Does Aereo Decision Have Cloud Computing Implications?

By Gary Kim June 25, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Aereo violates copyright law. Some say the ruling effectively kills Aereo and similar business models. Others might argue that what the ruling effectively kills is any business model that does not involve paying licensing fees to local broadcasters for the right to retransmit local broadcast signals, as routinely is done by cable TV, satellite TV and telco TV providers.

In essence, any future “retransmission” service similar to Aereo, but paying licensing fees to local broadcasters, would resemble the earliest cable TV systems, which simply retransmitted distant market TV signals to rural areas that could not receive the signals over the air.

The business problem, for any future Aereo-style off-air signal retransmission service, is that such features already are provided by linear video distributors. So there is no unmet market need.

Some might argue the bigger potential impact could be upon cloud-based storage services. he “The Aereo case could turn on how the justices interpret the definition of a public performance – whether Internet users transmitting content to themselves constitutes a public performance, which means they could face fees whenever that content is accessed,” says the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

“In other words, if the Supreme Court holds that Aereo is infringing for the reasons broadcasters say, then cloud computing--the innovation of remotely providing Internet users access to content they’re entitled to have--may be in jeopardy,” says CCIA.

Example, say a user uploads his or her own music content to a cloud drive. Does each instance of that consumer listening to his or her own music constitute a “public performance,” for purposes of applying licensing laws?

Or are instances of cloud-accessed content, by a single user with ownership of the content, a “private performance” not covered by licensing laws?

How about cloud digital video recorder functions? Broadcasters say those are far-fetched possibilities. What broadcasters do not say is that such possibilities do not exist.

It might someday turn out that the Aereo decision has more implications for cloud computing services than for consumption of local broadcast TV.




Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Editor

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