Broadcasters claim signal theft by digital streaming service

KWIKA partner Jonathan Steinsapir was quoted by Variety in Ted Johnson’s piece on an appeal to the Supreme Court by a group of broadcasters who say that Aereo, a digital streaming service, is stealing their signal.

Lower courts have so far declined to issue an injunction, siding with Aereo in its contention that its service is a “private” transmission (since the company issues a separate tiny antenna to each subscriber) and thus does not violate the Copyright Act’s “public performance” protection.  The broadcasters dismiss the claim as nonsense, and argue that this is exactly what Congress intended to clarify when it recently expanded the meaning of “public performance” under the Copyright Act to include retransmissions of over-the-air broadcasts to the public.

To muddy the waters even more, district courts in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. have shut down similar services, one of which, FilmOn X, has filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit.  If the appeal is denied, there will be a split with the Second Circuit, which ruled last April in Aereo’s favor.

In that event, Jonathan says, “There is a very good chance the Supreme Court will take this issue.”  He feels it’s “a very important issue of statutory construction that really should be decided by the Supreme Court.”

Read the Full Article, including Jonathan’s comments in paragraphs 15 and 16.