Supreme Court’s Decision Against Aereo Is a Victory for Big Broadcasters

Aereo tried to skirt copyright laws by assigning every customer their own small antenna.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that startup television streaming service Aereo breaks copyright laws by using antennas, one per customer, to receive and record broadcasts in exchange for a membership fee. The court voted 6–3 that Aereo’s approach was illegal.

The decision is an important victory for television networks, whose business model would have been threatened if Aereo and similar services were allowed to grow. When the court heard the case in April, networks explained that a significant portion of their revenue comes from retransmission fees, and services like Aereo would significantly undermine this payment structure. The New York Times reports that broadcasters threatened to stop transmitting signals altogether if they could not charge other networks and local stations for their content.

Aereo’s defense was that for $8 to $12 per month, the company was simply facilitating reception of content through a method that customers could legally use on their own.

According to the Times, CBS spokesperson Dana McClintock said, “We are pleased with today’s decision, which is great news for content creators and their audiences.”