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Court Cases

Scalia: ‘We Came Within One Vote of Declaring the VCR Contraband’

ScaliaAereoIn his dissenting opinion Wednesday in the case of American Broadcasters vs. Aereo, Justice Antonin Scalia hinted that it’s now up to Congress to decide if future Aereos can exist.

Scalia, along with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, disagreed with the majority in the 6-3 decision. Scalia reminds of an earlier high court decision involving a disruptive technology. “We came within one vote of declaring the VCR contraband 30 years ago,” Scalia writes, pointing to the 1984 Universal v. Sony decision. Scalia continues:

I share the Court’s evident feeling that what Aereo is doing (or enabling to be done) to the Networks’ copyrighted programming ought not to be allowed. But perhaps we need not distort the Copyright Act to forbid it.

Hence, the proper course is not to bend and twist the Act’s terms in an effort to produce a just outcome, but to apply the law as it stands and leave to Congress the task of deciding whether the Copyright Act needs an upgrade.

 

Barry Diller on Aereo: ‘It’s Over’

barry diller aereo interviewCNBC’s Becky Quick got the first comments from IAC Chairman and Aereo investor Barry Diller about the Supreme Court ruling against the streaming TV service. Quick caught up with Diller, who is out of the country, on the phone.

“I do think it is a big loss for consumers wanting an alternative to the bundle,” says Diller who was at the Supreme Court for the arguments in April. “We did try, but now it’s over.” Diller’s comments today echo what he’s been saying leading up to the decision, should Aereo lose.

Aereo CEO and Founder Chet Kanojia adds, “Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court is a massive setback for the American consumer. We’ve said all along that we worked diligently to create a technology that complies with the law, but today’s decision clearly states that how the technology works does not matter. This sends a chilling message to the technology industry.”

Paul Clement, the attorney for the broadcasters, says, “Today’s decision is a victory for consumers. The Court has sent a clear message that it will uphold the letter and spirit of the law just as Congress intended.”

The petitioners in the case, American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, included American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.; Disney Enterprises, Inc.; CBS Broadcasting Inc.; CBS Studios Inc.; NBCUniversal Media, LLC; NBC Studios, LLC; Universal Network Television, LLC; Telemundo Network Group LLC; WNJU-TV Broadcasting LLC; WNET; Thirteen Productions, LLC; Fox Television Stations, Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; WPIX, LLC; Univision Television Group, Inc.; The Univision Network Limited Partnership; and Public Broadcasting Service.

Supreme Court Sides With Broadcasters in Aereo Case

aereo antennaeThe Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the broadcasters in ABC vs. Aereo. In the 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice Breyer, the High Court “goes out out of its way to make clear that its ruling does not endanger other technologies,” according to SCOTUSBlog.

The decision is the end of a long road for the lawsuit, which began when Aereo launched in 2012. Acting on behalf of the local stations in New York City, Aereo’s first market, broadcasters filed the initial suit less than two weeks after the streaming television service was announced. Four months later, a federal judge ruled in Aereo’s favor. In early 2013, a federal appeals court upheld the lower court’s ruling. In October 2013, the broadcasters petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case.

The High Court heard oral arguments in the case in April. At the time, justices seemed conflicted over the broader implications the ruling could have over the cloud computing industry. During the arguments, the Supreme Court heard from both sides as well as the Deputy Solicitor General, who argued against Aereo on behalf of the government.

As for what’s next for Aereo: both Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia and investor Barry Diller have said that the streaming service would be shut down in the event of a Supreme Court loss. “The mission of this company was to try to create an open platform, to try to wedge the system open a little bit. And if we don’t succeed in that, despite our best efforts and good law on our side and merits of our case, it would be a tragedy, but it is what it is,” Kanojia told Bloomberg TV in April.

Developing…

Following Conviction of Journalists, AJAM to Produce Special on Press Freedom

AJASpecialFollowing today’s guilty verdicts in the trial of several Al Jazeera journalists, the network’s American channel will produce a special on the case and on press freedom — or lack of it — around the world.

“War on Truth” airs at 8:30pmET tonight and will be hosted by David Shuster. Shuster will interview Al Jazeera English reporter Sue Turton – another of the AJE journalists sentenced by the Egyptian court. Turton, a British journalist, was sentenced in absentia.

Al Jazeera America’s Jonathan Betz will cover world reaction to the sentencing and Randall Pinkston and Ben Moran will put together a look at other journalists in danger.

“Consider This” at 10 pm with host Antonio Mora will also feature a full hour on press freedom.

Al Jazeera America CEO Ehab Al Shihabi will be interviewed on PBS’ “Charlie Rose,” airing tonight.

CNN, NBC, FNC Specials on O.J. Simpson Murder Case, 20 Years Later

CNNOJ2Tonight at 9pmET, CNN’s Kyra Phillips reports “O.J.’s Wild Ride: 20 Years After the Chase,” looking back on the slow-speed pursuit of O.J. Simpson on the night of June 17, 1994, four days after the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

Tomorrow night at 9pmET, NBC presents a two-hour “Dateline” special on the 20th anniversary of the case. Josh Mankiewicz reports “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: What the Jury Never Heard,” which features exclusive interviews with Kris Jenner, a friend of Nicole Brown Simpson, as well as a key witness who speaks out for the first time.

Friday at 7pmET, Greta Van Susteren hosts a special on Fox News Channel. A former criminal defense attorney, Van Susteren’s TV career can be traced back to the so-called trial of the century. Her legal analysis for CNN led to the show “Burden of Proof.” FNC’s Geraldo Rivera hosted the Fox News special “O.J. Simpson At 20″ last month.

Next Monday at 10pmET, CBS’s “48 Hours” will present a look back at the trial.

Case Closed for Jana Winter as Supreme Court Will Not Take Up Source Case

jana winterThe Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the lawyers of movie theater killer James Holmes who demanded FoxNews.com reporter Jana Winter be compelled to testify about the source of one of her stories.

The high court’s decision keeps in place a December ruling from the New York Court of Appeals ending the nearly two-year-long legal fight.

Winter, who lives and works in New York, reported on the existence of Holmes’ diary which he reportedly gave to his psychiatrist before he went on his July 2012 shooting spree.

“We’re pleased that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of free speech,” Fox News said in a statement. “The Court made it clear that Jana Winter can never be compelled to testify in Colorado, and that all New York-based journalists and media companies can rely on New York’s strong shield law when they are covering news across the country.”

“I hope that this will really change the way that reporters work,” Winter told TVNewser in December, following the appellate court decision. “I hope that people can go to another state and report on something and promise a source that they will remain confidential, and mean it, and not have to go through what I went through.”

Alec Baldwin Cuffed in Manhattan

InTouchBaldwinFormer MSNBC host Alec Baldwin was detained this morning and given a summons for disorderly conduct after NYPD officers stopped him for riding his bike against traffic in Manhattan. The Daily News reports:

The hotheaded actor became unruly with officers who asked him for identification after they stopped him at E. 16th St. and Fifth Ave. in the Flatiron District about 10:15 a.m., the sources said.

“The officers approached him and told him that he was riding the wrong way on the street and asked him for ID,” an NYPD spokesman said. “But he didn’t have any ID on him. He then began to act belligerent to police.”

A rep for Baldwin tells InTouch, “He was not arrested or charged with a crime. He has been released.”

How the Evening Newscasts Covered the Aereo Supreme Court Arguments

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 7.20.49 PMABC, CBS, FOX and NBC were at the Supreme Court today, on many levels. Reporters were there to cover the proceedings, lawyers argued on behalf of the networks, and executives sat in to watch the cases for and against Aereo. Two of the three evening newscasts reported on the case tonight.

“NBC Nightly News” and “CBS Evening News” each aired a story four minutes into their newscasts.

“Full disclosure right up top,” said Brian Williams, “This company (NBC) is a big player in this case, as are a lot of big names in media, who are tonight, just like us, covering it as a news story.” Stephanie Gosk then reported on what Aereo is, and what the argument is all about.

“Major networks, including CBS, are suing an an internet startup company claiming it is essentially stealing programming with a new technology,” said Scott Pelley in his introduction of a Chip Reid story.

“Nightly News” and “Evening News” also led with stories from the Supreme Court: the Court’s decision to uphold a ban on affirmative action in Michigan.

“ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” did not report on the Aereo case. “World News” led with the latest out of Ukraine.

Supreme Court Justices Express Concern Over Scope of Aereo Ruling

supreme_court_buildingWhile hearing oral arguments from attorneys representing the broadcast networks and Aereo this morning, the Supreme Court justices “appeared unsure” how to rule in the case, expressing concerns that a broad ruling could affect cloud computing companies like Dropbox and Amazon.

Bloomberg reports the justices posed questions about both the cloud computing industry and copyright violations:

Hearing arguments today in Washington, some justices suggested they viewed Aereo as violating broadcaster copyrights by using thousands of dime-sized antennas to get over-the-air signals without paying fees. Chief Justice John Roberts led the questioning, asking whether Aereo’s equipment had any purpose “other than to get around the copyright laws.”

At the same time, the hour-long hearing didn’t clearly indicate the likely outcome, as justices led by Stephen Breyer repeatedly asked whether a ruling favoring the broadcasters would imperil the cloud computing industry.

Justices also raised the issue of whether the Barry Diller-backed startup should be considered a cable service, according to Variety: Read more

With an Aereo Win, ‘The Television Industry Will Be Profoundly Reconfigured’

aereo antennaeOn the eve of the most significant media case in years before the Supreme Court, the high court has granted a request from the Deputy Solicitor General to argue in support of broadcasters who have sued streaming service Aereo. The broadcasters — ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX — will cede federal lawyers 10 minutes of their allotted 30 minutes. Aereo will also have 30 minutes to argue its case tomorrow.

The New York TimesDavid Carr interviews Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia, as well as industry executives who side with the broadcasters:

Speaking on the phone on Thursday, Mr. Kanojia said he liked his facts but had no idea how things would play out. “It’s a bit of a coin flip,” he said. A lot of people will be watching to see how that coin lands, less because of what it means for Aereo specifically than what it portends for the broader media ecosystem. A decision is expected this summer.

I spent time in Hollywood last week chatting with various executives, and Aereo was described variously as “a fencing operation peddling stolen goods” and “thieves masquerading as innovators.” That’s about as friendly as it got: Aereo may be small — [Barry] Diller called it “a pimple” — but it represents something mighty important. If Aereo is allowed to store and transmit signals without payment, the television industry will be profoundly reconfigured.

Kanojia also appeared on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” this weekend. TVSpy has the video.

We’ll be breaking down the arguments in the Aereo case with U.S. Law Week managing editor Tom Taylor, Internet attorney Tim Bukher and BIA/Kelsey chief economist Mark Fratrik at the TVNewser Show next Tuesday. Click here for more information and to register.

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