The US Supreme Court has ruled that Aereo is in violation of copyright law. Created in 2012, Aereo allows users to watch broadcast TV on internet-connected devices via tiny digital antennas. US broadcasters including ABC, Fox, and PBS, had sued over the firm’s business model.
The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that Aereo must pay broadcasters when it streams TV, and that the company is violating broadcasters’ copyrights by taking signals for free.
Many broadcasters had argued that Aereo’s service was making a ‘public performance’ of their shows, something that would be covered by copyright law. Aereo responded that its antennae meant it was not facilitating a public performance, as each antenna is only used by one subscriber at a time. The firm asserted that this was similar to a viewer using an antenna at home to watch freely available over-the-air broadcasts.
Many broadcasters celebrated the decision, including Piksel, a global provider of video monetisation software and services.
Alan Wolk, global lead analyst at Piksel, has been following the case, and commented: “Aereo was a direct and immediate threat to the content industry’s revenue. Today’s decision hints at the fact that the justices have understood that Aereo was invented to circumvent the retransmission fees that cable and satellite companies pay the TV networks to distribute their content. This may be a setback for Barry Diller and other Aereo investors, but it is certainly a good day for broadcast networks, which will stay assured of their revenue as the TV industrial complex withstands yet another attack on its foundation. It is unlikely, however, that Aereo will be the last initiative to bring broadcast TV to the internet for free, so this remains a fascinating space to continue watching.”