No Aereo Decision Yet

The Supreme Court released three opinions Thursday, but none of them were Aereo. There had been some buzz that the decision was being released, but the court does not provide any advance warning, so that was only speculation.

There are still two more Mondays in the session, and the court could add a Thursday session next week as it has done the previous two.

The court could conceivably hold the decision over until the fall, but that is considered a long shot since it is ruling on an injunction.

Broadcasters claim that Aereo is violating copyright by delivering TV station signals remotely over the Internet without compensating content providers. Aereo had argued that it was simply providing remote access to free TV and the fair use recording right its subs are entitled to.

While the court is being asked to rule on a decision about the injunction, not broadcasters underlying legal challenge, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in denying the injunction, signaled it thought Aereo was legal.  One of the tests for granting an injunction is likelihood of winning on the merits, so the Supremes are expected to weigh in on whether Aereo is violating copyright.

The court also accepted broadcasters' view of the question posed in the case, which was "whether a company 'publicly performs' a copyrighted television program when it retransmits a broadcast of that program to thousands of paid subscribers over the Internet."  That answer clearly implicates the future of online video distribution.

Broadcasters say that answer is clearly yes.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.