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Supreme Court Rules Against Streaming Startup Aereo

June 25, 2014

Supreme Court Rules Against Streaming Startup Aereo

June 25, 2014

The Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 against Aereo, ScotusBLOG reports.

Aereo uses tiny antennas to provide subscribers with broadcast network content via the Internet.

On a 6-3 vote, the court handed a victory to the four major TV broadcasters and cast Aereo’s immediate future into doubt. Justices Breyer, Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan ruled against Aereo; conservative Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito filed a dissent. 

Aereo was launched in 2012 as a service that let viewers watch and record live TV on their televisions, computers, smartphones, and tablets. Each viewer is assigned a small antenna, housed in a warehouse, that beams the broadcasts of ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and other networks over the Internet. Subscribers paid $8 per month for the service.

As Yahoo Finance’s Aaron Pressman notes, the service was popular with so-called “cord cutters,” or people who didn’t want to pay for cable television and sought ways around it, including Netflix, Hulu, and content available on Roku boxes and Apple TV. 

Aereo compared its service to owning an antenna that you attached to your television; the networks almost immediately protested and sued Aereo for infringement. 

Aereo founder Chet Kanojia explained how the technology works in an interview with Yahoo’s Katie Couric below:

Couric also asked Kanojia what his company would do if it lost:

The Court found that “Aereo neither owns the copyright” of the works it broadcasts nor “holds a license from the copyright owners” to broadcast them publicly. 

The ruling concludes that the High Court “does not believe its decision will discourage the emergence or use of different kinds of technologies.”