Saturday, January 11, 2014

Supreme Court Will Consider Landmark Case of Free TV Streaming

Posted By on Sat, Jan 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM

In what's expected to be a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case of a start-up Internet company and major broadcasting networks which claim their very survival hangs in the balance of so-called "free TV streaming."

Aereo is a New York-based company that uses small antennas to pick up over-the-air television signals and then allows its customers to store them for later viewing. Aereo maintains that its service is perfectly legal since it uses signals that any customer could obtain for free through a traditional TV antenna.

But ABC, CBS,Fox, NBC and PBS are threatening that they would consider pulling the plug on their free airwaves altogether and become pay cable channels if the Supreme Court were to decide in favor of Aereo.

The networks lost a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal ruling in 2013, when justices said Aereo “transmits unique copies of broadcasts over the Internet” to individuals, so these are not “public” showings.

Taking their appeal to the Supreme Court, the broadcasters said the decision, unless revised, would “profoundly affect, and potentially endanger, over-the-air broadcast television.”

Lawyers for Aereo argued broadcasters have to live with the “essential bargain” they made years ago to send out free broadcasts in exchange for use of “public spectrum worth billions of dollars.”

The U.S. Supreme Court said it would hear the case of ABC vs. Aereo in late April and issue a ruling by late June.

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