WASHINGTON — Aereo, a streaming video company built in Boston that could transform the way Americans watch network television, faced tough, skeptical questions from several Supreme Court justices Tuesday about its fledgling business.
If Aereo withstands copyright law challenges from the traditional TV networks, it would threaten the hold that big broadcasters have on network television. The startup company captures free broadcast television signals and then sells them to consumers over the Internet.
But the broadcasters see the service as nothing more than theft, and the comments and questions from justices indicated that Aereo may have a difficult time convincing the court that its business conforms to the law.
“It looks as if somehow you are escaping a constraint that’s imposed upon [other companies]. That’s what disturbs everyone,” said Justice Stephen Breyer, referring to the billions in fees that cable and satellite companies pay for the right to retransmit network TV shows.
“You are the only player so far that doesn’t pay any royalties at any stage,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week