Barry Diller: Supreme Court’s Aereo Decision Could Have ‘Profound Effects’

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Aereo investor and media mogul Barry Diller said Sunday that a Supreme Court decision to shut down the Internet streaming service would have “profound effects on the development of technology.”

A Supreme Court ruling against Aereo could shut down an incipient technology before it has the chance to fully develop, Diller said in a Sunday interview with CNN, comparing the service to earlier revolutionary advancements.

“It’s almost like saying, ‘what if there was no telephone?,” said Diller. “If [the Supreme Court justices] stop it—which they very well may—I don’t think it’s the end of any world because we’ll not really know, but I think … if it stops, it will have profound effects on the developments of technology.”

Diller’s comments were his first since the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case pitting the upstart Aereo against major broadcasters, including CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox. The U.S. Department of Justice has also filed a brief in support of the broadcasters, who argue Aereo is infringing on their copyright by streaming free, over-the-air television and sending it to subscribers over the Internet.

Aereo, which does not pay retransmission fees to broadcasters, maintains that it doesn’t run afoul of copyright law, as it provides each subscriber with access to an individual tiny antenna which captures broadcasters’ streams. That, Aereo says, means it’s providing “private performances,” not “public performances,” the latter of which are subject to copyright law.

Two federal courts sided with Aereo in decisions made last year, but broadcasters won a third court battle. The Supreme Court’s decision regarding Aereo’s legality will have direct implications for the company, but also set an important precedent for television and Internet technology moving forward.


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