Why the Supreme Court just set TV innovation back a decade


It’s 24 hours later, and I’m still furious.

When news of Aereo’s demise broke yesterday morning, I did my best to calmly explain why six people used the law to kill the most innovative TV service in a generation. But now I might as well say how I really feel.

The Supreme Court, which ruled 6-3 that Aereo’s streaming service infringed on broadcasters’ copyright, was not just wrong. It was terrible, stupid and misguided.

Where to begin? First, there’s the slapdash legal reasoning that led the court to declare that Aereo engaged in a “public performance” when it rented antennas and DVRs that let consumers watch and record over-the-air TV. By the letter of the law, Aereo clearly did no such thing — but the good judges swept this aside with what the dissent rightly called “an improvised standard (“looks-like-cable-TV”) that will sow confusion for years to come.”

The court’s improvisation turned on the…

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