The justices sided with the nation’s main TV networks and cable companies against Aereo, an Internet startup that rebroadcasts live programs to subscribers with free re-transmission.
The broadcasters had advised that if one company was permitted to evade those fees, others companies — from Dish Network to DirecTV — would surely follow. That would risk billions of dollars in income that broadcasters would hold back into producing new programs. Re-transmission fees brought in an estimated $2.37 billion dollars in 2013.
Aereo had argued that it is different from other cable companies considering each subscriber is assigned their own single, dime-sized antenna, usually stored on rooftop circuit boards, and picks up a live broadcast only upon request. But a majority of justices saw those antennas as just one way around copyright laws.
“Aereo’s system is, for all practical purposes, identical to a cable system,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority. “Both use their own products. Both take in broadcast television programs, many of them are copyrighted. Both empower subscribers to view those programs virtually as they are being broadcast.”
In ruling against Aereo, however, the justices stressed that new technologies such as cloud computing should not feel constrained. During oral arguments in April, Aereo’s attorney,
David Frederick, had warned that the cloud-computing industry is freaked out about this case. Read More