Obama administration takes sides in Aereo case, supports broadcast networks

By Daniel Levine,

The Obama administration has taken sides in the major networks’ case against Aereo, the Internet TV provider that has brought the ire of all four networks. The case against Aereo is going all the way to the Supreme Court and Justice Department said today that to agrees that Aereo is violating copyright laws.

Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler sent a ‘friend of the court’ brief on Tuesday, saying that what Aereo is doing is broadcasting television as a public performance, which means that Aereo should be paying the copyright holders of the content, notes CNET.

The joint filing by the Justice Department and the Copyright Office said that the “system is clearly infringing,” reports CNN Money. The administration suggests that the Court overrule the previous lower court rulings, which had previously sided with Aereo.

Oral arguments in the case begin on April 22. All four networks - ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox - have joined the case.

Aereo claims that it is just another system for viewers to get access to the free over-the-air broadcasts. It claims that its tiny antennas are just like old TV antennas and should be treated as such. These antennas are used to receive the broadcasts, which are then streamed to an individual subscriber.

Aereo isn’t paying the large retransmission fees that traditional TV providers do, which allows them to keep the subscription fees down. Of course, retransmission fees are a major source of revenue now for the networks.

On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a filing from FilmOn X to join the case on Aereo’s side. It is a similar service and it believed that the case would also impact its business practices.

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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