US Court Rules TV Streaming Service Does Not Violate Copyright Law

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By Kelly Burke for Intellectual Property Watch

The Second United States Circuit Court of Appeals today determined that online live television broadcasting service Aereo doesn’t violate US copyright law, upholding a lower court ruling. Aereo is a cloud computing-based service in New York City.

In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court relied, in part, on a 2008 Second US Circuit decision in which judges found that Cablevision System Corp.’s digital video recorder did not violate copyright law by copying and storing programs for each customer’s use.

Aereo’s technology allows subscribers to view live broadcast content and record it for later viewing. It is able to provide this service by leasing individual remote antennas to each user. This distinguishes Aereo from purely internet-based streaming services.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed an amicus brief [pdf] in the Aereo case, asking that the lower court ruling be upheld. In the brief, CCIA largely cited the previous Cablevision decision as the reason for the court to uphold the ruling.

“This case was not just about broadcast television; it was a test of the legitimacy of the cloud computing industry,” CCIA President & CEO Ed Black said. “Today, the Second Circuit agreed with us that users should be able to access their own, lawfully-acquired content in the cloud without the fear of being branded pirates.”

Digital rights advocacy group Public Knowledge also applauded the court’s decision here.

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