Streaming video service Aereo is moving ahead with its argument that it should be allowed to resume operations on the grounds that it’s now a “cable system” and entitled to transmit television programs as long as it pays licensing fees. It filed papers with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, saying: “The broadcasters cannot rely on one part of the Supreme Court’s holding while ignoring its logical and necessary corollary.”
In its Aereo ruling last month, the Supreme Court said that Aereo was “highly similar” to a cable system. But now the Copyright Office says it does not “see anything” in the ruling that would cause it to alter its long-standing opposition to extending the cable compulsory license to online distributors. “In the view of the Copyright Office, Internet retransmission of broadcast television falls outside the scope of [the] license,” it said.
After its loss at the Supreme Court, Aereo’s new tack is to declare itself a cable system with the ability to use the compulsory license to cover the liability just as every regular cable systems does. The problem with that is that it has still not acknowledged in any forum that it is willing to accept not only the privileges of being a cable system, most notably the compulsory license, but also the obligations, most notably retransmission consent. Without a commitment to pay retrans, Aereo is simply playing the same old game, trying to skate by without paying for programming.
Aereo, the video streaming service that sought to provide an alternative to traditional television broadcasters, said it believes it can still operate despite a crippling U.S. Supreme Court ruling that caused the company to suspend service, according to a court filing on Wednesday. It is unclear from the filing how Aereo will operate, though the company argued it was entitled to a “compulsory license” to broadcasters’ content.
Now comes the expensive part for Aereo: finding out how much it will have to pay broadcasters after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the television streaming service was illegally retransmitting their TV shows. Lawyers who specialize in copyright cases said the next step in the case will likely have broadcasters back in federal court trying to collect monetary damages, through a trial or by negotiating a settlement with Aereo.
The way I see it, in closing the door on Aereo, the Supreme Court opened wide the door for the video distribution of broadcast signals by settling the question of whether online video distributors are cable systems. Clearly, they are, the court says. So, in effect, an online video distributor that wants to carry a broadcast signal no longer has to worry about clearing copyrights of individual rights holders, including the rapacious sports leagues. It only has to get permission from the broadcasters.
The Supreme Court’s ruling this week upholding broadcasters’ contention that the Aereo streaming service violated their copyrights was a major victory for the television business. The court majority held that Aereo technology created no critical copyright law differences between it and cable systems, which must have broadcasters’ prior consent and pay for use of their programming. Now, it seems likely that Aereo will press its case in Congress to change the federal Copyright Act to legalize Aereo and, in effect, reverse the Supreme Court.
Aereo was still operating Wednesday afternoon, since the U.S. District Court in New York must still implement the Supreme Court’s findings. But Aereo’s options are limited. The ruling may also affect other Internet services, though the Supreme Court did try to limit the scope of its decision. Here’s a closer look at the ruling and what it means for Aereo and Internet users.
The justices said Wednesday by a 6-3 vote that Aereo Inc. is violating the broadcasters’ copyrights by taking the signals for free. The ruling preserves the ability of the television networks to collect huge fees from cable and satellite systems that transmit their programming. Plenty of reaction from both sides.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide as early as tomorrow whether Aereo Inc. can use coin-sized antennas to capture TV signals and sell them over the Internet — without paying broadcasters. That’s not the only thing worrying broadcasters. The FCC has proposed eliminating a 39-year-old rule that bars pay-TV companies such as Comcast and Dish Network from showing NFL games that get blacked out on TV stations whenever the stadiums aren’t sold out.
The court has announced that it will be handing down opinions on June 19, 23 and 30; there’s also the possibility that it will add more dates, although, obviously, time is fast running out. Since the Supremes traditionally resolve all pending cases before they split every year toward the end of June, we can be reasonably confident that the Aereo decision is on its way, real soon. Here are seven separate Aereo-related points about which to speculate and prognosticate.
While broadcasters — including CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC — are hopeful that the Supreme Court will side with them, if not they won’t be throwing in the towel if the court rules in the next few weeks that the streaming service does not violate copyright law.
Attorney Michael Berg, TVNewsCheck‘s Legal Memo columnist, was on hand for the April 22 arguments at the Supreme Court in ABC v. Aereo and he offers his observations on the questions and answers and also details the various friend of the court briefs and other filings made shortly before the hearing. While predicting outcomes from oral arguments is a very risky game, Berg says: “In this case I sensed that the SC majority is unlikely to buy Aereo’s copyright argument that it is just an equipment provider and there is no public performance and therefore no copyright obligations for sale of access to the broadcast signals.”
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Aereo case, providing the first indication of how the justices view the case pitting Aereo against content providers, particularly broadcast networks. What was a bit of a surprise was the extent to which the justices’ questions focused on Aereo’s strategic effort to cloak itself as just another provider of cloud services.
ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC were at the Supreme Court Tuesday, on many levels. Reporters were there to cover the proceedings, lawyers argued on behalf of the networks, and executives sat in to watch the cases for and against Aereo. Two of the three evening newscasts reported on the case last night.
If you thought that the legal dispute between Aereo and the broadcasters was combative, it paled compared with today’s one-hour hearing at the Supreme Court. In oral arguments before the nine Justices, both sides took some heavy blows, but the Barry Diller-backed streaming service definitely took one to the jaw from Chief Justice John Roberts.
Chief Justice John Roberts repeatedly asked whether Aereo’s tiny antennas existed for any reason other than to avoid paying the broadcasters for their content. “Is there any reason you need 10,000 of them?” Roberts said at one point. But several justices expressed concern that a ruling for the broadcasters could hamper the continuing development of cloud computing, which gives users access to a vast online computer network that stores and processes information.
The copyright infringement fight over Aereo, which has had the TV industry buzzing for months, is going to the Supreme Court today: here’s what you need to know.
Here’s a roundup of the activity in March in the Supreme Court’s ABC v. Aereo copyright infringement case with filings by both sides. There were also supporting arguments filed for both broadcasters and Aereo. And finally, there’s a timetable for upcoming activity.
February has been a busy month in the pending ABC v. Aereo Supreme Court (SC) case and there’s plenty on tap for March and April. Here’s a summary of the activity and a preview of what’s next in the case that will decide whether Aereo’s TV station retransmission business is legal or not.