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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Friday to resolve a dispute between television broadcasters and Aereo, an Internet startup that the broadcasters say threatens the economic viability of their businesses.
Aereo uses an array of small antennas to stream over-the-air television signals to subscribers, allowing them to watch programs on their smartphones and computers. The broadcasters say this amounts to theft of their content and violates copyright laws. Aereo responds that it is merely helping its subscribers do what they could lawfully do since the era of rabbit-ear antennas: watch free broadcast television delivered over public airwaves.
The case could have broad implications for the way content is distributed in the future. The major television networks have said their business would be undermined by services that retransmit their signals without paying fees, as cable and satellite companies do.