The Supreme Court sent ripples through the tech community Wednesday after ruling in favor of the TV networks who sued Internet-streaming service Aereo.
The court voted 6 to 3, saying Aereo infringes copyright laws by distributing content without paying retransmission fees.
The Boston-born startup had argued they were just an equipment distributor — in this case, an antenna the size of a penny that lets subscribers record and stream broadcast TV programs on their portable devices. The high court ruled that the company is violating the broadcasters' copyrights by taking the signals for free. It’s a major blow to the company, which employes about 75 people at their Boston office.
In a statement, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia of Newton, said the court’s ruling sends a chilling message to the tech industry and implies that the country is moving toward a permission-based system for technology innovation. But the ruling doesn’t surprise some, including Albert Lai of Brightcove, a web-based video hosting company.
"I think everyone always smiled and said, oh, it’s pretty neat — it’s innovative but it was more interesting in the fact that they kind of worked around technical limitations and that they were bending things in a way to allow users access to this content," he said.
The court’s ruling could shut down the company unless it enters licensing agreements with content producers.