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Aereo Supreme Court Case Could Change the Way You Watch TV

Lawyers for Aereo—an internet-based television subscription company—argued for the company today in front of the Supreme Court for the United States in a case that will determine if they can stay in business and, potentially, how people in the internet age watch television. The ruling will not likely come until this summer.

Aereo is a company that offers a small antenna-like device that—along with an $8 per month subscription—allows users to watcher the network television broadcast in their area live on their laptop. Essentially, the Aereo device is very much like the old “rabbit ears” antennas people used in the days before cable was nigh ubiquitous. Also, Aereo offers their users a DVR service, in which programs are recorded on their servers and streamed to users on-demand.

This, of course, is a major problem for the networks, who usually get restransmission fees from companies or affiliates who take advantage of their programming that is—literally—simply floating around in the air. If Aereo is found to be acting legally, the revenue these networks receive from cable and satellite companies most likely will stop. Also, because of the DVR issue, this case could impact companies who store video and music on “the cloud.”

If the Court rules in favor of the networks, it will give these large, established media companies the upper-hand as the curators of content in a rapidly modernizing age. Essentially, it could limit or even prevent this content from being distributed on new and yet-to-emerge technologies.

However, if the Court rules in favor of Aereo, that’s good news for media start-ups, but may result in an ultimate loss of revenue for the creative minds behind the content and limit studios’ ability to produce high-quality (read: scripted) television. Still, these cloud-based digital services are content-creators best way to fight internet piracy.

 
Photo By UpstateNYer (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.