I get it, Bachelorette fans, you really think that ABC and the other broadcast networks are “free” and that you should be able to watch them without paying for them. You’ve been told, all your life, that they’re on the “public” airwaves, and that means everybody should be able to watch them without paying the cable company its monthly vig. You hate today’s Aereo decision, because once again the most pro-business Supreme Court ever backed “the evil cable companies” over consumers who want to “cut the cord.” Check out Brian Barrett’s excellent piece on how the Court killed technology and freedom itself this morning.
And when you are done crying, please, grow up. You can’t steal television. Aereo was stealing television. Aereo was stealing television and selling it back to you at a cheap price… which is what fences do when they sell you something they’ve stolen….
And spare me the “you can’t steal something that is free” argument. T.V. is not free, as evidenced by the fact that the broadcast networks charge the cable companies for the privilege of rebroadcasting it. Calling T.V. free is like calling water “free.” Technically, it might be true, but you are still expected to pay when somebody sends the stuff to your house.
Aereo argued it wasn’t stealing anything, it was just offering a technological solution that allowed consumers to access their “free” television in a modern and convenient way. That’s the same argument Betamax made in the seminal Sony v. Universal Studios case. Betamax argued that it was just providing the technology for people to access content they already had a right to… and if they wanted to use that technology to fast forward through commercials, so be it.
It was a winning argument, and a good one, and one that doesn’t seem to have anything at all to do with Aereo’s technology. None of the Supreme Court justices bought Aereo’s claim. While the decision split 6-3, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy joining the liberal voting block to form the majority, even the conservative dissenters were skeptical of Aereo’s legality. The Court split has more to do with who is supposed to stop Aereo — Antonin Scalia writing for the dissent said that it was Congress’s responsibility to close the “loophole” Aereo was trying to exploit — rather than whether or not Aereo should be stopped.