Skip to main content

TV broadcasters have little luck in court against Aereo, ask Supreme Court to rule

TV broadcasters have little luck in court against Aereo, ask Supreme Court to rule


Experts say the high court likely won't get involved yet

Share this story


Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia.

The country's largest TV broadcasters have petitioned the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of Aereo, the web TV service that employs thousands of mini rabbit ears to help users access live, over-the-air broadcasters, according to CNET.

TV programmers have alleged in complaints that Aereo's technology is designed to circumvent copyright law so the company can distribute their shows without compensating creators. But the broadcasters have failed to convince courts in New York and Boston that Aereo is breaking the law. Aereo argues that consumers are entitled to access the airwaves with TV antennas. Instead of mounting an aerial on a roof or TV set, Aereo users control antennas stored at the company's headquarters with web-connected devices. In addition to providing live TV over the web, Aereo enables users to record shows.

So far, broadcasters have failed to convince courts that Aereo is breaking the law

Whether or not the high court will hear the case is left to be determined. The court rejects the vast majority of review requests. The news that the broadcasters would seek a Supreme Court ruling was first reported by Variety. What could hold up a review is that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has not issued a decision on FilmOn X, an Aereo competitor. The broadcasters have been much more successful against FilmOn, winning favorable rulings against that company at the district-court level in California and Washington DC.  In the California case, FilmOn appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

The Supreme Court is more likely to review a case if a conflict exists between the different circuits. So, until the Ninth Circuit rules, only one case has gone all the way to an appeals panel — that happened in the Second Circuit, which ruled in Aereo's favor.