The United States Department of Justice claims that streaming TV service Aereo is violating copyright law. To no one’s surprise, Aereo disagrees. In five days, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments from both sides. The DOJ has already made its case in a filing; today, Aereo is fighting back with its own lobbying effort: a website called “Protect My Antenna” that makes arguments for Aereo’s position and compiles legal documents for the public to read.
“We remain steadfast in our conviction that Aereo’s cloud-based antenna and DVR technology falls squarely within the law,” CEO Chet Kanojia wrote in an email to users announcing the site.
“Broadcasters should not be able to use the Courts to drive forward what they believe are their most lucrative business models,” the site says.
Aereo is set up to assign an individual, tiny antenna for each subscriber, and it makes an individual copy of the content for each user. That method is intended to circumvent copyright restrictions: anyone is allowed to watch broadcast TV free with an antenna, and Aereo argues it is simply setting up each user’s antenna on his or her behalf. On the other hand, broadcast networks argue that Aereo’s business is indistinguishable from cable or satellite service, except that cable and satellite providers pay for the right to distribute that programming. Without paying, Aereo is guilty of copyright infringement, networks say.