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Aereo TV Receives Little Support from Supreme Court Justices in Copyright Case

On Tuesday, it seemed as though justices for the United States Supreme Court were skeptical about the online television company called Aereo Inc and its position in a copyright dispute with major television broadcasters. There were a couple of justices who mentioned concerns with ruling against the startup and how it could affect cloud computing services in the future, according to Reuters.

If Aereo is to win the case, it could spur a new way for the industry in providing consumers the ability to watch television. The case could also threaten the $3 billion in retransmission fees broadcasters are paid from satellite and cable television systems.

CBS Corp has threatened to turn off its free-to-air broadcast signals if Aereo wins the case. It also said it might create a low-cost online feed of its channel if Aereo wins. If Aereo is defeated in the case, it might be forced to stop operating.

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Consumers who use Aereo are charged a low monthly fee to stream live broadcasts of television channels on mobile devices. Aereo is currently available for consumers in just 11 cities in the United States.

A request to shut down Aereo as litigation moved forward was denied by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April of 2013. This led CBS, NBC Universal, ABC and Twenty-First Century Fox to appeal the decision, which led the case to the Supreme Court.

Some justices expressed concern about shooting down Aereo because it might create worry among other cloud computing services such as Google, DropBox and others.

Justice Stephen Breyer said that the legal argument of Paul Clement, the attorney for the networks, “makes me nervous about taking your preferred route.”

Similar concerns were raised by justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito.

Chief Justice John Roberts wondered whether or not the technology used by Aereo is just to get around copyright law.

“I’m just saying your technological model is based solely on circumventing legal prohibitions that you don’t want to comply with,” Roberts said.

The court should make its decision by June.

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