Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

Southwestern Student Andrew Pletcher Helps Professors File Amicus Brief in Major U.S. Supreme Court Case April 24, 2014
Southwestern Student Andrew Pletcher Helps Professors File Amicus Brief in Major U.S. Supreme Court Case

As part of Southwestern's Amicus Project, third-year day student Andrew Pletcher, under the supervision of Professors Warren Grimes and Michael Epstein, has written an amicus brief that was filed last week with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the respondent in American Broadcasting Company et al v. Aereo.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments for this case, which can affect the way people watch and pay for television shows. Broadcasters are suing Aereo because the tech company offers a subscription model allowing users to pay $8 per month to watch TV broadcasts on their computers, tablets and smartphones. Because this is such a hot-button issue, it has been brought to the nation's highest court in just a few months, extremely quick timing, because broadcasters consider Aereo a threat to their business model.

As featured in the April 20 edition of the Christian Science Monitor, Southwestern's amicus (friend of the court brief) argues that the Aereo innovation "is a healthy free-market response to a dysfunctional and anticompetitive television distribution system."

Pletcher wrote a brief supporting consumers and arguing that broadcasters are unfairly trying to benefit from two government monopolies: copyright and broadcasting. Aereo is a technology that allows consumers to receive antenna signals for broadcast TV that should be freely available to the public.

"Drew deftly argues that Aereo should be supported since it gives broadcasters the deal they originally bargained for - free over the air, advertiser-supported television distribution," Professor Epstein said. "Broadcasters want to benefit from negotiated re-transmission consent with cable companies under the copyright act. Drew carefully argues why legally and historically they are wrong."

Pletcher wrote the brief under the supervision of Professor Grimes. Professor Epstein directed the two of them, and helped Pletcher frame his arguments. (Click here for a PDF of the brief.)

"It is testimony to Drew's exemplary work that several top professors in antitrust law signed on as amici to the brief," Professor Epstein said.

A decision on the case is expected in June.

Southwestern's Media Law Forum presented a showcase of the briefs filed by the Amicus Project, moderated by Professor Michael Epstein, Director of the Amicus Project. Pletcher along with third-year day student Anna Aran (U.S. v. Wurie) and SCALE student Andrew Pruitt (Petrella v. MGM) summarized the cases and the arguments they made in their U.S. Supreme Court briefs. In addition, Professor Robert Lind presented the arguments from the brief filed with the 9th Circuit in Brown v. NCOPM for SCALE student Orly Ravid, the first to file through the Amicus Project Practicum, who was unable to attend. Click here to watch a video of the event.