Supreme Court Rules that Aereo Violates Public Performance Rights


June 25, 2014 - Today, the Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision in American Broadcasting Company, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., holding that a system that provides Internet subscribers with unauthorized retransmissions of broadcast television programming directly infringes the programs' copyrights by producing infringing public performances. U.S., No. 13-461, 6/25/2014.  


According to the Court, the Aereo system publicly performs the copyrighted programming within the meaning of the Copyright Act by "transmitting" it to Internet subscribers. The holding is consistent with the AIPLA amicus brief filed in this case.  


In response to the opinion, AIPLA President Wayne Sobon stated:

We are happy that the Court vindicated the scope of the public performance right under the facts of this case. Congress has shown its intent to regulate this kind of activity in its detailed provisions on cable compulsory licensing.


We agree with Justice Breyer that this outcome should be limited to Aereo's particular technology, and not interpreted in a way that stifles further technological advances in this area. To the extent any adjustments to the statute are necessary to ensure continued innovation, we look to Congress for guidance.



AIPLA, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, was founded in 1897 to maintain a high standard of professional ethics, to aid in the improvement in laws relating to intellectual property and in their proper interpretation by the courts, and to provide legal education to the public and to its members on intellectual property issues. AIPLA is a national bar association constituted primarily of lawyers in private and corporate practice, in government service, and in the academic community.  


AIPLA Contact:
James Crowne

Director of Legal Affairs

(703) 412-4353