Aereo Says It’s a Technological Step Not a Rube Goldberg Device

Streaming service files 100-page brief with the U.S. Supreme Court

In a legal brief, Aereo has asked the Supreme Court to reject broadcasters' arguments that its antenna-based Internet streaming service is "a sort of Rube Goldberg device" and just "a clever way to take advantage of existing laws."

The 100-page brief, filed just a few hours before the court's midnight deadline, will form the foundation for Aereo's defense of its system before the Supreme Court on April 22.

Responding to broadcasters' arguments that Aereo is trying to circumvent the copyright law, Aereo responded by positioning its service as the next "technological step" like color TV, Betamax and the DVR. Its recordings of broadcasters' free, over-the-air signals do not violate copyright law because they  "do not constitute public recordings," Aereo said in its brief.

Convinced it is on solid legal ground, Aereo did not oppose the broadcasters' petition that the Supreme Court take the case.

If the court rules against it, Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia fears it would "upend and cripple the entire cloud industry," he said in a statement.

Most of Aereo's legal argument, in the case of American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., et al. v. Aereo, rests on a Cablevision case that ruled consumers could access their own DVR-recorded content stored in Cablevision's cloud.

"Since the beginning of television, consumers have had a fundamental right to watch over-the-air broadcast television using an individual antenna, and they have had the right to record copies for their personal use since the U.S. Supreme Court Sony Betamax decision in 1984," Kanojia said.

Kanojia said he had "every confidence" the court would rule in Aereo's favor, but the cards may be stacked against the upstart service. A number of amicus briefs have been filed supporting the broadcasters' copyright claim not the least of which from the U.S. Department of Justice, which argued that a ruling in favor of Aereo would undermine the legal framework of the copyright law.


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