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The U.S. Supreme Court is seen Wednesday, June 20, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Supreme Court: Police Can't Seize Cell Phones, Aereo Can't Seize TV Signals



(AP) The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a startup Internet company has to pay broadcasters when it takes television programs from the airwaves and allows subscribers to watch them on smartphones and other portable devices.

They also weighed in on cell phone seizures, saying police may not generally search the cellphones of people they arrest without first getting search warrants.

The justices say cellphones are powerful devices unlike anything else police may find on someone they arrest.

Chief Justice John Roberts says that because the phones contain so much information, police must get a warrant before looking through them.

 
The justices said by a 6-3 vote that Aereo Inc. is violating the broadcasters' copyrights by taking the signals for free. The ruling preserves the ability of the television networks to collect huge fees from cable and satellite systems that transmit their programming.

Aereo is available in New York, Boston and Atlanta among 11 metropolitan areas and uses thousands of dime-size antennas to capture television signals and transmit them to subscribers who pay as little as $8 a month for the service.

Some justices worried during arguments in April that a ruling for the broadcasters could also harm the burgeoning world of cloud computing, which gives users access to a vast online computer network that stores and processes information.

But Justice Stephen Breyer in his majority opinion that the court did not intend to call cloud computing into question.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Broadcasters including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS sued Aereo for copyright infringement, saying Aereo should pay for redistributing the programming the same way cable and satellite systems must or risk high-profile blackouts of channels that anger their subscribers.

The Supreme Court says a lawsuit can proceed against Fifth Third Bancorp that accused management of irresponsibly investing employee retirement money in the bank's then-failing stock.

The unanimous ruling came Wednesday in a case involving a retirement fund that's invested primarily in the bank's stock.

Here's the issue: Do those in charge of investing in the fund have the freedom or the duty to direct investment money elsewhere when they have reason to believe the stock price is inflated.

The employees say management knew that borrowers were increasingly defaulting on risky, subprime loans, but concealed that information or misled investors.

The bank continued to invest in the stock-ownership fund even when the problems came to light and the share price plummeted.


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