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CRS – Internet Television Streaming and Copyright Law

Aereo and FilmOn X: Internet Television Streaming and Copyright Law. Emily M. Lanza, Legislative Attorney. January 13, 2014

“Companies such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon have changed how many people watch television programming by offering on-demand, online streaming to their computers,  mobile devices, and gaming consoles. Aereo and FilmOn X also stream television programming over the Internet for a monthly subscription fee. Unlike the other companies, however, the technology of Aereo and FilmOn permits subscribers to watch both live broadcast television and already-aired programming without licenses. This development in technology has triggered multiple lawsuits alleging copyright violations by these companies. The litigation reveals not only multiple interpretations of copyright law and its application to new and developing technologies, but also a possible “loophole” in the law, which some have accused Aereo and FilmOn of exploiting. The Copyright Act of 1976 provides copyright holders with the exclusive right to control how their work is reproduced, adapted, distributed, publicly displayed, or publicly performed. The issue before the courts in the lawsuits against Aereo and FilmOn X is whether a retransmission of copyrighted broadcasts over the Internet without a prior agreement with the copyright holder violated the copyright holder’s right of public performance.”

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