Aereo: SCOTUS Ruling Sends “Chilling Message” To Tech Industry

aereoAs you’ve probably heard, earlier today the Supreme Court plunged a shiv into the gut of Aereo, siding with the broadcast networks in their lawsuit against the streaming video startup. Not surprisingly, the company’s CEO, who previously said he had no Plan B if the decision went against Aereo, is not exactly happy with the court’s divided ruling.

“Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court is a massive setback for the American consumer,” says CEO Chet Kanojia in a statement. “We’ve said all along that we worked diligently to create a technology that complies with the law, but today’s decision clearly states that how the technology works does not matter. This sends a chilling message to the technology industry.”

Kanojia takes particular issue with a statement from Justice Breyer’s opinion for the 6-justice majority.

“[T]o the extent commercial actors or other interested entities may be concerned with the relationship between the development and use of such technologies and the Copyright Act, they are of course free to seek action from Congress,” reads the majority opinion.

To which Kanojia asks, “Are we moving towards a permission-based system for technology innovation?”

Indeed, Breyer’s statement does seem to imply that if a new technology wants to question the parameters of existing copyright law, it should get Congress to change the law first.

“Justice Scalia’s dissent gets its right,” writes Kanojia, quoting Scalia’s assertion that Breyer’s opinion is “built on the shakiest of foundations.”

He also quotes Scalia’s concerns that while the majority opinion says that the ruling does not directly affect cloud-based storage and computing systems, “it cannot deliver on that promise given the imprecision of its results-driven rule.”

“We are disappointed in the outcome, but our work is not done,” concludes Kanojia, who does not provide specifics on what direction the company could choose to follow in the wake of the ruling. “We will continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world.”

Aereo: Saving the world… by providing a service that millions of people want but which six codgers in D.C. say is illegal because they don’t have a basic understanding of 21st Century technology.

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  1. Mokona512 says:

    This was bound to happen since these companies lobby heavily to get preferential treatment from the government. so while what aereo was doing, was essentially taking a TV antenna and DVR and essentially replacing the HDMI cable with an ethernet cable leading to the user, The act of streaming the content and the lack of understanding to technology by the people running the court system, it allows the TV networks to trick them into believing that it is still content infringement.

    This likely happened due to the insanely high price that aereo was charging (basically netflix like pricing to simply rent an antenna and possibly a little bit of server space for DVR functions (assuming that they were not already sharing 1 DVR copy with multiple users). With that type of pricing, you can bet that those networks would be pissed off ad not getting a share of it.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      It’s not just the antenna and the server space. Even if you ignore startup/overhead costs, the infrastructure for streaming video has to be so much more robust than that for most web content, where the usual pattern is to load a page that’s a (very) few kilobyes, sit there and interact with it locally (reading and scrolling) for seconds or even minutes, then load another piece of static content. Streaming is fairly fault-intolerant by comparison, too.

  2. dullard8 says:

    This seems to me to be a case of leveling the playing field. What Aereo is doing is no different that what the cable, satellite and telephone companies are doing, rebroadcasting. The fact that Aereo used a different technology shouldn’t make a difference. What the Court is saying is that you can’t do something indirectly that you can’t do directly.

    Is it a negative for the consumer? To some degree, but the decision does reflect the current state of the law.

  3. SuperSpeedBump says:

    That’s ok… I’ll build my own Aereo.

    My parents live in the “sweet spot” in their state, so they get all kinds of channels with excellent reception. I’ll just setup a remote DVR at their place and have it upload recorded content to my Home PC a few states over!