Networks slam Aereo in Supreme Court response

By Daniel S Levine,

The major broadcast networks’ war of words with Aereo continued in reply to Aereo's response to the networks’ call for a Supreme Court ruling on the dispute. Aereo has claimed that it is just another way for consumers to access free over-the-air broadcasts, but the networks say that it is just another subscription service that should be paying the same high licensing fees the cable companies do.

Back in October, ABC, Fox, CBS and NBCUniversal petitioned the Supreme Court to make a final ruling on the dispute. Undeterred, Aereo responded by welcoming the fight, which would follow several lower court victories.

“While the law is clear and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and two different federal courts have ruled in favor of Aereo, broadcasters appear determined to keep litigating the same issues against Aereo in every jurisdiction that we enter,” CEO Chet Kanojia said in the brief earlier this month. “We want this resolved on the merits rather than through a wasteful war of attrition.”

In their response to that brief, the networks said they agree on only one thing with Aereo: the Supreme Court should make a decision to end the dispute once and for all. But, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the networks criticized each point Aereo made in its brief. They also wanted to make it clear what the issue is in the first place.

According to the networks, that issue is “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.”

Deadline notes that the networks also defined what Aereo is to them - a subscription service, not just a piece of technology that gives people access to the public airways. “Make no mistake about it. Aereo is not a hardware supplier. It offers a subscription service,” the brief reads.

One of the main sticking points for the networks is that Aereo offers a DVR service, so it’s not just allowing people to stream live television.

Even with the legal battle going on, Aereo continues to expand out of New York, and is now available in Boston, Denver, Dallas, Miami and in other cities.

image: Aereo.com


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