Master of Mass Communication (MMC)
Aereo and FilmOn X are online streaming services that allow subscribers to watch and record broadcast content online by capturing over-the-air signals through antennas assigned to each user and streaming that content to subscribers. The broadcasters and media owners who own copyrights in the content transmitted via the over-the-air signals that Aereo and FilmOn X capture argue that this service infringes upon their exclusive right of public performance, specifically under the Transmit Clause. The broadcasters have brought suit against both Aereo and FilmOn X for copyright infringement in several courts across the United States; some courts have found the online streaming services to be infringing, while others have found no infringement—thus creating a split among the U.S. circuit courts of appeals. While courts have interpreted and applied the Transmit Clause in prior cases, one case in particular in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Cablevision, has come under critique for its interpretation of the law; this case’s precedence is what causes the current issue in the circuit courts, which can only be resolved through a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. Using traditional legal research methods, this thesis examines whether Aereo and FilmOn X are infringing broadcasters’ copyrights in their over-the-air signals and concludes that they are infringing under the Transmit Clause. The Second Circuit’s opinion favoring Aereo is wrong because of its incorrect reliance upon Cablevision and based upon the plain language of the statute, the legislative history, and prior case law, which all support a finding of infringement.
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Cuttner, Elizabeth, "The future of broadcast television: online streaming infringement and the U.S. Supreme Court" (2014). LSU Master's Theses. 2130.