Aereo is confident that it’ll score a victory from Supreme Court justices that are currently deciding whether the “TV anywhere” service infringes on copyrights owned by major TV broadcast stations like ABC.
Aereo enables people within a set local region stream and record video content that’s freely broadcasted over the air. It does this by using tiny antennas for each person that subscribes to its $8 monthly service. Big media companies that own broadcast TV stations (such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox) say access to the over-the-air content isn’t free, and they have taken Aereo to court many times over the last year citing copyright infringement. Broadcasters think Aereo should pay licensing fees as well as damages for the time in which the service has operated without paying licensing fees.
Both sides, however, seem to welcome a final decision from the high court.
Aereo general counsel David Frederick released the following statement in regard to today’s potentially landmark trial:
“From our perspective, the issue in the case was whether consumers who have always had a right to have an antenna and a DVR in their home and make copies of local over-the-air broadcast television, if that right should be infringed at all simply by moving the antenna and DVR to the cloud.
“The court’s decision today will have significant consequences for cloud computing. We’re confident, cautiously optimistic, based on the way the hearing went today that the Court understood that a person watching over-the-air broadcast television in his or her home is engaging in a private performance and not a public performance that would implicate the Copyright Act.”
A verdict likely won’t be reached for several months, but the final decision could have serious implications for the future of the TV industry.
A win for Aereo could cause major broadcasters like Fox and CBS to rip all of their programming from the over-the-air broadcast stations in favor of becoming a cable channel. It would also mean that TV service providers would no longer be forced to pay licensing fees on stations that were available via free broadcasts, provided they had the technology to capture the broadcast signal and redistribute it as Aereo is doing.
However, if the high court deems the copyright infringement claims valid, Aereo could shut down. Also, consumers could face a new set of guidelines to follow when it comes to recording live TV programming from over the air.