Aereo Case Too Close To Call

If you’ve been waiting all day for news on the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in the case of ABC v. Aereo, here’s a report from the Wall Street Journal‘s Brent Kendall:

Supreme Court justices on Tuesday expressed unease with online-video startup Aereo Inc., but they also voiced concerns about the consequences of ruling for the broadcasters that are challenging the legality of the service.

After an hourlong oral argument, the outcome of the case appeared too close to call….

Chief Justice John Roberts voiced skepticism about Aereo’s service, saying it was built in a way specifically designed to get around restrictions in U.S. copyright law. However, he also said that one could view Aereo as fairly similar to an equipment provider like Radio Shack that sells a consumer an antenna and a digital video recorder to make legal personal copies of programming.

While the court signaled its reservations about Aereo, the justices also made clear that they had concerns about the implications of ruling for the broadcasters. Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and others said a ruling against Aereo, which is a cloud-based service, threatened to harm more established cloud-computing services, such as Apple Inc. ‘s iCloud. Justice Breyer said the broadcasters’ arguments made him “nervous,” while Justice Sotomayor said the case was a difficult one.

Sounds like one of those cases that will get decided 5-4 with three concurring opinions and three separate dissents.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.