Jason Bloom in Forbes: Aereo Loses Big As Supreme Court Calls It Equivalent To Cable TV

06/26/2014


Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed startup that thought it found a way around copyright laws by giving every subscriber their own dime-sized television antenna mounted in a server rack, was dealt a potentially fatal blow by the U.S. Supreme Court in a decision that likened the streaming service to conventional cable TV.

The court, in a 6-3 decision penned by Justice Stephen Breyer, reversed a controversial Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held Aereo didn’t violate copyright laws. The Supreme Court ruled that Aereo’s complicated system of miniature TV antennas and internet links to individual subscribers was the equivalent of a “public performance,” similar to the type Congress deliberately included in revisions to the copyright laws...

The decision definitely could cause trouble for some cloud-based services, said Jason Bloom, a partner with Haynes and Boone, LLP in Dallas. The majority opinion is “results oriented” and uses existing copyright law to capture Aereo’s technology, but Bloom said it could be used against any service that allows its users to traffic in infringing materials. Internet service providers and websites like YouTube are largely insulated against copyright suits by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which exempts them as long as they take down materials their users put up at a copyright holder’s request.

“What the cloud does and what Aereo does are much more similar than what the cloud and an internet service provider does,” Bloom said, however. If enough users uploaded a bootleg copy of a movie to iCloud and then distributed it to their friends, that might also cross the line into a “public performance” under the court’s reasoning today, he said.

Excerpted from Forbes, June 26, 2014. To view full article, click here.

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