On new website, Aereo lays out argument for favorable court ruling

By Ben Mook

Startup Internet TV service Aereo has launched a website to make its case to the public in advance of a U.S. Supreme Court hearing next week.

The court’s ruling after Tuesday’s arguments could make or break the service, which allows subscribers to view and record television broadcast programs online. Broadcasters, including PBS and New York’s WNET, have sued Aereo, claiming the company is violating copyright law by converting broadcast signals to streaming video.

Launched Thursday, Aereo’s website, ProtectMyAntenna.org, lays out the company’s case for why it should prevail and provides links to all court filings to date.

The case before the Supreme Court, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., et al., v. Aereo, Inc., stems from a pair of lawsuits brought by noncommercial broadcasters and commercial networks including ABC, CBS and NBC.

Aereo has based its defense on a 1984 Supreme Court decision that upheld a viewer’s right to record live television using a Betamax video recorder. Aereo is arguing that its business model is similar but uses banks of individual antennas and cloud storage for live TV recording instead of a VCR.

“What is at stake in this case is much bigger than Aereo,” said Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia, in a prepared release. “We believe that consumers are entitled to use a modern, cloud-based version of an antenna and DVR and that consumers should not be constrained to 1950’s era technology to watch free-to-air broadcast television.”

Aereo provides content by using banks of dime-sized antennas to capture broadcast signals and convert them into web-streamed video. Subscribers “rent” antennas and have the option to watch TV programs live or on demand via a device similar to a digital video recorder.

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