Jun 26, 2014

Will the Court decision in the Aereo case impact other cloud computing companies?

The Supreme Court just ruled against Aereo, the company that gave out antennas to subscribers that allowed them to send the signal to a cloud based DVR and stream the signal back. The Court found this infringed on the rights of TV broadcasters. Will this impact cloud storage providers who allow users to store music and movies in the cloud?


Scotusblog has a great, easy to understand summary of the decision if you are interested. http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/06/how-copyright-law-blocks-cheap-interne... 


I’ve read an article or two saying this puts cloud computing providers at risk, but I’m not sure that the decision actually does that. I haven’t read the entire decision, but Justice Breyer, who is generally considered the most tech savvy member of the Supreme Court goes out of his way to limit the holding to the facts in the Aereo case. He even explicitly says that the decision does not apply to cloud computing in general.


Even granting that, however, it is common for decisions to open up a can of unintended worms. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are attempts to use expansive readings to apply the Aereo case to other cloud computing disputes. This decision seems to put a lot of emphasis on the fact the Aereo “contemporaneously streams” video content. I think this is an attempt to differentiate what Aereo was doing from people storing content in the cloud. Whether it is sufficient, only time will tell. 

It might if the other companies are using the same business model as Aereo. It probably won't if they aren't, so it really depends on the company's business practices.
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