Innovation Asset Blog

Online TV innovator wins key copyright victory

Since its commercial debut in early 2012, New York City startup Aereo has been drawing the ire of big name broadcasters by enabling subscribers to watch and record live television programming via internet-enabled devices. The young company scored an important legal victory this week as the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the assertion that Aereo's services infringe upon broadcaster copyrights.

According to The Verge, Aereo customers effectively rent proprietary antennas for a monthly fee which provides high-definition video streaming and recording capabilities. For $12 per month, viewers can access live content from more than 20 broadcast networks including CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX. Several of those companies signed on to the latest suit which alleged that Aereo did not have the proper licensure to deliver content.

"It is beyond dispute that the transmission of a broadcast TV program received by an individual's rooftop antenna to the TV in his living room is private, because only that individual can receive the transmission from that antenna, ensuring that the potential audience of that transmission is only one person," Justice Christopher Droney wrote in the majority opinion. "Plaintiffs have presented no reason why the result should be any different when that rooftop antenna is rented from Aereo and its signals transmitted over the internet: It remains the case that only one person can receive that antenna's transmissions."

Following the decision, Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia sat down for an interview with TechCrunch in which he highlighted the importance of the industry disruption his firm represents. With the legitimacy gained from its latest legal victory, Aereo could soon see former foes in the traditional broadcast space expressing interest in mutually beneficial partnerships to stay ahead of consumer technology trends.

Peter Ackerman

Peter Ackerman

Founder & CEO, Innovation Asset Group, Inc.