It’s over for Aereo. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled today that the start-up streaming service violates TV networks’ copyright laws by capturing broadcast signals on miniature antennas and retransmitting them to subscribers for an $8 to $12 monthly fee.
Aereo had argued that it was an “equipment provider” that allowed individual subscribers to use dime-sized antennas to access broadcast content, just like they would with a regular antenna.
But the judges determined that wasn’t the case:
“Because Aereo’s activities are substantially similar to those of the CATV companies that Congress amended the Act to reach, Aereo is not simply an equipment provider. Aereo sells a service that allows subscribers to watch television programs, many of which are copyrighted, virtually as they are being broadcast.”
This is a major victory for TV broadcasters, including ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, Univision, Telemundo and PBS that had been battling Aereo in court over copyright infringement.
Both Univision and Telemundo were petitioners in the American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo case.
At stake was the network’s ability to hold on to an estimated $3 billion in re-transmission fees they get from cable and satellite TV providers.
Last year, several companies, including Univision, threatened to take their networks to cable if Aereo succeeded in defending its position in court.
Univision issued this statement on the Aereo ruling:
“Univision Communications is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold our country’s well-established and critically important copyright laws. This is a major victory for all consumers and content creators.”
Some experts say the decision will cause “a ripple effect in the industry.” The main concern is how this decision will affect the future of cloud computing.
Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the 18-page majority opinion, affirmed that the court doesn’t intend to call cloud computing into question, but Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.
Media mogul Barry Diller, who backed Aereo, has repeatedly said that the Supreme Court decision would be final, but CNBC reports the company’s CEO, Chet Kanojia has said their work “is not done.”
You can read the entire Supreme Court opinion here.
** This story was updated with a statement from Univision.