The cloud computing industry is breathing a sigh of relief.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court has declared internet streaming startup Aereo illegal, this decision will not harm cloud computing technology, as many in that industry feared it would.
That’s because SCOTUS specifically said that the ruling doesn’t apply to other technologies “not before them” such as cloud computing.
The ruling only covers Aereo’s business model and technology. Aereo’s tech captured over-the-air broadcast TV signals and sent them over the internet to paid subscribers who could watch the shows, or record them on a cloud DVR to watch later. Those who create TV shows, and charge a lot of money to cable companies to carry them, argued that Aereo violated copyright law. The justices just agreed.
But the fear among other companies was that if Aereo lost, it could have unintended consequences for similar technology, such as cloud storage for songs and movies.
Cablevision was one of the many companies who wrote an opinion to the Court, Engadget reported. It wrote that if Aereo lost, this could “attack the legal underpinning of all cloud-based services, everything from the Apple iCloud to Cablevision’s own remote storage DVR service.”
But not only did the court say that cloud computing was not covered, it also said that there’s a difference between storing files in the cloud that a consumer has already “lawfully acquired” and paying Aereo to watch broadcast TV on the Internet.
Here’s the part of the Supreme Court ruling that exempts cloud computing from being impacted:
Further, we have interpreted the term “the public” to apply to a group of individuals acting as ordinary members of the public who pay primarily to watch broadcast television programs, many of which are copyrighted. We have said that it does not extend to those who act as owners or possessors of the relevant product. And we have not considered whether the public performance right is infringed when the user of a service pays primarily for something other than the transmission of copyrighted works, such as the remote storage of content. See Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 31 (distinguishing cloud-based storage services because they “offer consumers more numerous and convenient means of playing back copies that the consumers have already lawfully acquired” (emphasis in original)). In addition, an entity does not transmit to the public if it does not transmit to a substantial number of people outside of a family and its social circle.
… We cannot now answer more precisely how the Transmit Clause or other provisions of the Copyright Act will apply to technologies not before us. We agree with the Solicitor General that “[q]uestions involving cloud computing, [remote storage] DVRs, and other novel issues not before the Court, as to which ‘Congress has not plainly marked [the] course,’ should await a case in which they are squarely presented.”