An online service that allows monthly subscribers to record TV programs and watch them later on any Internet connected device won a key court victory today. The Court of Appeals for the Second upheld a lower court ruling that went against those arguing that Aereo’s service breaks copyright law.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association had filed an amicus brief in the Aereo case, asking for today’s outcome — that the lower court ruling be upheld. CCIA explained in its brief that many companies beyond Aereo had relied on the interpretation of copyright law from the 2008 Cablevision case that helped define the difference between public and private performances on the Internet. This was a key decision for people who use the various personal music lockers online and also for companies that sprung up to offer cloud services after the Cablevision case. CCIA offered a study it commissioned by Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner that quantified the jump in venture capital investment in cloud computing after the Cablevision ruling. The Cablevision ruling could have been narrowed or compromised had the appeals court not upheld the Aereo decision.
The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:
“This case was not just about broadcast television; it was a test of the legitimacy of the cloud computing industry. Today, the Second Circuit agreed with us that users should be able to access their own, lawfully-acquired content in the cloud without the fear of being branded pirates.”
“As technology evolves, the battles to block it are unfortunately similar to those faced decades ago. Too often still, some entrenched businesses would rather sue than evolve. We saw that in the 1980s when TV and movie makers tried to block the Betamax so consumers couldn’t record content to watch later and again with the Aereo case as more people use the Internet to watch programs later. Today’s ruling is a victory for consumers, but also for the growing cloud industry that will now be able to better offer opportunities for them to watch the content they want on the device of their choice.”
The following can be attributed to CCIA Vice President Matt Schruers:
“Today’s decision reaffirms the Cablevision principle. Cablevision established that when an online service makes a user-made copy available to the user, this is not a performance ‘to the public’ of that content for purposes of copyright law. This is one of the primary functions of cloud computing services: making copies of users’ files available to those users over the Internet. To have resolved this case any other way would have cast a shadow of uncertainty over an extraordinary trend of investment and growth in the cloud computing sector.”