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Supreme Court to hear streaming television copyright case

The US Supreme Court [official website] on Friday granted review [order, PDF] for ABC, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc. [docket materials], to decide the legality of Aereo's [corporate website] online service that streams and records publicly broadcast television programming without paying the broadcasters. Aereo charges users a monthly fee to view broadcast TV channels on the users' computers or mobile devices. The plaintiffs, including the networks ABC, 20th Century Fox, CBS, and NBCUniversal [corporate websites], filed the petition [text, PDF] for certiorari after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] denied their requested injunction [opinion] to shut down Aereo until the case is heard. The broadcasters claim that Aereo's service violates their copyrights on the broadcast materials and will affect their ability to generate subscription and advertising revenue. Justice Samuel Alito did not participate in the decision to grant certiorari.

This is one of several recent high profile copyright cases. In November, a federal judge for the Southern District of New York [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] a class action copyright lawsuit against Google for their scanning and uploading of copyrighted materials for their Library Project. The court found that Google's use of the materials was "transformative" and protected under Section 107 [text, pdf], the "fair use clause", of the US Copyright Act. In April, another copyright suit filed in the Southern District of New York by Viacom against YouTube was dismissed [JURIST report] by a federal judge who decided that YouTube's hosting of video clips of Viacom programming was protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [text; pdf].

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