The Stack Archive

Who owns stuff in the cloud? Copyright battle in US Supreme Court could threaten cloud storage companies

Thu 24 Apr 2014

So, what happens in the US courts isn’t always that relevant to us in Europe but this might prove to be a pivotal issue.  Aereo offers an online TV service and the judges are looking at whether its recording of broadcast programming from an off-site antenna and delivery via the Internet to a single customer violates federal copyright law.

So far, so not-so-interesting it might seem. But, at the heart of this story from BusinessWeek’s Alex Barinka, is what constitutes a public performance of material stored in the cloud. If it is interpreted too broadly then the fear among cloud companies like Google, Dropbox, Apple, Amazon and Box is they could be considered breaking the law when users download pictures, videos or documents.

“While broadcasters including CBS Corp. (CBS:US), Walt Disney Co.’s ABC and 21st Century Fox Inc. say the startup is illegally distributing content, Aereo contends that it’s delivering the same service as a TV antenna in an easier way.

Aereo, which is backed by Barry Diller, lets customers in 11 cities watch live and recorded broadcast programs for as little as $8 a month by collecting over-the-air signals through thousands of dime-sized antennas. A federal appeals court last year said Aereo’s service is legal because the separate antennas let each customer create a distinct copy of a broadcast program for viewing, so no public transmission takes place.

After that video is collected, the equipment works similarly to cloud-storage companies: The information is stored and can be accessed via the Web through an array of customers’ devices like computers, smartphones and tablets.”

To read the full article please click here


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