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The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in ‘ABC v Aereo’ and here are some recaps of the arguments and a bit of early prognostication on where the justices may or may not. So far the story is centered around the courts apparent hesintancy that ruling against Aereo would undo other rulings and set new legal precedent that would stifle technological inovation.
First you can read the transcripts of arguments here in pdf form.
Deadline’s Dominic Patten has his recap here.
If you thought that the legal dispute between Aereo and the broadcasters was combative, it paled compared with today’s one-hour hearing at the Supreme Court. In oral arguments before the nine Justices, both sides took some heavy blows, but the Barry Diller-backed streaming service definitely took one to the jaw from Chief Justice John Roberts. “Your technological model is based solely on circumventing legal prohibitions that you don’t want to comply with,” Roberts told Aereo attorney David Frederick during the presentation before a packed chamber. “There’s no reason for you to have 10,000 dime-sized antennas except to get around the Copyright Act,” he said. Added Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: ”You are the only player so far that pays no royalties whatsoever.”
Coming after arguments from the broadcasters by former Solicitor General Paul Clement and current Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart, Frederick started off his presentation by saying “this is a reproduction rights issue masquerading as a public performance case.” The Justices didn’t seem to buy it.
Over on Variety Ted Johnson provides another report focusing on Justice’s comments of hesitancy about rulling and setting a precedent for cloud computing that is unintended.
Justice Stephen Breyer said if they were to side with broadcasters in their definition of a public performance, “then the problem is in the words that do tha t… are we somehow catching other things that really will change life and shouldn’t, such as the cloud?”
Alyssa Rossenberg for Washinton Post’s Act Four blog also filed a report focusing on the concerns of the nations top judges.
In a hearing at the Supreme Court this morning that pits a new technology company against legacy television broadcasters, the justices appeared torn. It was clear from their questions that they think Aereo, a service that lets its subscribers stream broadcasts recorded from the public airwaves, has used technological workarounds to avoid paying fees to content creators. But they also appear anxious about undermining the legal basis for technological innovations like cloud storage. How they decide to balance those two imperatives will determine a suddenly more-uncertain outcome of the important case. WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 22: Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia leaves the U.S. Supreme Court after oral arguments April 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case against Aereo on the companys profiting from rebroadcasting network TVs programs obtained from public airwaves.
“I’m not saying it’s outcome determinative, or necessarily bad, I’m just saying your technological model is based solely on circumventing prohibitions that you don’t want to comply with, which is fine,” Chief Justice John Roberts told David Frederick, who represented Aereo. “Lawyers do that.”
PHOTO Credit: Sebastien Thibault for Variety