Supreme Court will make decision in networks’ battle against Aereo

By Daniel S Levine,

The networks’ battle with Internet TV upstart Aereo will go the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court justices said Friday that it will take up the case, in which the networks are trying to shut down Aereo.

All four networks - Disney’s ABC, CBS Corp., 21st Century Inc.’s Fox and Comcast’s NBC - are trying to get Aereo to stop operations. The networks say that Aereo avoids charging its customers high fees like the cable and satellite providers because it doesn’t pay the same licensing fees. Aereo has defended itself by saying that it is merely another tool consumers can use to access the free over-the-air broadcasts. Of course, it also gives consumers DVR capabilities, another major sticking point with the networks.

In October, the four networks petitioned the Supreme Court to take their case, after lower courts ruled in Aereo’s favor. Aereo later responded, saying that it welcomes the fight. The networks actually slammed Aereo’s response in another brief.

Now, the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case, reports Bloomberg. As part of the usual Supreme Court calendar, they will hear arguments in April, but a decision will not be reached until July.

Variety reports that the specific case the Court is taking is ABC Television Stations vs. Aereo, which relates to the New York market, citing violations under the Copyright Act for public performance.

Fox, Univision, PBS and other plaintiffs said that they are happy that the Court is taking on the case, noting, “We are confident the court will recognize that this has never been about stifling new video distribution technologies, but has always been about stopping a copyright violator who redistributes television programming without permission or compensation.”

“We look forward to presenting our case to the Supreme Court and we have every confidence that the court will validate and preserve a consumer’s right to access local over-the-air television with an individual antenna, make a personal recording with a DVR, and watch that recording on a device of their choice,” Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said.

image: Aereo.com



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