U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo — Huge Victory for Broadcasters

Jun 25, 2014  •  Post A Comment

"In a big win for broadcasters, the Supreme Court has reversed a lower court ruling denying broadcasters' injunction against the [Aereo] service," Broadcasting & Cable reports.

The story says, "The decision was 6-3, with Justice Breyer delivering the opinion. Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito dissented."

The article reports: "The court ruled that Aereo provides a public performance, not a private one, as Aereo had asserted. 'The statute makes clear that the fact that Aereo’s subscribers may receive the same programs at different times and locations is of no consequence. Aereo transmits a performance of petitioners’ works “to the public,”' Breyer wrote for the majority.

"The court went out of its way to say that the ruling was a narrow one that should not discourage technological innovation."

Dissenting was Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Thomas and Justice Alito.

Scalia wrote: "This case is the latest skirmish in the long-running copyright battle over the delivery of television programming. Petitioners, a collection of television networks and affiliates (Networks), broadcast copyrighted programs on the public airwaves for all to see. Aereo, respondent, operates an automated system that allows subscribers to receive, on Internet-connected devices, programs that they select, including the Networks’ copyrighted programs.

"The Networks sued Aereo for several forms of copyright infringement, but we are here concerned with a single claim: that Aereo violates the Networks’ “exclusive righ[t]” to “perform” their programs “publicly.” 17 U. S. C. §106(4). That claim fails at the very outset because Aereo does not “perform” at all. The Court manages to reach the opposite conclusion only by disregarding widely accepted rules for service-provider liability and adopting in their place an improvised standard (“looks-like-cable-TV”) that will sow confusion for years to come."

The full opinion, including the dissent, is available if you click here.

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