A letter posted to the Aereo blog on Saturday announced that the streaming television company is suspending operations. A version of the letter replaced the company’s main web page on Saturday as well.
Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia stated on Saturday, “We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps.”
Supreme Court rules against Aereo
The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Aereo was violating copyright law by streaming broadcast television signals to subscribers without paying for them.
In a 6 – 3 vote, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan sided with broadcasters, in ruling that there was “no critical difference” between Aereo’s businesses model and that of a cable company, which is bound by law to pay retransmission fees to broadcasters.
Aereo claimed they were “using technology to create a smart, cloud-based television antenna consumers could use to access live over the air broadcast television.”
Broadcast signals owned by the major broadcast television networks are transmitted through the air free of charge to anyone with a television and an antenna.
Cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner pay the television networks billions of dollars in fees for the right to re-broadcast the network TV channels as part of paid cable packages.
Aereo claim of antenna arrays
Aereo used antenna arrays filled with thousands of mini-TV antennas. The recorded or live broadcast was streamed over the Internet to a compatible device. Although every user was issued an antenna, they only needed an Aereo compatible device which could use their web based interface to use the service.
Because each Aereo user was assigned their own individual mini-antenna, Aereo argued that the fees paid for the use of the equipment, not for the use of the broadcast signals.
With the current Aereo business model shot down by the Supreme Court there does not appear to be much left for Aereo to do.
Aereo has created the website ProtectMyAntenna.org to explain their technology, as well as update their supporters on the ongoing legal battle to keep the company alive.
Launched in 2012, Aereo was backed by Barry Diller(3), a media executive who was once Chief Executive Officer of Paramount Pictures Corporation, Chief Executive Officer of Fox, and owner of USA Broadcasting. Diller is quoted on Wednesday in Time magazine as saying in regards to Aereo, “It’s over now.”
Newsworthy week by SCOTUS
The Aereo ruling was not the only ruling handed down this week in the Supreme Court of the United States. Another case decide this week could have major implications on privacy issues.
Check out, “Technology privacy victory as Supreme Court protects cellphone data.”
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