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Watching TV on Internet-connected devices: The ABC vs. Aereo case has potentially far-reaching consequences

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ABC, several other networks, and some broadcast television stations have sued Aero for its support of watching one's favorite broadcast television programs on an iPhone or PC with the aid of a third-party provider's equipment. When subscribers log onto Aereo's system, they see a program guide for over-the-air broadcast television programs airing at that time or in the near future on local stations. Subscribers can select which programs they wish to watch or have recorded. Aereo's main defense is based on the fact that its users are the ones who transmit the programs and each user can transmit the programs only to themselves. ABC argues that Aereo's service is the functional equivalent to cable and satellite television services, so it too should be within the public performance right. The Court may say the current definition of the public performance right does not encompass transmissions enabled by Aereo's system, and if Congress wants to outlaw services such as Aereo's, it must amend the law.

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