Aereo Deploys a New Legal Defense to Try and Resurrect Itself

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Aereo, the video streaming service that appeared to be killed off by the Supreme Court in late June, is attempting a comeback. Aereo allowed users to stream live broadcast television to their mobile devices for a small monthly fee. The Supreme Court ruled Aereo was violating federal copyright law because they were retransmitting copyrighted programming without paying the applicable fees. After the Supreme Court ruling, Aereo even suspended their service and refunded customer money. Now, a new court filing shows Aereo's first attempt to rebuild.

In a letter sent to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, Aereo argues the ruling actually classifies them as a different kind of company:

Under the Second Circuit’s precedents, Aereo was a provider of technology and equipment with respect to the near-live transmissions at issue in the preliminary injunction appeal. After the Supreme Court’s decision, Aereo is a cable system with respect to those transmissions."

According to this new brief, if Aereo is recognized as a cable system, it becomes eligible for a statutory license "and its transmissions may not be enjoined (preliminarily or otherwise)." Aereo believes their reclassification will allow them to work out a deal with the cable companies to whom they did not previously pay fees. Aereo is pushing for a quick decision, arguing the compulsory license "must be decided on an immediate basis or [its] survival as a company will be in jeopardy."

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Now, the District Court has an important decision to make. As Deadline argues,

At issue is whether the District Court will lift a stay that allowed Aereo to remain in business while the case made its way to the Supreme Court. Broadcasters want it lifted so they can collect damages from Aereo’s infringement of their copyrights — a two-year period during which they say they “suffered irreparable harm.” Aereo wants the stay to remain in place since the Supreme Court decision could “eliminate the need to litigate.” It also says that the ruling “did nothing to prohibit” its DVR-like program recording and playback service.

Even if this court agrees with Aereo's filing, the FCC will have a say as well. The FCC determines if Aereo can become a cable operator, which would allow it to qualify for the compulsory license. The U.S. Copyright Office would also have to be involved. Either way, Aereo is not giving up the fight.

You can read the complete filing here:

Aereo Letter


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.