Wyden: Aereo ruling will ‘discourage innovation’

The Supreme Court’s decision to kill the streaming television service Aereo will be bad for new technologies across the spectrum, according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

“It's not rocket science: It's going to discourage innovation,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post posted on Thursday.

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The senator, who helped craft one of the foundational laws protecting speech on the Internet, said that he worried that too many people were using outdated regulations to deal with new technologies.   

“I want to be clear, I'm not saying that there should be no government, no oversight, no regulation,” he said. “What I want to make sure of is that various kind of government policies intended for 20th century services don't stifle 21st century innovation.”

Uber, for instance, needs the same legal certainty that Twitter, Facebook and other Web giants enjoyed in order to get off the ground.

The 1996 Communications Decency Act allowing those companies to avoid liability for offensive or slanderous things users write, which Wyden helped write, made sure that the Internet could become the economic powerhouse that it has been, he said.

“It basically facilitated an explosion of political and creative expression,” Wyden said.

Outdated policies that don't create that safe space, he added, would make it harder for the next revolutionary technology to get up and running. 

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that Aereo’s use of miniature antennas to beam broadcast TV signals to subscribers’ tablets, laptops and smartphones was a violation of broadcasters’ copyright licenses. The company needed to either pay the fees like cable and satellite TV companies do or shut down, it said. 

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