Aereo CEO Says Lawsuits Are Threats to 'Entire Industries'

Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia - P 2013

 Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia - P 2013

He claims that the implications of copyright disputes from television broadcasters go beyond his company.

At a Goldman Sachs investor conference on Tuesday, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia was asked to address the copyright lawsuits from television broadcasters that have dogged the company since its launch in March 2012.

In response, Kanojia highlighted the stakes.

"To stop Aereo, you'd be stopping entire industries," he said.

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The specific issue in the court battles is public performance under copyright law. Kanojia maintains that Aereo's system of capturing a television signal via antennae and transmitting it to a subscriber's digital devices is private in nature.

He points to a 2008 appellate decision concerning Cablevision's remote-DVR as justification for his belief. That decision, he says, made it possible for Google Drive to store music. He believes that if broadcasters ultimately prevail against his company, it'll mean an unwinding of precedent that will have ramifications for others.

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"The implication of not allowing private performance means there is more people going to pay performance licenses," he says, predicting opposition to his company could be a threat to larger entertainment companies working on cloud DVR services.

At the conference, Kanojia also announced that Aereo would soon be launching in Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and San Antonio, continuing the company's slow nationwide rollout. Aereo still hasn't released subscriber numbers, but it is likely benefiting from all the news coverage of its expansion. Kanojia did say that subscriber levels have jumped tenfold in the last few months.