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Aereo faces shutdown after Supreme Court ruling favors broadcasters

updated 11:38 am EDT, Wed June 25, 2014

Cloud-based DVR service should pay licenses to broadcasters, rules Supreme Court

Aereo has lost its battle against broadcasters, after the US Supreme Court ruled against the start-up. In a 6-3 ruling, the court states the company violates copyright law by streaming recordings of TV shows to its subscribers, classifying the streams as "public performances" and so requires that Aereo pay content licenses to broadcasters for their programming.

Currently, Aereo provides thousands of micro antennas for recording individual programs unique to their subscribers, rather than using fewer antennas, recording a program once, and playing that recording to multiple users. In the court's opinion, Aereo is still operating as if it is a cable company, despite the background machinations, and therefore is not able to escape paying the licensing fees to broadcasters.

Aereo antenna array
Aereo antenna array


The issue of public or private performances in relation to a clause in the Copyright Act was central to the case. Aereo claimed the individual, user-specific copies from assigned antennas were made just to one subscriber, and so should classify as a non-public performance. "Viewed in terms of Congress' regulatory objectives, these behind the scenes technological differences do not distinguish Aereo's system from cable systems, which do perform publicly," states the ruling. "Congress would as much have intended to protect a copyright holder from the unlicensed activities of Aereo as from those of cable companies."

The ruling leaves Aereo with relatively few courses of action. Aside from shutting down, it could opt to pay broadcasters licenses for content, something which would almost certainly raise the subscription price to customers. Broadcasters could also refuse to provide a license to Aereo at a reasonable charge, a move which would starve the company of content and force a service closure. Aereo may also decide to put its equipment and technology to use in another direction, though it is unclear what else it could do.



It was suggested before the Supreme Court hearings that a negative ruling could have negative consequences to cloud storage providers and other streaming services, with Aereo attorney David C. Frederick claiming "The cloud computing industry is freaked out about this case." The opinion states "Given the limited nature of this holding, the Court does not believe its decision will discourage the emergence or use of different kinds of technologies."

Justices Breyer, Ginsurg, Kagan, Kennedy, Roberts, and Sotomayor are in favor of the decision, with justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas against.

13-461_l537 by Eric Rydin



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 09-17-99

    At first I sided with Aereo - they were/are doing the right thing. But unfortunately, they've gone about it the wrong way. Exploiting a loophole is no way to run a business, and the courts closed it today.

    The point was to deliver free broadcast television (which people have every right) to those who are not in a position to use an antenna effectively.

    The real solution, which I don't think will happen any time soon, is to force cable companies to offer a basic cable package where they provide unencrypted access to all broadcast stations serving the area. They are granted monopoly status, and with it comes responsibility to the public. Otherwise, deregulate and allow competition like any other free market.

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 09-17-99

    MacNN, why are you filtering out line breaks.
    It makes things
    very hard to
    read.

  1. Grendelmon

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 12-26-07

    Originally Posted by hayeskView Post

    The real solution, which I don't think will happen any time soon, is to force cable companies to offer a basic cable package where they provide unencrypted access to all broadcast stations serving the area. They are granted monopoly status, and with it comes responsibility to the public. Otherwise, deregulate and allow competition like any other free market.



    Well, while I was with Comcrap, they did actually provide a basic cable package that we signed up for, *just* to get local channels. HD over air is very, very poor in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Then, just last year, Congress passed a law that allowed the cable companies to encrypt everything, essentially forcing you to pay a rental for top boxes. So our *basic* package when we first signed up at around $10/mo was now about $20/mo.

    We just recently moved in the same area, and crossed the magical monopoly "boundaries", and we now have Charter. Charter's minimum cable package was $30/mo. We ditched TV. On a good note, I pay half the price for high speed through Chater, and get twice the speed!

  1. EstaNightshift

    Managing Editor

    Joined: 07-19-12

    Originally Posted by hayeskView Post

    MacNN, why are you filtering out line breaks.
    It makes things
    very hard to
    read.




    What? Where? Both on the homepage and the forums, I see line breaks.

  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09

    When you initially post, line breaks are removed from the posting as it appears to you, the poster. They're still there, and other people will see them; you just have to reload the page to see them. Some kind of bug in the AJAX, I'm guessing.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    ...perhaps a failure to convert newline characters (generated when you press ENTER in a text area) back to HTML line breaks (which are required to properly show line breaks in an HTML document).

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    FWIW, I find that when I look at a post I've made after hitting submit, there are no line breaks.

    But if I refresh the page, there they are on both the news page and the forums. So it works out okay in the end. :)

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