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Aereo Supreme Court Ruling: Fox, Disney and Others React

Opinions are divided on the online television service’s legal defeat

The Supreme Court brought the Aereo experiment to an end on Wednesday, ruling that the online TV service violates television broadcasters’ copyrights.

Reactions to the decision, both positive and negative, came fast and furious on Wednesday morning. Read below to see where the multitude of broadcasters, advocacy groups and others landed on the subject.

The Walt Disney Company:
“We’re gratified the Court upheld important Copyright principles that help ensure that the high-quality creative content consumers expect and demand is protected and incentivized.”

The broadcasters involved in the legal case against Aereo:
“Today’s decision is a victory for consumers. The Court has sent a clear message that it will uphold the letter and spirit of the law just as Congress intended.”

Also read: Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia: ‘Our Work Is Not Done’

21st Century Fox:
“21st Century Fox welcomes the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, a decision that ultimately is a win for consumers that affirms important copyright protections and ensures that real innovation in over-the-top video will continue to support what is already a vibrant and growing television landscape.”

“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.”

Also read: Broadcasters’ Stocks Rise on Aereo Victory

“We are gratified that the Court’s decision adopted a sensible middle ground, holding that unlicensed retransmission services like Aereo violate the copyright law, while protecting consumer-friendly, cloud-based technologies, such as RS-DVR. The real winner today is the consumer who will continue to benefit from future innovation.”

National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith:
“NAB is pleased the Supreme Court has upheld the concept of copyright protection that is enshrined in the Constitution by standing with free and local television. Aereo characterized our lawsuit as an attack on innovation; that claim is demonstrably false. Broadcasters embrace innovation every day, as evidenced by our leadership in HDTV, social media, mobile apps, user-generated content, along with network TV-backed ventures like Hulu.

“Television broadcasters will always welcome partnerships with companies who respect copyright law. Today’s decision sends an unmistakable message that businesses built on the theft of copyrighted material will not be tolerated.”

Also read: Aereo’s Supreme Court Loss Leaves It in Salvage Mode (Analysis)

Alki David, CEO of FilmOn:
“This huge blow to net neutrality and consumer rights proves my mistrust of the courts is well founded and that the policies and agencies that are supposed to protect the public interest have failed. They are indeed mere tools of a handful of corporations intent on keeping the people in a stranglehold of bad cable service at extortionist fees. The effects on values the U.S. supposedly takes pride in — from innovation to free markets to freedom of speech itself — are truly scary.

“But the ruling against the use of remote antennas to serve consumers the free channels they have a right to will not effect FilmOn’s overall business. We’ve been acquiring content at a tremendous rate and now have over 600 channels of free streaming TV and 45,000 videos on demand at FilmOn.com. Our 20 million American users a month already know about the convenience and quality of our service. Now even more will learn what we have to offer.

“Aereo, in their own words, is dead. More roadkill on the long road we’ve been on. My condolences to Barry Diller and Chet Kinojia — you fought a good fight. Call me if you need work.”

Parents Television Council:
“We are greatly disappointed with today’s Aereo ruling and we believe that the majority’s opinion failed to reflect the reality of today’s media landscape. This is a ruling for the status quo that hurts consumers. Aereo had the potential to break up the bundled-channel cable TV model that is forcing Americans to pay higher cable bills year after year for channels they don’t want or don’t watch,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

“Broadcasters deliver their product to almost every home in the nation for free via a license to use the publicly-owned airwaves — a resource that has been valued at half a trillion dollars — and they also generate revenue from cable companies that pay the broadcasters to carry their networks as part of a programming bundle. Cable companies then pass those costs directly to consumers. And today’s ruling will force consumers to pay for using a portion of the airwaves they already own.

“Still, today’s decision doesn’t change the fact that the cable TV model is crumbling, as more consumers are choosing to cut the cord and find alternatives to get the content they want at a lower cost.  We believe that true consumer cable choice will become a reality because it is the best free market solution for consumers.”

The American Television Alliance:
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling means that retransmission consent reform is needed now more than ever.  The decision is a reminder that broadcasters are interested in only one thing – protecting their government-sanctioned monopolies.  The broadcasters’ business model, which places blackouts ahead of consumers, is devoid of competition or incentive to innovate.  We encourage Congress to take advantage of the opportunity that the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) provides to update our video rules to the 21st Century, starting with retransmission consent.”

Dr. Mark Cooper, director of research for the Consumer Federation of America:  “This decision is bad for video consumers, who have lost an important low cost option for viewing the programming they want whenever, wherever and on the device they prefer.  However, its full impact may be to unleash a flood of law suits that challenge much content distribution through the Internet cloud.

“When a decision says we don’t know how we would rule in other cases, it is an open invitation to litigation.  For copyright holders who have little else to cling to, it is red meat.  Scalia’s dissent shows the crack through which the flood of lawsuits will flow.  Breyer, writing for the majority, tries to reassure us using the transmit clause to plug the leak, but Scalia notes that the Court should never have created the crack in the first place.  The failure to recognize the passive nature of Aereo’ service will invite all manner of mischief with copyright holders suing anyone who simply passes signals to consumers of any type of content.  In short, a cloud of lawsuits now hangs over cloud computing. This is the first step in the digital age equivalent of the Sony Betmax decision and, unfortunately for consumers and the Internet economy, the Court got it wrong.”

Independent Film & Television Alliance president and CEO Jean Prewitt:
“The Supreme Court’s decision that Aereo’s system infringes the exclusive rights of copyright owners is a victory for producers and their authorized distributors. Independent producers are already challenged in finding licensing opportunities for their television programming in the United States and unauthorized systems like Aereo, which do not pay licensing fees directly to producers nor indirectly through statutory compensation for retransmission of their programming, stifle innovation and creation by cutting off sources of legitimate financing and investment for independent production.”

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