Jenner & Block

Broadcast Company Clients Win Supreme Court Copyright Infringement Decision Against Internet Retransmitter Aereo

On June 25, 2014, the United States Supreme Court announced its decision in favor of Jenner & Block’s broadcasting company clients in their high-profile battle with online streaming service Aereo, Inc.  In a 6-3 vote, the Court ruled that Aereo’s retransmission of copyrighted over-the-air television programming without broadcaster authorization is a violation of copyright law.

The Court majority concluded that Aereo’s method of retransmitting the broadcasts to subscribers through technology involving tiny individually assigned antennae, which, Aereo argued, constituted private transmission, was, in fact, “public performance” within the meaning of federal copyright law.

This has been a closely watched case involving a technology that potentially posed a substantial threat to the current over-the-air broadcasting business model.  Many considered its outcome critical to the future of the broadcast and entertainment industries, as well as to the public.  Jenner & Block was involved in every stage of the litigation of the matter, starting in the Southern District of New York, followed by appeal to the Second Circuit and, finally, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The firm’s team on the matter was led by Partners Richard L. Stone and Paul M. Smith and included Partners Amy M. Gallegos, Kenneth D. Klein, Matthew E. Price, Julie A. Shepard and Scott B. Wilkens.  Associates Ethan A. Glickstein, Christopher S. Lindsay and Jennifer Wagman Njathi made especially valuable contributions, and numerous other partners, associates, paralegals, project assistants and administrative assistants from all four of the firm’s offices also were involved.