Advanced Television

Supreme Court to hear Aereo appeal

January 13, 2014

By Colin Mann

aereoThe US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal filed by four major broadcasters against Internet TV streaming service Aereo. Mid-December 2013 Aereo filed a brief with the Court saying that it would no longer oppose an action brought the broadcasters which petitioned the Court to overturn a denied injunction regarding their contention that Aereo operates in breach of copyright.

In a statement, Aereo CEO and Founder Chet Kanojia said: “We said from the beginning that it was our hope that this case would be decided on the merits and not through a wasteful war of attrition. We look forward to presenting our case to the Supreme Court and we have every confidence that the Court will validate and preserve a consumer’s right to access local over-the-air television with an individual antenna, make a personal recording with a DVR, and watch that recording on a device of their choice.

This case is critically important not only to Aereo, but to the entire cloud computing and cloud storage industry. The landmark Second Circuit decision in Cablevision provided much needed clarity for the cloud industry and as a result, helped foster massive investment, growth and innovation in the sector. The challenges outlined in the broadcasters’ filing make clear that they are using Aereo as a proxy to attack Cablevision itself and thus, undermine a critical foundation of the cloud computing and storage industry.

We believe that consumers have a right to use an antenna to access over-the-air television and to make personal recordings of those broadcasts. The broadcasters are asking the Court to deny consumers the ability to use the cloud to access a more modern-day television antenna and DVR. If the broadcasters succeed, the consequences to consumers and the cloud industry are chilling.

We remain unwavering in our confidence that Aereo’s technology falls squarely within the law and our team will continue to work hard to provide our consumers with best-in-class technology that delights and adds meaningful value to their lives.”

The plaintiffs include CBS Broadcasting Inc, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, Comcast Corps’ NBC Universal, and Walt Disney Co’s ABC network.

CBS said in a statement: “We believe that Aereo’s business model, and similar offerings that operate on the same principle, are built on stealing the creative content of others. We are pleased that our case will be heard and we look forward to having our day in court.”

Among organisations who have filed amicus (friend of the court) briefs to show support for the broadcasters include Metro-Goldywn-Mayer Studios, National Football League and Major League Baseball.

CBS’s comment regarding “similar offerings that operate on the same principle” alludes to Alki David-backed FilmOn which is fighting its own copyright battle with the broadcasters.

David described Aereo’s brief asking for a hearing as” vital to the evolution of our technologies and our business as well as to stop some very bad injustices,” claiming that FilmOn had always acted within the scope of the law and that that it was the broadcasters who had resorted to anti-competitive and repeated acts of criminality including cyber attacks, bribery, corruption and threats of violence.

FilmOn is currently awaiting a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which will affect the company’s ability to provide the antenna-based service in nine Western states, including major markets such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle and San Francisco.



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