Washington – The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in a case that could impact the future of cloud computing and TV watching. The Aereo case could turn on how the justices interpret the definition of a public performance – whether Internet users transmitting content to themselves constitutes a public performance, which means they could face fees whenever that content is accessed.

Aereo’s technology lets users receive free, over-the-air broadcast television on Internet-enabled devices, basically by renting them a dime-sized antenna that can be tuned to the subscriber’s local broadcasts. Many cloud-based products that include iCloud, SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and web-based apps like email operate in similar ways.

During the oral arguments today several Justices asked questions that showed understanding and concern for the impact this case could have on cloud computing.

One Justice asked about two examples that were in an amicus brief the Computer & Communications Industry Association and Mozilla filed urging the Court to uphold the Second Circuit’s ruling in favor of Aereo. For the full brief, click here.

The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“These are the public’s airwaves.  The public should be able receive them using 21st century technology.”

“The case has ramifications reaching far beyond the future of Aereo and change- resistant broadcasters. It’s about the future of an essential aspect of Internet commerce: cloud computing.  Many companies connect consumers to legal content stored on cloud servers on an ongoing basis.  Whether it is their personal files or material broadcast on public airwaves the same legal framework supports these business models, and is important to both citizen and business consumers of such services.

“It’s important that the court not let anachronistic protectionist concepts cripple business evolution including the development of cloud computing and the consumer and economic benefits that come with it.”

For more background on this case and what it means, see CCIA Vice President Matt Schruers’ DisCo blog post this morning.

 

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