This Tuesday, the US Supreme Court faced a case that might have an impact on television in the future. This was a tussle between different TV networks and an online start-up App which transmits their shows to the customers for a fee.
Aereo, a two year old service, charges $8-$12 per month to stream different programs from ABC, PBS, CBS, the CW, Fox and NBC to the computers, tablets and smartphones of its customers.
However, the other TV networks are challenging this app. They say that the service is violating copyright law and therefore amounts to theft.
In an oral statement, the respectable justices while expressing their concern said that dominating the networks might just allow the growth of cloud computing. Furthermore, the Associated Press asked for Justice Stephen Breyer’s remark, to which he questioned, “are we somehow catching other things that would really change life and shouldn’t?”
The future of Aereo stands on the ruling. On the other hand, for the broadcasters, who are already disturbed by declining viewership, any loss can undercut the legitimate foundation demanding cable networks and satellite companies to pay copyright fee for network shows.
Moreover, an antenna, which is just about the size of a dime, is given to each customer of Aereo and is maintained physically at the company’s facilities. This allows streaming of programs over the web to the customers who can either watch these shows live or store them for later.
However, the case stands on the uncertainty of the federal copyright law and the legal difference between private and public presentations of copyrighted work.
The company says that the law does not cover it. It argues that as the antennas are allotted individually, so it is actually transmitting thousands of individual performances and not a single public one.
The Chief Justice John Roberts inquired the company’s lawyer whether it still required antennas apart from avoiding paying the networks. In reply to which, the lawyer said that it was cheaper for the company to install such equipment as it develops, instead of using a large antenna.
This case is expected to be settled by the Supreme Court in late June this year.