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In a 6-3 ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled Internet streaming service Aereo is illegal, making a victor...
In a 6-3 ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled Internet streaming service Aereo is illegal, making a victory for traditional TV broadcasters in a battle that could have reshaped their business model. Aereo is a subscription service that allows its customers to watch broadcast TV via the internet. From the time it launched in New York in February 2012, the startup has been involved in a number of lawsuits with the broadcast industry, who claim that the service infringes their copyright.
The court found that the company's services violated the Copyright Act by playing back recordings of broadcasters' shows, despite the fact that the shows were captured legally when they aired and then copied for each viewer. Aereo argued that it only provided the technology for subscribers to watch TV, and that subscribers were responsible for playing back the recordings. Unfortunately for Aereo, this system looked a lot like cable to the Supreme Court.
This ruling resembles the Betamax case in 1984, which also led to an area of innovation being stifled when it forced the TV industry out of its comfort zone. Many believe that the Aereo ruling has, in a way, outlawed the future of TV and, furthermore, created a potential legal minefield for cloud storage. By not obtaining clear criteria for what “resembles cable TV,” companies that provide similar services will find themselves targets of similar lawsuits. Aereo had announced that they had no Plan B should they lose this case in court. Unless the company figures out how they can fit broadcast copyright fees into its business model, Aereo’s services will likely end here.