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Broadcast TV Streamer Aereo Fights for Legal Life

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Aereo can keep streaming live broadcast TV to mobile gadgets and other devices. Larry Greenemeier reports

 

You don’t own a TV, yet you still want to watch The Good Wife and Dancing with the Stars live. Or you have a TV, but no cable and no antenna access to local channels. The solution could be the streaming video service from the company Aereo. It sends over-the-air channels to anything from your smartphone to your TV monitor.
 
Well, that’s if the broadcasters suing Aereo don’t put the company out of business by the end of the month.
 
Aereo’s existence hinges on an April 22 Supreme Court hearing, when the justices will decide whether the company’s service violates copyright law. Aereo argues it lets people watch and record broadcast TV via a cloud-based antenna and DVR for their own personal use. Broadcasters counter that Aereo is using their content without paying the retransmission fees that cable and satellite providers do.
 
Although Aereo operates in 13 U.S. cities, lower courts have shut the company out of several western states, including California. And whether you have Aereo or not, you still can’t watch the Supreme Court hearing—the justices still don’t allow their proceedings to be televised.
 
—Larry Greenemeier
 
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

[Editor’s Note (6/26/14): The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 25 by a vote of 6 to 3 that Aereo must, like cable companies, pay networks to transmit their content. This doesn’t fit well with Aereo’s business model, as customers pay only $8 per month for the company’s service. At issue was Aereo’s broadcasting of copyrighted material that it neither owns nor licenses. Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia has vowed to “continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world.” How he plans to do this is unclear.]

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