Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What amounts to Communication to the Public

US Copyright Act of 1976 gives copyright owner exclusive right to perform the copyrighted work publicly.[1] This is a case[2] of infringement of broadcasting rights under copyright law, where the defendant Aereo Inc. started a service over the internet through which its subscribers could watch TV programmes over the internet at the same time as the programs are broadcast over the air.

Broadcasters, distributors, television produces etc. argued that this act of Aereo violates their exclusive right of public performance provided under the Copyright Act, 1976.

In response to the above claim Supreme Court hold that the act of Aereo infringes the right provided under the Copyright Act. The court considered two questions (1) whether Aereo’s operation amounts to performance (2) whether it’s a public performance. In answer to first question it concluded activities of Aereo amounts to performance. Answering the second question it rejected Aereo’s argument that transmission of program to a subscriber is made through a specific antenna allotted to that subscriber only so does not constitutes public performance. The court further clarified that it amounts to transmission to public or public performance where members of pubic receive the performance at the same time and place or different times or places. In other words, the public need not to be situated together.

-Gajendra Khichi

[1] 17 U.S.C. SS 106(4)
[2] American Broadcasting Cos. V. Aereo 573 U.S. _(2014)