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Internet TV case: Justices skeptical, concerned about Aereo

Grappling with fast-changing technology, Supreme Court justices debated Tuesday whether they can protect the copyrights of TV broadcasters to the shows they send out without strangling innovations in the use of the internet.

The high court heard arguments in a dispute between television broadcasters and Aereo Inc., which takes free television signals from the airwaves and charges subscribers to watch the programs on laptop computers, smartphones and even their large-screen televisions. The case has the potential to bring big changes to the television industry.

There was a good measure of skepticism about Aereo’s approach, sometimes leavened with humor. Chief Justice John Roberts declared at one point: “I’m just saying your technological model is based solely on circumventing legal prohibitions that you don’t want to comply with, which is fine. I mean, you know, lawyers do that.” READ FULL STORY

Fox exec: 'We can't sit idly by and let [Aereo] steal our signal'

A top executive with the owner of the Fox broadcast network on Monday threatened to convert the network to a pay-TV-only channel if Internet startup Aereo Inc. continues to “steal” Fox’s over-the-air signal and sell it to consumers without paying for rights.

Anyone with an antenna can pick up a TV station’s signals for free. But cable and satellite companies typically pay stations and networks for the right to distribute their programming to subscribers. Industrywide, those retransmission fees add up to billions of dollars every year.

Last week, that business was shaken after a federal appeals court issued a preliminary ruling siding with Aereo, which contends that it doesn’t have to pay those fees because it relies on thousands of tiny antennas.

News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said that not being paid by Aereo jeopardizes the economics of broadcast TV, which relies on both retransmission fees and advertising.

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