Aereo loses Supreme Court Case, deemed illegal

In a ruling today the US Supreme Court has ruled that Aereo has been acting illegally. The service, which transmits television broadcasts over the internet, has been deemed to be a public performance and therefore is contravening copyright law by not paying transmission fees. This leaves Aereo with an uncertain future, with the chief executive officer Chet Kanojia having told CNET that the company doesn’t have a plan to fall back on if the Court decided again them.

The 1976 Copyright Act prohibits a performance or display of any televised work without the permission of the copyright holder. This is the same law that forces cable companies to pay transmission fees to broadcasters in order to be able to transmit their programs. The Supreme Court ruling effectively puts Aereo in the same bracket as cable companies. Engadget reports Associate Justice Stephen as stating: “Aereo’s activities are substantially similar to those of the [cable television] companies that Congress amended the Act to reach.” The ruling in favor of broadcasters could have far reaching consequences for other services that offer the ability to watch and record television over the internet.

Aereo launched in 2012 and works in a similar way to DVR set top boxes. The service offers a remote antenna to each customer allowing them to view live televisions broadcasts or record them. Any video recorded is stored on cloud servers that customers can then use to watch television shows whenever they want.

While its availability is limited in many states across the U.S. it has still managed to garner positive reactions thanks to excellent video quality and the ability to access the service on a number of devices. Aereo officially supports PC’s running Windows, Mac and Linux as well as iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. The service offers access to a total of 28 channels with pricing options available for cloud storage starting at $8 for 20 hours of video.