Aereo Signs Off: The Supreme Court’s Decision and its Impact on Other Cloud Technologies

Zach McGee John Tehranian Kelly Klaus
January 14, 2015


Under existing federal law, copyright owners possess the exclusive right to control public performances of their works. However, determining what types of transmissions might constitute public performances is a matter wrought with uncertainty, especially with the advent of new digital technologies that provide for remote time-shifting and Internet streaming of television programming. On June 22, 2014, the Supreme Court held in American Broadcasting Cos. Inc. vs. Aereo, Inc. that Aereo, an upstart Internet television service that had been delivering broadcast television programs over the Internet to its subscribers for just $8 a month, was liable to content owners for making unauthorized public performances of their copyrighted works. The Court’s decision dealt a death blow to Aereo but the ad hoc nature of the holding has caused many to speculate that its interpretation of public performance rights under the Copyright Act could spell trouble for Dropbox, Google Drive and other current and future technology platforms that provide users with access to content via the Cloud.

This program traces the history of re-transmission rights under the Copyright Act from the Supreme Court’s Fortnightly case in 1968 through to the Court’s recent decision in Aereo, and discusses the important legal and policy issues raised by the Aereo litigation from the perspective of experts in the fields of copyright and entertainment law.


Kelly Klaus, Partner, Munger Tolles & Olson, Los Angeles, CA

Zach McGee, Senior Vice President, Business Affairs, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Los Angeles, CA

John Tehranian, Partner, One LLP, Newport Beach, CA

Kelly’s practice is focused on copyright and complex commercial litigation. He has represented all of the major motion picture studios and all of the major recorded music companies in some of their highest-profile copyright litigation matters in recent years. The Daily Journal has named Kelly as one of the 75 leading intellectual property lawyers in California in each of the last four years. In recent years, he represented the four major recorded music companies in their trial against LimeWire and its founder (resulting in a $105 million settlement); the six major motion picture studios in their successful infringement action against the Zediva DVD-streaming service; and the studios in their successful action against RealNetworks for violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions with its “RealDVD” DVD-copying device. He is a member of the Los Angeles Copyright Society and the board of Legal Advisers of the Copyright Alliance. Kelly received his B.A. from UCLA and his J.D. from Stanford Law School. Following law school, and prior to joining Munger Tolles, he was a law clerk to Judge William H. Orrick, Jr., U.S. District Court, Northern District of California; to Judge Pamela Ann Rymer, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; and to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Supreme Court of the United States.

Zach leads worldwide business affairs for Sony’s home entertainment division. Before moving to Sony, he was the Senior Vice President, Head of Business & Legal Affairs at Miramax, a leading independent film and television studio. Before joining Miramax, Zach was a Vice President, Legal Affairs, with NBC Universal, Inc. Prior to moving in-house, he was an associate with Davis Polk. Zach clerked for the Honorable Michael B. Mukasey, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and he received his Masters of Business Administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Zach also has taught negotiation ethics for lawyers as an Adjunct Professor at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University.

John is a founding partner of One LLP and the Paul W. Wildman Chair and Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School. A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, John has litigated numerous high-profile lawsuits, including copyright, trademark and right of publicity disputes involving Madonna, Don Henley, B.B. King, Bettie Page, Jimi Hendrix, and Perez Hilton, among others. Variety’s 2013 Legal Impact Report recognized him as one of the world’s top 50 entertainment lawyers and he has been repeatedly honored as a Southern California Super Lawyer. John’s writing has been widely cited, from testimony before Congress and decisions of the state, federal and Israeli courts to briefs before the Supreme Court in such landmark intellectual property cases as MGM v. Grokster, Tiffany v. eBay, Golan v. Holder and Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons.

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