by Mark F. Shultz
American Enterprise Institute
July 24, 2014
In American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., the Supreme Court just held that Aereo’s television service, which re-transmits over-the-air TV signals to subscribers via the Internet, does indeed transmit performances to the public within the meaning of the Copyright Act. Some have decried the decision as a threat to innovation. But was Aereo really innovative? It was an inefficient contraption that skirted the law using individual micro-antennas assigned to each subscriber. It’s hard to see any purpose for this design beyond exploiting perceived legal loopholes. Yet the Court focused on results, rather than technical design. In doing so, it returned to Congress’ intent under the Copyright Act to assure that copyright owners have the right to control the distribution of their work. The decision is a boon to innovation because secure copyright laws encourage investment in creative and technical industries alike.

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