US Supreme Court Hears Argument that Might Hurt Cloud Storage

23 April 2014 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

During a hearing in a copyright infringement case about TV programs the alleged infringer’s attorney argued that the “cloud computing industry is freaked out about this case” and that a ruling against Aereo would expose the “the cloud industry” to “potentially ruinous liability” as reported by the New York Times.

However can the Supreme Court really understand the cloud?  “The Aereo case is being decided by people who call iCloud ‘the iCloud.’ Yes, really” was a Washington Post blog which poked fun at the Supreme Court Justices that they did not really have a clue about the technology in dispute.

Computerworld reported that Aereo’s position before the Supreme Court that:

Aereo does not trigger the so-called public performance clause in U.S. copyright law, and should not have to pay royalties, because it gives subscribers access only to TV stations that are available over the air for free.

While copyright law requires royalties for public performances, defined as a performance “at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered,” Aereo provides a personalized service to each subscriber.

However Computerworld described the TV networks response that:

…the Supreme Court doesn’t need to deal with cloud storage services in the case. A cloud storage service is different from Aereo because users are providing content they’ve obtained, while Aereo gives subscribers access to content…

The New York Times also reported that:

Malcolm L. Stewart, a deputy solicitor general, argued in support of the broadcasters on behalf of the federal government. He acknowledged that cloud services that store and perhaps aggregate content were in some ways similar and posed difficult questions under the copyright laws.

Based on comments during the argument from the Justices they said they understood the far-reaching implications of the ruling in Aereo case, but really do they understand?

Now the cloud community awaits the ruling

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