American Justices criticised Aereo for exploiting loopholes, but remain concerned about consumer rights.
Justices of the US Supreme Court expressed concern yesterday about what effect their ruling on the case between Aereo and several broadcast networks could have for cloud services.
Aereo offers its customers a means of watching and recording live TV from their mobiles, computers and tablets, via content streamed from a cloud service.
In statement in January, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said: "Consumers have the right to use an antenna to access the over-the-air television. It is a right that should be protected and preserved and in fact, has been protected for generations by Congress."
To provide the service, Aereo sets up a series of finger-tip sized antennas in a given city, using them to beam video to the cloud where it is either recorded for later viewing or beamed to a user’s device with a slight delay.
It is this process of retransmission that has caused controversy between the broadcasting networks and Aereo, with the company refusing to pay network fees normally associated with retransmission.
Criticising the company, Chief Justice John Roberts said: "If your model is correct, can’t you just put your antenna up and then do it? I mean, there’s no technological reason for you to have 10,000 dime-sized antenna, other than to get around the copyright laws."
The service is available in select cities in the US, including New York, Miami and Dallas, with customers paying $8 to $12 per month.
According to the Wrap, justices are worried that any decision they might make could have profound effects on consumers’ ability to remotely store media, with some questioning how they can write a law that exclusively targets Aereo.
Justice Elena Kagan asked what the difference was between relaying information remotely and domestically. Customers are currently free to stream content between their devices within their own home.
Broadcasting networks are expected to move their services away from over-the-air transmission and onto cable if their case is rejected, safeguarding their products from being accessed by Aereo.
Aereo previously won two similar cases at federal level, leading Kanojia to criticise broadcasters "determined to keep litigating the same issues against Aereo in every jurisdiction that we enter".
"As I’ve said before, an Aereo win is a consumer win. This is an ongoing battle but together we can protect innovation, progress, and consumer choice," he added.