Aereo founder remains confident in company despite legal conflict
Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia spoke to The Associated Press before Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing. Questions and answers have been edited for length.
Q: Why are you confident about your prospects?
A: Nobody has disputed the idea that a consumer can have an antenna. Nobody disputes that a consumer can make personal recordings. The dispute seems to be about where the equipment can be installed.
Q: As a customer, I have a dedicated antenna that receives my signal. But when I record something, isn’t that going on a group recorder, constituting a public performance?
A: But it’s your unique file. So if 30,000 people in New York recorded a particular show, that’s 30,000 unique copies that are different for each individual. The antenna is sitting dead until you log in and say ‘I want to watch NBC.’ That’s when it first tunes into NBC.
Q: To what degree did you design everything — your marketing and the antennas — with a possible lawsuit in mind?
A: We expected controversy. We set out to build a highly, highly compliant, legal company. We were proud of the fact that we hired the best possible lawyers. We had the best possible advisers.
Q: If you expand abroad, will you face these legal issues country by country?
A: That’s why we haven’t done anything yet. I don’t think we understand enough. I think in Europe the situation is reasonably becoming clear. There have been some recent court cases around the remote DVRs and things like that which have gone the right way. The regulatory environment is a lot simpler in most of these countries because nobody objects to the idea of an antenna.
Q: You’ve said you have no plan B should you lose. So is the idea that you turn out the lights and leave, or would you try to evolve into something else?
A: The technology itself has tremendous value. The fact that we’ve created this cloud-based system at a cost point and it works is going to have a lot of value to a lot of people.