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Summary:

We now have a date for the most closely watched court case in the TV and entertainment industry. A recusal increases the chance of a tie (and a win for Aereo).

Aereo antennas
photo: Rani Molla

Aereo is a scrappy startup service that delivers over-the-air TV to computers and mobile devices for $8/month. But it is also a strategic weapon that media mogul Barry Diller and other well-heeled investors want to use to drive a stake into the heart of the current business model of cable TV, which is based on selling customers large bundles of channels they often don’t want.

Aereo’s future depends on a controversial interpretation of copyright law that received a green light from a New York appeals court, but that the broadcasters want the Supreme Court to declare illegal.

The country’s highest court agreed to hear the appeal in January, and now they’ve set a date. In an argument schedule released on Tuesday, the court said it will hear the case on April 22nd.

The schedule is also notable because Justice Samuel Alito has recused himself from the case, according to ScotusBlog.

Such recusals typically arise because a judge has a financial or other type of conflict of interest. This means that the decision could end in a 4-4 tie – in which case, the lower court decision siding with Aereo will be upheld.

  1. To clarify: in the event of a tie, the lower court ruling will be upheld, but will it become precedent in all appeals circuits?

    If it doesn’t, Aereo will still be legal in NY but not in California.

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    1. I believe it would be all.. The california case was’t VS Aereo but Aereo killer a copycat with a slightly different setup. (also part of me wonders if it was secretly owned by the TV networks to purposely louse. They did’t put up much if a fight,,

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  2. Let’s hope they side clearly with property owners and secure the right to rent space and antennas.

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  3. Any word yet specifically why Alito is sitting out?

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