A brief filed 2/24 by networks including ABC, PBS, CBS, NBC and Fox, asks the Supreme Court to shut Aereo down. The case SCOTUS will consider on 4/22 is the broadcasters’ appeal of a decision last year by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied the TV stations’ injunction request. Broadcasters said in the brief that the appellate court, in upholding Aereo’s legality, had “created a gaping hole in copyright law that threatens the very existence of broadcast television we know it.”
They also say Aereo’s defense that it is simply a remote equipment provider has already been rejected by Congress. That “theft,” say the broadcasters, “would launch a race by cable and satellite companies to develop competing methods to capture copyrighted content and re-sell it without paying for the right to do so.” That would give networks little choice but to reconsider the quality and quantity of programs they broadcast for free over the air, and possibly move their content to cable-only channels.
The briefs filed on Monday largely restated arguments the broadcasters have made before, noted the Wall Street Journal: “Broadcasters say Aereo is stealing their content and could set a precedent that would greatly harm their ability to collect carriage revenues from pay TV operators for their TV stations–a growing and highly profitable source of revenue. The case has far-reaching implications for the future of online video and the TV business.”
The networks also noted that even as a market for online video rights has developed through the likes of Netflix and Hulu, Aereo has made an effort to “circumvent that market and avoid paying for the same rights that others have paid for.”
RBR-TVBR observation: The more reality SCOTUS has at its fingertips in the form of these filings, the better. They may be repeating themselves in some of this latest filing, but keep it up, we say. As well, the recent decision from Judge Dale Kimball of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Utah in favor of broadcasters granting a preliminary injunction against Aereo is very telling for the High Court’s considerations.