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Supreme Court justices walk tight rope in Aereo tiny antenna case

The Supreme Court heard testimony from attorneys from a new startup called Aereo and television network broadcasting attorneys on April 23 in a Copyright Act case.
Wikimedia Commons/jimjam28

If the conversation taking place at the Supreme Court today between the justices and the attorneys for television network broadcasters and a new upstart company called Aereo are any indication, then the issue of copyright law in this case is far from decided. The April 23 take on the issue by the Washington Post is that the justices seem to be leaning in the direction of supporting the broadcasters but fear that might result in too much restriction being placed on the burgeoning tech landscape of the Internet, if they do.

Justice Ginsberg pointed out that Aereo seems to be the only player in the retransmission of waves business right now that is able to avoid paying royalty fees. And she knows that is because the company has found a unique way to workaround that requirement.

But Justice Roberts and Justice Breyer pointed out that these tiny antennas Aereo gives to their customers in order to gain access to television show signals appears to merely be a tool to use in order to circumvent having to pay royalty fees to broadcasters when they should have to pay them based upon the Copyright Act.

CNN reported later in the day that Justice Roberts, known for his brash candor at times, put it like this:

There's no technological reason for you to have ten thousand dime-sized antennas, other than to get around the copyright law."

A ruling is expected in the technological-based case by early summer. But look for the justices to seek some type of way to uphold the Copyright Act while also not infringing on the cloud computing industry and its efforts to advance technology. That will only happen if the High Court finds a way to make both sides come out like winners.

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