Aereo case reaches Supreme Court


The US Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in a dispute that will decide whether TV streaming service Aereo infringes copyright.

Arguments in the case, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc, will begin this morning, April 22, at the court in Washington, DC.

Aereo captures TV broadcasts and retransmits them over the internet, allowing subscribers to watch and record live programmes.

Its subscribers pay between $8 and $12 a month for the service but Aereo does not pay licensing fees to the original broadcasters.

Several US broadcasters, including ABC and Fox, have claimed the service infringes their copyright.

The court agreed to hear the case in January this year when the broadcasters filed a petition for writ of certiorari following a ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that backed Aereo and rejected calls for a preliminary injunction against it.

In their writ, the broadcasters have asked the Supreme Court to consider one question: “Whether a company ‘publicly performs’ a copyrighted television program when it retransmits a broadcast of that program to thousands of paid subscribers over the internet”.

However, in a pre-trial brief submitted last month, Aereo denied its performances were public and that therefore they do not infringe copyright.

“Although a ‘performance’ occurs when a consumer uses Aereo’s technology, that performance is ‘private’ and therefore lawful,” Aereo said, claiming the broadcasters’ arguments had “no merit”.

Last month, the US government threw its hat into the ring when it filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, claiming the Aereo model “clearly infringes” copyright.

A final decision is not expected until June. 

This story was first reported on WIPR.

Fox, ABC, US Supreme Court, copyright infringement.

More on this story

Aereo case argued in Supreme Court

Trademarks and Brands Online