Does every broadcasting station own its content? Barry Diller, who owns a minority interest in cloud TV company Aereo, recently penned an article for The Wall Street Journal titled “Broadcasters Don’t Own the Airwaves”, in which he attempts to answer that question, as well as detailing a suit against his company and the coming trial which will be heard by the Supreme Court on April 22. Aereo is a tech company based out of Long Island City, NY, that allows its users to record or watch live streams of broadcast television on devices connected to the Internet, via the use of a remote antenna. An antenna is leased to each user and is compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux, as well as iOS devices.
According to Diller, the case being heard by the Supreme Court, American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, is aiming to shut the company down on the grounds that Aereo is stealing content from the broadcasters. “This, quite simply, goes against everything the broadcast industry has agreed to over the past 100 years.”, Diller said. Diller’s argument is that the broadcasting companies are attempting to stifle technological innovation, and that their own profits are the reason why. “Why is the industry pushing to punish those who wish to receive their television through airwaves, which are not owned by broadcasters? The answer is obvious: Broadcasters make more money when consumers are steered away from over-the-air program delivery and toward cable and satellite systems that pay the broadcasters retransmission fees.”, Diller said. Diller continues that his company’s service is really not much different than DVR, or any other remote based antennae, and that to argue otherwise threatens the future of cloud computing.
The case against Aereo has been heard before. In 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City rejected an attempt by broadcasters to put Diller out of business, citing no coherent legal basis for the argument. It is Diller’s hope and contention that the Supreme Court will “set them straight.”
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