As announced yesterday, Aereo, a streaming broadcast TV company, was found to be violating copyrights on programming it was providing, given that the almost live broadcasts it made available represented a public performance of the content and hence was illegal under copyright law. In plain speak, Aereo’s entire business model was to take that which didn’t belong to it and sell it. Try selling access to your neighbor’s guest room on AirBnB, or taking your neighbor’s otherwise unused car to use for your own Uber sideline, and see how things work out.
But the innovative service apparently was appealing particularly to cord cutters, suggesting that if done legally it might be a legitimate marketplace success. In recognition of not impacting innovation the Supreme Court wisely narrowly tailored its ruling where technologies are concerned even while protecting intellectual property rights. Innovation and creators both saved!
As Madery Bridge guest writer Stevan Mitchell wrote earlier this year, “There is no question that an appropriate balance must be struck to preserve incentives for creators. The easier it becomes to replicate, transmit, record and re-experience a work the more this proposition holds true. Our overarching policy preferences may be best served, and the right balances most cleanly and predictably struck, however, by analogies that more closely resemble today’s bit stream communications and how they are used. The alternative is to continue to retrofit and stretch yesterday’s physical world analogies.”
Read more from Stevan on the challenges yet to come in Bridge Span 14-5: Living in an Aereo World.