Today’s Supreme Court debate may determine the fate of the
two-year-old, $97 million start-up that challenged copyright law by carrying
broadcast signals without securing rights for them. (Photo at right is the line outside of the Supreme Court
this morning, tweeted by Adrianne Jeffries of The Verge
Broadcasters have asked the high court to reverse lower court rulings denying
an injunction against Aereo. The larger question of copyright violation rests
on whether the service is found to be a public or a private performance. Public
performances are subject to copyright protection. Private performances are not.
Aereo claims its service provides a private performance to users who “rent” one
of many dime-sized antennas in large arrays. Broadcast engineers say such an
array would work as one large antenna, making Aereo’s service the same as any
other pay TV provider, and thus subject to copyright law.
The high court is expected to go beyond the simple matter of the injunction and
rule on the pubic-private performance issue, which effectively could end the
legal dispute. The question presented before the court is stated
company "publicly performs" a copyrighted television program when it
retransmits a broadcast of that program to thousands of paid subscribers over
provides a timeline of
Aereo’s roll-out and the legal maneuvers that followed.
Feb. 14: Aereo announces $20.5 million in funding from Barry Diller.
Diller, a former broadcast executive for USA Network and later, News Corp.
is chairman of IAC, a $5.7 billion e-commerce empire.
Feb 17: Aereo
files for patent on out-of-market TV streaming.
Univision, Tribune’s CW affiliate, WPIX, PBS and others file suit in U.S.
District Court in Manhattan to stop Aereo.
beta launches in New York.
After a 90-day free trial, Aereo charges $12 a month for 20 channels, 40
hours of remote storage and access on up to five devices, including the iPhone,
iPad, Toku, Apple TV and MacBook.
defends Aereo in the Senate.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) drills Diller.
11: Federal court denies
Judge Alison Nathan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of
New York rules that Aereo is materially similar to Cablevision’s remote digital
video recorders, deemed legal in 2008 in Cartoon
Network v. Cablevision,
decided in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second
offers new pricing plan.
From free, to $1 a day to $80 a year. The service is still available only
in New York.
10: Fox sues Aereo mimic
AereoKiller and BarryDriller in California court.
Coca-Cola billionaire Alki David resurrects streaming TV service FilmOn as
an homage to Diller, who is not amused. He continues streaming through other
URLs such as FilmOn and AereoKiller, and
apps. Fox sues for an injunction with the U.S. District Court for the Central
District of California.
has 2,000 subscribers.
Aereo insider tells Dan Rayburn of Streaming
the service has only 2,000 paying subs.
“I had hoped that if they steal my name they’d do it for something more provocative,”
Diller tells The
Wall Street Journal.
The cable operator at the heart of Aereo’s legal position sides with
broadcasters in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Second Circuit in Lower Manhattan.
17: Aereo adds Windows.
The Consumer Electronics Association files an amicus brief for Aereo with
the Second Circuit.
20: California judge grants injunction against AereoKiller and Barry
Judge George Wu is not bound by the Cablevision
decision and takes it to task. “Cablevision
focus on the uniqueness of the individual copy from which a transmission is
made is misplaced,” he wrote. Wu’s decision creates a “circuit split,” where
federal circuit courts issue disparate rulings.
Jan. 8: Aereo
secures another $38 million, announces plan to expand to 22 cities in 2013.
April 1: Appeals
court affirms lower court decision.
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirms Judge Nathan’s ruling. Judge
Denny Chin dissents, calling Aereo a “Rube Goldberg-like contrivance,
over-engineered in an attempt to avoid the reach of the Copyright Act…”
April 8: News Corp.’s Chase Carey said the 27 Fox O&Os may go off the
air if Aereo prevails.
“One option could
be converting the Fox broadcast network to a pay channel,” Carey said at the
NAB Show, stirring things up a wee bit.
May 23: Fox and NBC sue to
stop FilmOn and AereoKiller in D.C. District court.
seek injunction in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
May 30: Aereo launches in Boston.
July 9: Hearst
sues Aereo in Boston.
Hearst-owned ABC affiliate WCVB seeks an injunction from the U.S. District
Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Circuit denies en banc hearing.
A federal appeals court denied a request by broadcasters for all 13 judges
to consider their request for an injunction against Aereo.
July 10: Aereo launches in Atlanta.
Aug. 19: Aereo launches in Salt Lake
Sept. 13: Aereo launches in Chicago.
Oct. 7: Judge allows
scrutiny of Aereo technology.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman overrules Aereo’s objections over patent
deposition. RF engineers say the arrays of tiny antennas cannot work
individually, making Aereo the same as a cable operator and therefore subject to
Oct, 10: Boston
judges rule for Aereo.
Hearst fails to secure injunction.
Oct. 11: Broadcasters petition for a
review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Observer say a review is likely based on the circuit split.
Oct. 22: Aereo adds Android.
Oct. 28: Aereo launches in Detroit.
Nov. 4: Aereo launches in Denver. SCOTUS
accepts amicus briefs.
The National Football League, Major League Baseball, Viacom, Time Warner
and Warner Bros. file amicus briefs. More than 30 more will be filed.
Dec. 12: Aereo
says it won’t fight SCOTUS appeal.
Aereo chief Chet
Kanojila said his company won’t oppose broadcasters bid for a review by the
Jan. 8: Diller
sinks another $34 million into Aereo.
Jan 10: SCOTUS grants broadcasters’
Justice Samuel Alito recuses, creating the possibility of a tie among the
eight remaining justices.
runs out of capacity in New York.
Feb. 19: Utah
Broadcasters win injunction against Aereo.
Judge Dale Kimball
of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Utah ruled in favor of
broadcasters granting a preliminary injunction against Aereo, enjoining the
service in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and most of Oklahoma.
Feb. 19: Aereo launches in San Antonio, Texas.
March 3: Aereo
launches in Austin, Texas..
March 26: Aereo files brief outlining its arguments.
Aereo is resting on the 1986 Betamax
case, which made home recording legal, and on Cablevision, decided in 2008. Engadget
parses the brief.
March 12: Solicitor General files motion to participate in oral arguments
on behalf of broadcasters.
April 2: EchoStar
and Dish sides with Aereo.
The satellite TV provider throws in with Aereo on an amicus brief filed
with the SCOTUS.
8: Aereo continues planning its
expansion, come what may.
“What’s the point of having money?,” Aereo CEO and founder, Chet Kanojia told
“If you’re going to lose, you don’t need the money, if you win
you’d be a fool to have wasted the time.”
9: Four in 10 would cut the
cord for Aereo.
In a survey of the Centris Evolution of Video Community, numbering around
1,000 households, 40 percent said they’d “be likely to cancel their [pay] TV
service and replace it with Aereo.
April 17: Diller
gives Aereo a 50-50 chance in the Supreme Court.
The chairman says he’s “shocked” that the Obama Administration would side
with broadcasters. He said the service would be killed if they won, and that
the impact on IAC would be inconsequential, like a “pimple on the hide of an
Justice Alito is no longer recused, eliminating
the chance of a tie.
April 18: Supreme
Court allows feds to participate in oral arguments.
“Motion of the
Deputy Solicitor General for leave to participate in oral argument as amicus
curiae and for divided argument granted.”
April 21: Aereo’s
Kanojia says there's no "Plan B."
Aereo has no strategy for a SCOTUS loss.