Aereo, the startup that threatened to upend traditional television broadcasting by capturing over-the-air TV signals and streaming them on the Internet, has been dealt a crushing defeat by the Supreme Court after justices ruled 6 to 3 that the online television service violated copyrights by streaming broadcast channels to customers.
The decision is a victory for broadcasters that have battled Aereo in court for two years. The ability for Aereo to circumvent the retransmission fee system, in which cable operators pay to rebroadcast free-to-air television, had threatened a major revenue source for broadcasters.
The ruling could be a death blow to Aereo, as founder Chet Kanojia has said the company had prepared no “Plan B” in case of defeat and Barry Diller, whose IAC backs Aereo, has admitted the company would be “finished.” Those claims have been countered by some analysts who say that the company could become licensed as a cable operator, gain the necessary licensing and negotiate with broadcasters.
The Supreme Court decision reverses rulings from a federal court and a second circuit court of appeals that found Aereo did not violate copyright protections. Aereo had suffered some legal setbacks including a judge that ordered Aereo to halt service in Utah.
Update: Supreme Court Decided Aero/Internet Broadcasting Is Infringing The Law.
The Aero broadcast TV right case asks if a startup internet company can retransmit TV signals and charge subscribers without compensating broadcasters. Also cell phone privacy and how far governments can go in balancing privacy and technology.