The Supreme Court delivered a major victory to the nation’s television networks on Wednesday, ruling that an upstart Internet company is violating copyright laws by transmitting programs without paying hefty licensing fees.
In a 6-to-3 decision that kept the TV industry’s business model essentially intact, the court said that Aereo — a two-year-old start-up that streams shows to tablets, laptops and other devices — must pay the networks for content, as cable systems do.
“Much of this programming is made up of copyrighted works. Aereo neither owns the copyright in those works nor holds a license . . . to perform those works publicly,’’ Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the majority, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The decision dealt a potential death blow to Aereo and could discourage millions of consumers who have been increasingly clamoring for the type of service the company provides — sports and other live television streamed online, without the cost of a cable television bundle. If the ruling had gone the other way, it could have upended a television industry that has grown fearful of the disruptive force of Internet video.
Aereo chief executive Chet Kanojia called the decision “a massive setback for the American consumer.’’ Though he vowed that the New York-based firm’s “work is not done,’’ media mogul Barry Diller, a major investor in Aereo, signaled that company had probably lost its effort to take on the titans of U.S. broadcasting.
Source: Washington Post