In a ruling that could ensure the ongoing use of broadcast TV as the main platform for live NFL games for decades to come, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Internet companies cannot retransmit programming harvested via antennas capturing otherwise “free” signals.
As explained by the Associated Press, a divided Supreme Court (is it ever unanimous on anything important?) found that a company known as Aereo must pay networks for content that it acquires freely through the public airwaves.
The ruling slams the door on efforts to exploit a loophole that would have legalized copyright infringement on an unprecedented scale, undermining and devaluing network programming and ultimately making it harder for those networks to support the gigantic rights fees paid for live porting events, like the NFL.
if the outcome had gone the other way, a turbulent TV industry would have been thrust into further tumult, with the ever-fracturing audience being further siphoned by companies that provide the ability to access programming that was recorded during free broadcasts, stored digitally, and then viewed on an on-demand basis.
The NFL and other sports leagues supported the efforts of the networks to protect their broadcast assets.