Will Bamboom’s Mini-Antenna Solve Legal Online TV Viewing?

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Another start-up’s decided to attempt a streaming television service, convinced that it’s found the way around all the legal red tape snarling previous attempts. Here’s the catch: It’s not a cable company.

The distinction may seem minor, but Bamboom thinks it’s important. The New York-based company, currently in “technical beta” launch, creates individual “miniaturized antennas” for each of its users, putting them in a central location and making those antennas feed a broadcast signal to each user’s system. It’s a solution the company believes frees it from being defined as a cable system by Section 111 of the Copyright Act and, it hopes, make it more likely to be legally defined as “a private performance” instead of a public one:

Unlike public performances that would require some form of copyright license, the private performances initiated by consumers using the Bamboom technology do not infringe copyright and need no licenses. This enables consumers to access their local broadcast programming on their IP-enabled devices, in real time, without expensive subscription fees.

Believe or not, there’s legal precedent to some of this: a lawsuit between Cartoon Network and Cablevision was successfully appealed two years ago and established that transmissions are solely destined for one specific viewer and don’t run afoul of laws about public performances.

Will this be enough to convince networks not to sue? Unlikely, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens when all the lawsuits arrive. If the courts agree with the “solely destined” verdict, microbroadcasting may turn out to be online TV’s legal ticket.

More on TIME.com:

South By Southwest Interactive: The Futurist, and the Seamless Streaming Future of TV

Google, Sony, Tivo Form Crusading Supergroup For Smart Televisions

Hulu’s Take on the Future of TV: Everyone Wins (Except Cable)

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