FOR RELEASE: November 12, 2013

Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute


Arlington, Va., Nov. 12 – The Media Institute has filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case that has far-reaching consequences for the intellectual property rights of broadcasters.  The Institute filed a brief in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., urging the Court to grant a petition for certiorari from the petitioners in a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Aereo employs a technological scheme involving thousands of dime-sized antennas to make individual copies of broadcast content, which it then retransmits to its subscribers.  The company claims that since each copy is intended for a single user, the company is not creating a “public performance” of the copyrighted content that would require payment of licensing fees.

“If a picture tells a thousand words, a thousand antennas tell the picture,” the brief states.  “Aereo’s bizarre engineering, employing thousands of antennas to do the work of one, reveals to all what is really going on.”  Aereo’s practices amount to “manipulative technological exploitation,” the brief says.

The Institute’s brief argues that Aereo’s model violates the rights of copyright holders and is an affront to the basic purposes of copyright protection.  Moreover, Aereo’s unlicensed retransmissions pose a massive threat to the settled economic and legal arrangements that undergird the broadcast industry.

The brief explains in detail why the recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upholding Aereo’s practices is wrong and should be rejected by the Supreme Court.

“This Court should grant the petition to vindicate the clear intent of Congress to protect the copyright interests vested in broadcasters from unfair exploitation,” the brief concludes.

The Institute’s brief was written by Prof. Rodney A. Smolla, visiting professor of law at the Duke University School of Law in Durham, N.C.  Prof. Smolla is a legal and constitutional scholar who serves on the advisory council of The Media Institute’s intellectual property program, the National CyberEducation Project, as well as the Institute’s First Amendment Advisory Council.

The brief can be viewed on The Media Institute’s website at

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