U.S. Solicitor General Supports Networks in Aereo Fight

“Like its competitors, (Aereo) must obtain licenses to perform the copyrighted content on which its business relies”

Last Updated: August 4, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

In Aereo’s Supreme Court fight to transmit TV stations over the web, the U.S. Solicitor General is taking the side of TV networks.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed Monday, Donald B. Verrilli Jr. argued that Aereo is violating copyright law by setting up tiny antennas and putting the signal online. Unlike home antennas, which bring the signal to an individual, Aero operates an “integrated system” to rebroadcast to the public.

“Like its competitors, respondent therefore must obtain licenses to perform the copyrighted content on which its business relies.”

The brief was filed as the high court readies to hear the Aereo case April 22.

Also read: Aereo ‘Extremely Disappointed’ as Court Blocks Expansion in 6 States

Aereo has claimed that because it uses antenna farms with thousands of individual receivers, it is not retransmitting TV signals and doesn’t have to pay retransmission fees. TV networks including ABC, NBCU, CBS, and PBS have claimed that Aereo is engaged in copyright violation.

In the brief, the solicitor general suggested Aereo’s argument that it isn’t engaged in retransmission is not a “natural reading” of  telecommunication laws because it isn’t using a single antenna “would afford talismanic significance to precisely the sort of technological minutiae that Congress intended to treat as irrelevant in crafting” telecommunications laws.

“Respondent identifies no reason why Congress would have wanted to countenance such a loophole.”


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