Unless you've been ignoring most of the internet today, you know the Supreme Court handed down a decision on a big court case involving the video streaming startup Aereo.
Aereo rents users tiny antennas so that they can stream live television content from broadcasters to various devices. Aereo says it's just a modern version of your old TV rabbit ears. Broadcasters say that Aereo is more than that -- that it is acting like a cable company, showing content to people and charging them without having paid the proper liscensing fees to the companies that make said content.
In its decision on ABC Inc. vs. Aereo Inc., the Supreme Court effectively sided with broadcasters, saying that Aereo's streaming constitutes a public performance of copyrighted material. It also suggested that because of that, Aereo was acting like a cable company. Lots more of the nerdy details here.
So the big question is, what if I'm an Aereo user?
Well, for the record, I am. And for the record, I've been watching most of my favorite World Cup games thanks to Aereo streaming them from ABC and from Univision.
Here are some things worth thinking about:
- The case was remanded to lower courts, which may suggest some time will pass before the whole thing gets hashed out. Though its important to note that the majority opinion doesn't seem to leave Aereo much legal room to maneuver.
- Two of the company's figureheads have put out essentially opposing statements on the future of the company. Investor Barry Diller said "we did try, but it's over now." Meanwhile CEO Chet Kanojia said today in a statement, "We are disappointed in the outcome, but our work is not done. We will continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world." Nice and vague, right? But in the wake of the decision, people inside the company may be trying to figure out what to do next, which could again take a little while.
- Like lots of startups, Aereo seems to be good at communicating with users. Because it's a digital company that requires an email to sign up for its service, Aereo has a direct route for communicating to users what is in store. The company has put out statements over email to users in the past regarding the case headed to the Supreme Court, so chances are, you'll get some communication before the service shuts down.