Supreme Court Reverses Copyright Case With Broad Implications For Internet Users

BY Heather Greenfield
June 25, 2014

Washington – The Supreme Court has reversed a case brought by the TV broadcast industry against an innovative Internet startup, Aereo. The case could have broad implications for Internet users’ cloud services from email to legal movie storage. Many companies rely on the legal underpinnings of the case involving Aereo, which provides dime-sized antennas for customers to receive local broadcast TV signals to watch live, or record to watch later.

 

The arguments before the court centered on whether viewing the content constitutes a “public performance” under copyright law or whether an Aereo subscriber is simply watching publicly-available local broadcast TV with the aid of a remote antenna and DVR.

 

The Computer & Communications Industry Association and the Mozilla Corporation had filed a brief in this copyright case before the U.S. Supreme Court, as the outcome of this case has implications for the overall Internet economy. The brief urged the Court to uphold the Second Circuit’s ruling in favor of Aereo, and stressed the importance of getting this right so as to not to to deter the ongoing growth and development of cloud computing. For the full brief, click here.

 

The following can be attributed to Computer & Communications Industry Association President & CEO Ed Black:

 

“This is a disappointing interpretation of the law for everyone from TV watchers to Internet users to innovators. Aereo offered customers a way to cut the cord on expensive cable bills, and the Supreme Court has just pulled the plug on that.

 

“During arguments in this case, the Justices seemed to express an interest in not harming other Internet services, but the ruling unfortunately does not meet that goal. In the written opinion, a majority disclaimed any intention to regulate other technologies, but the net effect of this ruling casts a pall on investment in any innovation that can be construed to ‘perform’ copyrighted material.

 

“Even as Congress holds hearings on how to move copyright law into the 21st Century, this ruling sends a signal to investors and venture capitalists that their resources in supporting such startups and innovators would be more safely invested elsewhere.”

 

For more background information, CCIA Vice President Matt Schruers explained the importance of this case to the cloud in his DisCo blog post from earlier this year.

http://www.project-disco.org/intellectual-property/030414-why-aereo-matters-to-the-cloud-a-primer/

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