American streaming company Aereo fighting for its life

Gavel

The streaming service is staring down the barrel of a gun as its legal battle with major US TV stations hots up.

Supreme court chief justice John Roberts lowered the guillotine onto Aereo yesterday after demanding to know why they shouldn't have to pay broadcasting fees to the big stations just like everyone else does.

Aereo is a company that uses antennae to capture the outputs of major TV channels and then re-transmits them to each customers' devices via the internet. Customers of Aereo are only required to pay between $8-$12 each month for the service that also allows for users to record shows that are stored in the cloud.

The technology company was founded two years ago by Chaitanya Kanojia and is backed by billionaire media mogul Barry Diller.

But major media stations such as CBS, ABC and Fox have attacked Aereo claiming that they are violating copyright laws and have been plotting a legal battle against them for the past two years.

The Guardian report that stations pay such broadcasters billions of dollars every year to re-transmit their shows and according to Bill Weiser, a senior research analyst at Pivotal Research, by 2020 CBS will rake in $2 billion alone from smaller stations.

Aereo has argued all along that it has done nothing to constitute legal actions, and that their customers re-transmitting the output of larger networks doesn't represent a "public performance", which is the main issue in the case.

They state on their website that everyone in the US has a right to broadcast over-the-air television via a single antenna. Aereo claim that their antenna's provide "private" rather than "public performances", which is an argument that is backed by groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They also fear that if they're ruled against then it could be detrimental to the whole cloud computing industry.

Aereo and the major TV networks have been locking horns in legal battles across many states but still remain at a deadlock, many legal experts have already doomed Aereo to defeat by stating that the argument of the broadcasters is too strong and that the courts will side with big guns.

A verdict is expected at the end of June or early July, but until then the streaming company will be left in limbo.