The dispute “goes far beyond the fate of one company,” Aereo‘s Chet Kanojia says today in a passionate blog post about the copyright infringement suits major broadcasters have filed against the Barry Diller-backed streaming venture. “There are certain things we take for granted as Americans,” he writes. “One of those things is free access to over-the-air broadcast television and the ability to record and watch our programs.” Aereo takes broadcast signals and streams them locally to its paid subscribers. That gives people the flexibility to watch live TV — and to record shows for time-shifted viewing — on web-connected devices including tablets and smartphones. Broadcasters say that Aereo basically steals their content for a business that endangers their ad sales and future ventures. But Kanojia says “the public owns the airwaves” and broadcasters must use them to serve the community, not just to fatten their bottom lines. People have become so accustomed to paying for cable and satellite TV that “many consumers have simply forgotten that they have the right and ability to access broadcast television for free.” The Aereo chief repeats his company’s view that it makes it easy for consumers to exercise that right by providing an antenna and DVR “remotely, in the cloud with no boxes or wires.” He also rejects broadcasters’ view that Aereo is taking advantage of loopholes in court decisions that promote innovation. “It is a sad and troubling state of affairs if a company could be penalized for simply following the law,” he says.
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