The US supreme court has ruled against Aereo. It judges Aereo on the service it provides rather than the technology it uses. Formulated like this there seems little wrong with it. But there are some serious implications. First of all: there were dissenting views from some of the judges, stating that the law had been interpreted by it’s intention and not by its letter (which is probably true, but that is not the way the law is intended to work in Anglo Saxon tradition). The second question that may be raised is that by implication any service in the cloud may thus be interpreted as having to obey copy right rules. So if John stores a music file in an online cloud server, the company owning the cloud server might be judged to serve him a piece of music when John wants to retrieve the file. I.e. it suggests that the private separation of cloud based services is less important than the aggregation of services offered. It may be interesting to understand how this verdict compares to the positive verdict in the Cablevision network PVR case.
For Aereo this is all a moot point. From day one it was clear the technology was created to exploit a “loophole in the law”, though other may call it a creative casting of rights of an individual in a combined/leased piece of hardware and software. It is over and out; there is no way back.
And one week later the service actually stops. This is a strange precedent that has happened; on one hand understandable but the freedom to create private clould-based services seems now severely impeded.
Videonet has published a detailed review of the court’s ruling and takes a more copyright centric view.
And since the mood in court seems to be favorable for content distributors Fox has decided to reopen a case against Dish for providing slingbox services (“Dish anywhere”). The key argument is that Dish violates copyrights on the same grounds that Aereo violates broadcaster copyrights. Indeed Dish offers the same service as Aereo, it just uses a different technical setup. The supreme court felt the specifics of the Aereo technical setup were not so relevant, so it seems Fox has a very good point. Note that this Variety article is clearer on the legal issue.