Molecule Software Blog

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Aereo: Innovation or Copyright Infringement?

The internet is ablaze with chatter about the lawsuit regarding Aereo -- a startup Internet company that provides the ability to bring your favorite television programs right to your smartphone or tablet. And for as little as $8 a month. Staying late at work but don't want to miss the season finale of CSI? No problem. At your kids soccer game, but still want to tune in to The Bachelorette? Aereo has you covered. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, the tv broadcasters thought so too.

On June 25th, the Supreme Court ruled that Aereo must pay broadcasters when it takes their television shows from the airwaves and publishes it on their subscribers mobile devices. In a 6-3 vote, the justices said that Aereo Inc. is violating the broadcasters' copyrights by taking the signals for free. The ruling preserves the ability of the television networks to collect huge fees from cable and satellite systems that transmit their programming.

While the Supreme Court has spoken, some are left wondering if this is an attack on innovation and if this is compromising the future of cloud computing and businesses that are centered around the concept. Is blocking this type of technology for the greater good? Or is it purely all about the money? Congress is left wondering if the law needs an upgrade. Although the "big boy" broadcasters sued Aereo, the smaller cable companies, independent broadcasters and consumer groups backed Aereo, claiming that the court is in no position to try to impede innovation and predict the future of television.

In the meantime, Aereo has suspended service to its customers after less than 2 years in business and the future of the company is uncertain. In the statement they released following the trial they said "We are disappointed in the outcome, but our work is not done. We will continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world."

We think the best statement was made by Jonathan Bailey at Plagiarism Today: "Given that both content creators and technologists play a role in enriching your life and that both are required for the brave new world we are heading toward to reach its potential, we have to stop thinking about this as a war for or against innovation, but rather, a case study on how different types of innovation interplay."

What's your stance? Is Aereo purely innovative or did they need to pay up?