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Broadcasters to Supremes: Aereo is Stealing On Massive Scale

Tell Court Decision for Aereo Would Create Race among MVPDs to Resell Content without Payment 2/24/2014 4:40 PM Eastern

The broadcast networks and PBS have told the Supreme Court that Aereo is engaging in theft on a massive scale and must be stopped.

The broadcasters say that a ruling against Aereo would not threaten services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon, which pay for their copyrighted content, nor would it threaten cloud storage, since that is storage and access to content that has also already been paid for.

That came in a petitioners brief to the court filed Monday (Feb. 24). They also say Aereo's defense that is simply a remote equipment provider has already been rejected by the Congress.

The broadcasters have sued Aereo, saying it is illegally distributing content without having paid for it.

The Supreme Court is hearing their appeal of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision not to enjoin Aereo. That court, citing its own decision in the Cablevision case upholding remote DVR access to content, said Aereo was likely to win on the merits. The broadcasters want the High Court to reverse that injunction.

Other, lower courts, have upheld injunctions, setting up the court split the Supremes will be looking to resolve. No lower court has yet weighed in on the underlying merits of the case, but they are holding off until the Supreme Court weighs in, and when it does that will be the controlling decision to the degree that it reaches those merits.

In their brief, which was due Monday, they said that while a decision against Aereo would not pose a problem, a victory for Aereo would be "deeply problematic."

They argue Aereo would be "stealing" copyright holders' public performance right. Aereo says it is not a performance, but simply remote access--via the Internet, for a fee--to antennas receiveing free signals subs are entitled to without payment, and to recording capability that is also a viewers right thanks to the Betamax decision upholding fair use home recording, or in this case home away from home recording via remote DVRs.

Read the full story at Broadcasting & Cable.