Supreme Court ruling kills Aereo’s cloud DVR service

Aereo is a company that lets you record live broadcasts of television shows in some markets and stream them over the internet for $8 per month whether you have a TV, cable box, antenna or not. And now Aereo is probably going to have to shut down that business, although it’s not yet clear if the company will be able to pivot and launch something new.

The Supreme Court has basically ruled that Aereo’s business model is illegal.

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Aereo had argued in court that they weren’t infringing on the copyright of traditional broadcasters, because they were essentially doing what anybody could do on their own at home.

In fact, Aereo jumped through some pretty crazy hoops in an effort to comply with copyright law: Instead of just recording everything that aired in, say, New York City at once and then letting users stream the videos on demand, Aereo dedicated a tiny antenna to each user, as well as cloud storage space so that every single subscriber could choose which programs to record and then record and stream their own copies.

This is a lot like connecting a TiVo to an antenna in your house to record free, over-the-air broadcasts.

But the Supreme Court ruled in favor or broadcasters who argued that Aereo was offering “public performances,” which steps on their rights to distribute TV shows, movies, and other content.

That means if Aereo wants to stay in business, the company will either have to convince broadcasters to license their content (which they might not want to do… and even if they do, it’ll probably mean Aereo subscription prices will go up), or find another way to obtain and distribute content legally.

You can read the full Supreme Court ruling online.

Update: Aereo has issued a statement. Clearly the company is disappointed in the ruling… but promises to “continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on the world.”

via The Verge and Scotus Blog

  • jb82

    These tv broadcasters seem to have unlimited powers.
    EG Its funny how in Europe everyone can watch the world cup for free (including internet streaming) whereas here in the USA to stream it online you have to have a cable subscription (even though the games themselves are broadcast on free tv!)
    This is a ridiculous ruling that says you can’t stream tv on the internet for free that everyone can get free anyway on a regular tv antennae. My tv reception is terrible at my house but I don’t want cable. I hope someone will figure a way round this.

    • jb82

      okay just to be clear not “free” tv as nothing is free but eg England if you have a tv license for your regular tv then you can also stream programs online for NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE

  • mohsen jaza

    ve understand it is not your point … but in case you want to watch WC games free w/o cable you can watch all the games live via Deports, Univision App, in Spanish, along with schedule, formatioin, highlights

  • ldrn

    Dark news, indeed. Never had aereo before, but is this the death knell for storing things on Dropbox and drive as well?

  • Ed

    Very disappointing. I used to have Aereo, but moved to Nimble TV for more channels (Aereo had much better service and no downtime, unlike Nimble TV by the way). Aereo is a great service with what it does.

    The broadcasters are the enemy of Aereo, satellite, and cable. They already make their money with ads, but hey “I want to charge you, the cable/satellite/streaming providers, to show my channels even though I can’t survive unless you show my channels.” And this is allowed because of court decisions made over 30 years ago. From what I understand, CBS stands to make 2 billion dollars next year (source: Bloomberg West TV show) on retransmission charges alone. Freakin greedy capitalistic pigs, lobbyists and rich out-of-touch politicians (democrats and republicans alike).

  • Joe

    Kind of reminds me of that one app that helps people sell your parking spot to other people: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/06/san-francisco-orders-parking-spot-auction-app-to-cease-and-desist/

    At least there are some similarities.