Supreme Court Invalidates Aereo’s Streaming Service, Finding Existing Copyright Law Applies to the New Technology of Internet Retransmission of Television Signals

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The recent rapid development of the Internet and other new modes of communication has raised significant questions about whether existing copyright laws adequately protect the rights of content creators.

On June 25, 2014, the United States Supreme Court answered those questions in the affirmative, at least in the area of Internet retransmission of broadcast television signals in the matter American Broadcasting Cos., Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., 573 U.S. ____ (2014). In a 6-to-3 opinion authored by Justice Stephen Breyer, the Court reversed the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and decided that Respondent Aereo, Inc.’s transmission of over-the-air broadcasts to its network of subscribers constituted a public performance of copyrighted works owned by Petitioners (a group of television producers, marketers, distributors and broadcasters), within the meaning of the Copyright Act’s “Transmit Clause” (17 U.S.C. § 101), thereby infringing Petitioners’ exclusive right to perform their copyrighted works publicly.

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