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TV broadcasting industry’s biggest court battle has started : Will Aereo hold its ground ?

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Aereo, a television broadcasting start-up, started by Indian-American Chaitanya (Chet) Kanojia, has been the talk of the town for almost a month now. The reason being, it has made the biggest names the broadcasting industry, shiver by its breathtaking technology.

What is this technology which has sent a chill down the spines of the biggest names in broadcasting ? ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox are leading the case, but almost the entire industry backs them. The reason ? Aereo’s thumb sized antenna, which lets users catch free-to-air signals via airways, and steam content, directly on their laptop, smartphone or virtually any other device.

What is this battle all about ? What could be its implications on either of the industries ? Let’s answer some of your questions.

This Supreme Court battle is against Aereo, a New-York based company that that allows subscribers to view live and time-shifted streams of over-the-air television on Internet-connected devices. The service was launched in February 2012, and is backed by Barry Diller’s IAC. 

The battle is led from the fore frunt by ABS, CBS, NBC and Fox group, but is backed by almost the entire broadcasting industry. The reason being, Aereo has developed a breath-taking technology, which allows users to stream TV on their laptops, smartphones or their TV sets, with the help of a small, postage stamp sized antenna.

Aereo's technology. Source :
Aereo’s technology. Source :

As per its CEO, Chet Kanojia, it reduces the burden of cost on the consumers to just $8 from the current $80 which broadcasters charge.

While this may seem to be relaxing for the consumers, it is not for the broadcasters. They say it is a clear violation of the copyright laws as Aereo’s antennas are taking content during their transmission, without paying any license fees to the broadcasters.

The big court battle started today, and towards the end, it has been mixed for Aereo. “Your technological model is based solely on circumventing legal prohibitions that you don’t want to comply with,” said Chief Justice John Roberts in a criticising tone.

In reply, Aereo’s lawyers, maintained that, “No content is being provided. Only the equipment is being provided”. 

“What disturbs me on the other side is I don’t understand what the decision for you or against you when I write it is going to do to all kinds of other technologies,” Justice Stephen Breyer said in a rather confused, frustrated tone.

This big court battle can have some serious ramifications on the way start-ups, cloud companies work. This could directly affect even the bigger names, like Google and Apple. Chief Justice John Roberts reiterated that, “(there is) no reason for Aereo to have 10,000 dime-sized antennas, other than to get around the copyright laws “. Justice Antonin Scalia seconded to what Justice roberts said, by saying “Is there any reason you did it other than not to violate the copyright laws? “

Editor-at-large and co-founder at The Tech Portal. He is a tech enthusiast with interests in new-age technology fields like Ai, Machine Learning, AR/VR, Outer Space and related stuff. Drop him a mail anytime, very reachable.

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