The U.S Supreme court on 25th June 2014 passed a judgment that reversed the second circuit decision in a 6-3 ruling in the Copyright infringement case of ABC vs. AEREO.
The Company AEREO, that was founded in 2012 by Chaitanya ‘Chet’ Kanojia, produced a small antenna based device that allowed users to watch live and time-shifted stream of over the air television on internet connected devices such as laptops, iPads, and Android phones .etc.
This case was first heard by the U.S Federal Court wherein the petitioners ‘American Broadcasting., Inc (ABC)’ stated that AEREO was guilty of infringing their copyright and for publicly performing their works without authorization. The Federal court however opined that AEREO did not infringe the petitioners’ copyright and denied their claim for a preliminary injunction.
As the case was brought to the Supreme Court, it was argued by AEREO that the transmission provided by it was private and not public in nature and was completely new as only one subscriber could access and see the shows of his choice which he could select from the menu list that AEREO would provide. The Supreme Court however held that AEREO had infringed the copyright in the Broadcasters’ content and that AEREO was operating illegally since it hadn’t paid the so called ‘retransmission fees’ to the Broadcasters, which is a must for cable and satellite companies. As a result the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Broadcasters and returned the case back to the lower court for re-hearing.
In a public notice put up by Chet Kanojia on the AEREO website it informed its subscribers that AEREO would be going on a momentary pause from its activities but not on a shut-down, to merely contemplate on its further course of action.