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Meet the streaming TV company that the networks are trying to crush

Aereo uses thousands of tiny antennas to scoop up free television signals and stream them to paying subscribers


Sarah Gray
March 26, 2014 9:30PM (UTC)

The CEO of Aereo, an Internet streaming service that uses thousands of tiny antennae to pick up local broadcast stations, spoke yesterday to Bloomberg about its upcoming Supreme Court battle (April 22, 2014). When asked if the company has a fallback plan, should Aereo lose, CEO Chet Kanojia said it was all or nothing. “There’s no Plan B. We do believe it’s the right thing," Kanojia said. "Progress is important. The mission of this company was to try to create a new platform, try to wedge the system open a bit.”

The company is being sued by a group of broadcast networks for violating the Copyright Act, and on March 4 the Obama administration submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the broadcasters. A joint filing by the Justice Department and U.S. Copyright Offices said Aereo was "clearly infringing" on the copyright laws.

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Aereo says that its cloud-based media service is perfectly legal: The tiny antennae are akin to a person setting up an antenna outside of his or her house to get local news. Thus far most lower courts have sided with the Internet start-up, and now the case is headed to the Supreme Court.

And while a negative ruling would destroy the company backed by billionaire Barry Diller, its implications may be further reaching. Aereo and its allies are arguing, according to CNN Money, that this ruling could impact the newly emerging cloud-based media industry.

Aereo's CEO said he was impressed by how seamlessly the company came together to achieve its goals, saying, "This is exactly what we set out to do.” Kanojia said that he expected legal controversy, but was surprised by how the implications of this ruling could affect the future of cloud-based industries.

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As technology expands, more people are choosing to watch TV via Internet streaming. All players in the computing, Internet, cable and entertainment spheres are attempting to evolve. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are the leaders in paid streaming subscriptions. And other attempts -- some legal, some not -- are being made. PopcornTime, a platform that uses torrents to illegally download copyrighted movies, recently appeared on the scene. Apple and Comcast also are currently working out a deal to change the future of television.

h/t The Hill, CNN Money


Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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Aereo Broadcast Networks Cloud Computing Copyright Innovation Supreme Court

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