The court ruling that sends a ‘chilling message to the technology industry’

E-commerce

by Duncan MacRae| 26 June 2014

Supreme Court declares Aereo TV system illegal.

The US supreme court has ruled against Internet TV service Aereo in a victory for major broadcasters who had argued the service violated their copyright and threatened their businesses.

The court declared that Aereo's service, which transformed over-the-air signals into digital data and used antennas to redistribute it to the mobile devices of subscribers paying as little as $8 a month, is illegal.

Broadcasters CBS, ABC, NBC and PBS had sued Aereo for copyright infringement following a federal appeals court ruling that the service did not violate the copyrights of broadcasters.

Judges voted 6-3 in favour of rejecting the earlier appeals court decision. The verdict means the court sees Aereo as similar to a cable company and, therefore, it must pay for any content it broadcasts.

Chet Kanojia, Aereo's founder and CEO, described the ruling "a massive setback" for consumers, adding that it sends "a chilling message to the technology industry".

He said: "We've said all along that we worked diligently to create a technology that complies with the law, but today's decision clearly states that how the technology works does not matter."

Kanojia added that Aero would "continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world."

But broadcasters were happy to see Aero's disruptive technology - which they feared could spell the end for traditional over-the-air programming - dealt a potentially fatal blow.

CBS president and CEO, Les Moonves, said: "We are very pleased. Justice was served. It's a very good day for our future."

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