Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation
(EFF) have filed a brief in a U.S. District Court in New York City supporting
Aereo, which is the target of a suit by broadcasters.
In their amicus brief, the groups say the case is about the
right of individuals to watch free local broadcast TV using their choice of technology.
Aereo, which is backed by Barry Diller, claims it is
providing remote individual antennas to each subscriber, then taking individual
TV station signals off those antennas and delivering them over the Internet to
computers, smartphones and tablets. Diller has argued, including to the Senate,
that Aereo is no more a program distribution service than antenna supplier
Broadcasters counter that Aereo is retransmitting their
signals without paying for them, which they claim violates copyright law.
Public Knowledge and EFF side squarely with Diller and
Aereo. "By providing an antenna to viewers, Aereo does nothing more than make
it easier for viewers to access a broadcaster's free service. By making free TV
better, Aereo improves and does not disrupt the television industry, and helps
carry out the important public goal of preserving the ability of viewers to
watch free-to-air TV."
They also argue that there is no copyright law violation
because watching TV is a private performance, not a public one.