos news outlets and air and for how long, but fails to challenge these ludicrous claims.

The NFL puts rules in place last year limiting clips to 45 seconds and even preventing reporters from airing their own interviews with players.  The NFL loosened these rules for the four networks who already pay $3.7 billion per year to air football.

The MLB now limits news organizations to short videos and no more than seven photos, which must be removed in 72-hours.  The scary thing is that while some news organizations have refused to follow the rules, the Associated Press Sports Editors negotiated looser rules.

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7 must-answer questions of Battlestar Galactica (spoilers)

Battlestar Galactica, one of the best science fiction shows in like ever, returns April 4th with its final season and hopefully, some long sought after closure. Before the swan song, we have 20 episodes to answer all our anticipation filled questions. There is a big spoiler warning for this whole article. If you aren’t completely caught up on all the awesomeness that is Battlestar Galactica, do not waste time reading this post and go watch it now. So say we all.

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