Aereo Loses Supreme Court Fight Against Broadcasters

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Aereo has to pay broadcasters to retransmit their television programs through its cloud service so subscribers can watch their favorite shows on mobile devices. Six of the nine justices decided the Internet startup was violating broadcastersEU copyrights by taking their signals without offering payment.

With Aereo, consumers can pause, rewind and fast-forward any program that they are watching live, or save programs for future viewing. Aereo membership starts at $8 a month. Aereo is available in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Miami, Houston and Dallas. But more cities were in the works. Now, the future of the company is uncertain.

Although Aereo CEO and Founder, Chet Kanojia, was confident the high court would validate and preserve a consumerEUs right to access local over-the-air television using an individual antenna, make a personal recording with a DVR, and watch that recording on a device of his choice, a majority of justices didnEUt agree with his companyEUs argument.

A Massive Setback

EUAereoEUs activities are substantially similar to the (cable) companies that Congress amended the (Copyright) Act to reach,EU Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority. EUAereo is not simply an equipment provider,EU Breyer reasoned, adding that EUwhen Aereo streams the same television program to multiple subscribers, it transmits a performance to all of them.EU

EUThe networks make dire predictions about Aereo,EU Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in dissent. EUWe are in no position to judge the validity of those self-interested claims or to foresee the path of future technological development.EU

Of course, Kanojia feels Scalia got it right, calling out the majorityEUs opinion as EUbuilt on the shakiest of foundations.EU Scalia also said, EUThe Court vows that its ruling will not affect cloud-storage providers and cable television systems, but it cannot deliver on that promise given the imprecision of...

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