It looks like my prediction of an Aereo Supreme Court case may come true. Variety reports that Fox filed a petition to have the Supreme Court hear the case, appealing from the Second Circuit. Whether the Court hears the case depends entirely on the justices. This follows on the heels of a case in Boston where the judge rejected an injunction against Aereo while specifically citing Cablevision. The Court has some compelling reasons to hear the case, mostly due to a split in circuits (since the Ninth and Second Circuits came to different conclusions). The scope of the case considered by the justices should be particularly interesting.
The major question is the how Aereo will impact interpretations of Cablevision, and what that means for streaming television providers down the line. The best case scenario (at least in terms of protecting innovative new services) would be a case that explicitly extends Cablevision’s protections to services like Aereo, on the grounds that such streams represent a “private performance.” It would be nice if the Supreme Court states that the method with which Aereo claims a private performance is overkill (so that other services don’t need thousands upon thousands of little antennas to avoid running afoul of copyright law). The other possibility is that the justices hold that Aereo infringed (likely rejecting their logic on the individual antennas constituting a private performance). The Court could either limit the holding’s impact on the Court’s interpretation of Cablevision (by stating that the case’s holding only involves this particular situation, thus leaving the door open to other start-ups to try offering streaming network TV services) or require some sort of licensing regiment. The worst case scenario (which is also the least likely) is that the Court guts Cablevision, causing a great deal of uncertainty for cloud-based services. Once we know the scope of the Court’s inquiry (if they accept the case), then we’ll know exactly how this case can go.
There was also some news in the realm of Facebook privacy. Facebook will apparently make its public feed available to media companies so that those companies can see what Facebook users are talking about. Media companies will be allowed to access the public feed’s API and “Keyword Insights” API, allowing those companies to see what users say and when. This is as good a time as any to remind people that Facebook is generally not private unless the user makes it private. In fact, there was recently a court case down in Georgia (Chaney v. Fayette County Public School District) that held that there is no privacy violation for material publicly available on Facebook. Keep that in mind when playing with the site’s privacy settings (or posting bikini pictures).