Cord cutters lost a nifty new gizmo on June 25 when the Supreme Court ruled that it’s illegal for a company to stream broadcast TV online without paying ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox hefty copyright fees.
That means lights-out for Aereo, a TV-streaming service that launched in Brooklyn nearly two years ago that allowed its customers to pay a piddling fee–about $8 a month–to watch all kinds of locally broadcast shows, including professional football and baseball games, through an Internet connection. Consumer groups had cheered Aereo for giving people a way to ditch their ever increasing cable bills, but the court wasn’t convinced. It said that Aereo, which rented tiny antennas to each of its customers and then saved shows in the digital cloud, was behaving just like a traditional cable or satellite-TV company and had to pay copyright fees for the programming. “It’s over now,” cable pioneer Barry Diller, a key Aereo backer, told CNBC.
The ruling could raise new legal concerns for other cloud-computing services, like Dropbox and iCloud, which allow users to store files without checking for copyright violations.
–HALEY SWEETLAND EDWARDS
This appears in the July 07, 2014 issue of TIME.