Technology trade association the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has welcomed the announcement by the Supreme Court of the United States that it will hear a lawsuit brought by the nation’s largest television broadcasters against streaming video service Aereo and has urged the Court to rule on behalf of consumer rights and innovation.
CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro said:
“We are glad that the Supreme Court has taken this case, and we hope that it will rule for Aereo, innovation and consumers.
“The US federal government has given local television broadcasters billions of dollars in valuable public spectrum. In return, broadcasters are required to make free over-the-air (OTA) television available to anyone in their geographic area. Aereo simply allows viewers in the broadcaster’s area the flexibility and choice to watch that very same free television programming on tablets, smartphones, computers, and other new products.
“Broadcasters’ contention that watching free OTA television via a remote service is somehow infringing ignores the law, precedent and their obligation to provide free over-the-air broadcasting. A Supreme Court ruling in favour of the broadcasters would undercut the Court’s Cablevision decision, which has unleashed a wave of investment and innovation in the cloud computing industry. Such a decision would lock in legacy technologies, and prevent viewers from taking advantage of mobile and other products that we already take for granted.
“It is notable that this case comes before the Supreme Court as we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Court’s landmark decision in the Sony Betamax case. In Sony, the Court ruled on behalf of consumer rights and innovation, as we urge them to do in Aereo. Indeed, Aereo is just the latest in a line of innovations that broadcasters claimed would kill their industry. Instead, cable TV, the Betamax and the DVR gave the broadcasters new revenue streams and new audiences.
“Some television networks have claimed they will halt OTA broadcasting if Aereo is found to be legal. If these networks do not believe that broadcasting is a viable business, we encourage them to relinquish their spectrum for wireless Internet and other productive uses.
“New technologies arrive, human progress moves forward, and society benefits. No industry has the right to have its existing model preserved unchanged forever. If the broadcasters wish to be a successful digital-age industry, they must embrace innovation, not litigation.”