July 29, 2014
On June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo. This case involves the question of whether, under sections 101 and 106 of the Copyright Act, a company “publicly performs” a copyrighted television program--a privilege normally reserved to the copyright holder--when it retransmits a broadcast of that program to thousands of paid subscribers over the Internet.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Breyer, the Court held by a vote of 6-3 that Aereo is not simply an “equipment supplier” and that it performs petitioners’ works publicly within the meaning of the Transmit Clause. Chief Justice Roberts as well as Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Scalia authored a dissenting opinion which Justices Thomas and Alito joined. The decision of the Second Circuit was reversed.
To discuss the case, we have Mark Schultz, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the Southern Illinois University School of Law.