By Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday, hearing arguments in a case that could lead to big changes for broadcasters and how we watch TV. But several justices expressed concern that a ruling could hamper future innovation, especially from the cloud computing industry.
KYW tech editor Ian Bush reports the startup at the center of the fight is planning to expand to Philadelphia.
Aereo streams local channels to computers and mobile devices, with subscribers in control of a tiny antenna. Company lawyer David Frederick argues that’s no different than if you put rabbit ears on your TV.
“A person watching over-the-air broadcast television in his or her home is engaging in a private performance, and not a public performance that would implicate the Copyright Act,” Frederick said.
Unlike cable companies, Aereo doesn’t pay fees to networks. But Justice Elena Kagan says on-screen, Aereo looks like cable. Broadcasters’ attorney Paul Clement says the similarities are more than skin deep.
“A service cannot provide live TV over the Internet to thousands of paying strangers without engaging in a public performance,” Clement said.
But Chief Justice John Roberts wondered whether Aereo had any reason to use all those antennas besides making an end run around copyright laws. And Justice Stephen Breyer worried that a decision — expected by the end of June — could have unintended consequences for cloud companies like Dropbox and hamper future innovation.