In American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo, the Supreme Court ruled that Aereo infringed copyrights by transmitting, nearly in real time, the broadcasts of ABC and other television content providers. Professor Eric Goldman discusses the Aereo decision and what it may mean for Aereo and other alternative television services.
Goldman opines that this is almost certain to eliminate Aereo, and its competitors, from the marketplace. Goldman suggests that the ruling might also cause trouble for DVR providers and for in-line video streamers. Aereo could probably continue in business by seeking licenses from broadcasters, but that would raise prices, and there is no present indication that Aereo is inclined to take that route.
Goldman points out that Aereo solved problems for some people who live in apartment buildings and are unable to put up an antenna to receive over-the-air television signals. And there is an increasing desire by some people “to cut the cable cord,” in part because of the increasing price of cable. Also, people are happy with the combination of over-the-air content from services like Aereo and online content from services like Netflix and YouTube.
Goldman is not certain whether this ruling will hurt innovation in the television industry. “One possibility is that the courts will read the ruling to apply to anyone who tries to do anything tricky.” That approach could be very detrimental to any experimenting in the business of providing television content in new ways. The fight may not be over.
Eric Goldman is a Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law, where he is also Director of the school’s High Tech Law Institute. His research and teaching focuses on Internet law, intellectual property and marketing law. The Legal Broadcast Network, provides online, on-demand, legal video content, provided by attorneys, law professors and others from around the world. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.