Aereo to Supreme Court: We have broken no law

In a brief, Aereo says that it has stayed within the realm of US copyright law and that TV broadcasters have no right to royalties from its television streaming.

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Aereo's dime-sized antennae. Aereo

The US Supreme Court got an earful from Aereo in a response brief filed Wednesday.

In the 100-page brief (PDF), Aereo, which streams over-the-air television programming with antenna/DVR technology, reiterated that it is not violating copyright law and that major broadcasters should not be paid for the programming that it is facilitating.

"Under the Copyright Act, petitioners have no right to royalties at all for retransmissions of their content within the original broadcast market," Aereo wrote in the brief to the Supreme Court. "This Court should not rewrite the Copyright Act in an effort to protect petitioners from lawful and logical advancements in technology or from the economic consequences of their transmitting works for free over the public airwaves."

Aereo is hashing it out with major US broadcasters, including ABC, CBS (the parent of CNET), Fox, and NBC Universal. The legal back-and-forth has been going on for more than a year and finally reached the country's highest court in January.

The broadcasters argue that Aereo's business model is built on pilfering the creative content of others without paying to distribute programming and therefore falls under copyright violation. Aereo maintains that its technology doesn't infringe on any copyrights since anyone is allowed to watch broadcast TV for free with an antenna.

"Today, we filed our response brief setting forth the basis for our steadfast conviction that Aereo's cloud-based antenna and DVR technology falls squarely within the law," Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia said in a statement emailed to CNET. "We have every confidence that the Court will validate and preserve a consumer's right to access local over-the-air television using an individual antenna, make a personal recording with a DVR, and watch that recording on a device of their choice."

While Aereo says its setup with one antenna per user is legal, the US Solicitor General's Office appears to have sided with the broadcasters. In a brief filed to the Supreme Court earlier this month, Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler said that Aereo is violating copyright law.

Despite these major forces against the startup, Aereo still appears willing to put up a fight.

"Since the beginning of television, consumers have had a fundamental right to watch over-the-air broadcast television using an individual antenna, and they have had the right to record copies for their personal use since the US Supreme Court Sony Betamax decision in 1984," Kanojia said on Wednesday. "These are rights that should be protected and preserved as they have been for generations."

Briefs in support of Aereo are scheduled to be filed on April 2. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on April 22.

 

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