Aereo’s Kanojia on SCOTUS case: “Win or disappear”


AereoThe subscription-based live broadcast TV streaming service either wins its copyright battle with broadcasters in the Supreme Court or it disappears from the video landscape, CEO Chet Kanojia said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

“There is no plan,” Kanojia said when asked about an alternate plan during the interview. “If we don’t succeed, despite our best efforts and the good law being on our side, it would be a tragedy. But it is what it is,” a FierceCable story quoted him as saying.

The deck seems stacked against Aereo, which, if it wins, could alter the entire broadcasting model of charging for retransmission of broadcast signals. Earlier this month DOJ threw its support behind the networks and broadcasters, which argue Aereo is illegally retransmitting local broadcaster signals and engaging in copyright infringement. U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who previously filed a friend of the court brief siding with broadcasters, is now asking to be allowed to argue his view endorsing TV networks stance during oral arguments in the case 4/22.

In the brief, the solicitor general said Aereo is violating copyright law and has to obtain retransmission consent: “The Copyright Act’s broad, technology-neutral definitions make clear that respondent’s system of individualize digital transmissions constitutes a ‘device or process” for communicating the performances embodied in television broadcast to the public.”

It 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.”

See the FierceCable story here, which includes the Bloomberg TV interview.