Controversial TV streaming startup Aereo is in court this week after being sued by broadcasters including Comcast, Fox, CBS, and others. The plaintiffs claim that Aereo, which "captures" broadcast TV transmissions and transmits them to subscribers with proprietary antennas, doesn't have the right to redistribute their content. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Aereo's lawyers are arguing the startup is operating within the boundaries of the same laws that permit viewing recorded content via DVRs.
"The Aereo system operates just like DVRs in the marketplace. That's not the live retransmission of TV."
Since each Aereo subscriber uses an individual antenna, the argument goes that retransmissions don't constitute public performances and as such don't violate copyright law, even without Aereo paying any fees to the networks. The startup is backed by former Fox and Paramount boss Barry Diller, who says that he's spent "a lot of time and a good amount of money" establishing the venture's legality.