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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Privacy, Copyright Protections

A woman uses her mobile phone at the plaza of the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, June 25, 2014.
A woman uses her mobile phone at the plaza of the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, June 25, 2014.

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled police may not usually search the cellphones of people they arrest without a search warrant.

The court said Thursday cellphone searches require warrants because they are powerful devices that contain so much information. But the court noted there are some emergency situations in which warrantless searches would be permitted.

The case was brought forward by two men who felt police had violated their Fourth Amendment Constitutional right that bars "unreasonable searches."

The Supreme Court also ruled online TV company Aereo is violating copyright law by retransmitting copyrighted programming owned by broadcast networks without paying for it.

The company owns thousands antennas in cities across America that capture over-the-air signals, store the content and stream it to Aereo’s customers.

Aereo charges $8 or $12 a month for the service, and it argued this is legal in the same way that cloud services use the Internet to bring copyrighted data to consumers. The American Broadcasting Companies argued it is acting like a cable company, which has to pay for content use.

The 6-3 court ruling in favor of American Broadcasting Companies protects an estimated $3 billion in fees that broadcasters get from cable and satellite TV systems to retransmit their content. It also made clear the ruling would not apply to cloud-based content services from companies such as Google, Microsoft and DropBox.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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