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Aereo asks court to allow it use of statutory content licenses

updated 07:58 am EDT, Thu July 10, 2014

Joint letter suggests Aereo wants cable company-style licenses following Supreme Court decision

Aereo may have found a way to it to continue offering a service to subscribers with the key lying in the recent Supreme Court decision against the start-up. In a joint letter filed with the US District Court, the company claims that, since the Supreme Court ruled it operated as if it is a cable company, it should be eligible to the same statutory licenses cable companies use.

The courtroom battles between Aereo and broadcasters revolves around content licensing. Aereo claimed that it was providing a "non-public performance" to its users, a key clause of the Copyright Act, due to its use of assigned antennas and user-specific copies of shows recorded from broadcasts, and so should not be liable for the licenses. The Supreme Court believed otherwise, with the company giving all of the appearance of a cable company, despite its background machinations.

Aereo's letter states that, while it has represented itself as a company that isn't a cable service, the Supreme Court considers it otherwise, declaring it "substantially similar to," has an "overwhelming likeness" to, and "is for all practical purposes a traditional cable system." By arguing for the use of the same statutory licenses cable companies enjoy, this could allow Aereo to continue its operations, paying a much smaller amount than what the broadcasters would want it to pay, though it is extremely likely to impact the low $8 to $12 monthly subscription.



A blog post from founder and CEO Chet Kanojia states "We remain committed to building great technologies that create real, meaningful alternatives for consumers," as well as linking to the latest filed letter, and thanking the users for their "patience and continued support." Earlier this month, the start-up asked users to complain to lawmakers over the decision.

In the same letter, the broadcasters write about their dismay at Aereo's change in legal tactics. "It is astonishing for Aereo to contend the Supreme Court's decision automatically transformed Aereo into a 'cable system' under Section 111 (of the Copyright Act) given its prior statements to this Court and the Supreme Court." The broadcasters claim that existing court business should play through before Aereo is allowed to make its new Section 111-based argument, as Aereo has "been violating Plaintiffs' exclusive rights to publicly perform their works for over two years, during which time Plaintiffs, as this Court held, have suffered irreparable harm."



By Electronista Staff
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  1. Inkling

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 07-25-06

    Aereo has clever lawyers. They've flipped the argument that their opponents used against them. They turned 'if it walks like a duck' into 'we are a duck.' In the space of just months, they could transform themselves into the equivalent of a nationwide cable company. Virtually every cable provider in the country that offers broadband could suddenly find itself facing substantial competition. Consumers would benefit from much-needed competition and more choices. Take that cable companies! Take that TV stations!

  1. Mike Wuerthele

    Managing Editor

    Joined: 07-19-12

    That would be fantastic, but the Supreme Court proves over and over that they aren't consistent, don't abide by promises that they make, and really really hate companies that they don't understand.

  1. Inkling

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 07-25-06

    EstaNightshift believes there's a single mind at the Supreme Court that can be blasted as inconsistent and not keeping promises. Not so. The Court has nine minds and often divides narrowly. The Aereo decision was decided 6-3, only one vote removed from a closely split 5-4. She's probably right though that the Court's liberals, joined by the moderates, did vote in favor of companies they liked--the liberal television networks--wanting to keep their lucrative cash flow up. But I'm sure they understood quite well that was what they were doing much like Kelo was really about taking homes away from people to fatten up big city tax revenues. Aereo's argument may just be enough that, if this dispute winds it way back to the S.C., to shift the votes of the middle justices, Roberts and Kennedy, in Aereo's favor. It's only fair that, if Aereo must deal with the burden of being a cable company it also reap the advantages. Only the Court's liberals will hang on to their Aereo hostility, eager to keep their sorts of businesses profitable.

  1. elroth

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-05-06

    No, Inkling, 7 justices are actually against Aereo. Scalia said in his dissent "I share the Court's evident feeling that what Aereo is doing (or enabling to be done) to the Networks' copyrighted programming ought not to be allowed." But he didn't like the majority's reasoning, and felt that Aereo may have found a loophole in the law, and it should be left to Congress to legislate the issue. Your analysis of a liberal plot is nowhere near reality.

  1. Mike Wuerthele

    Managing Editor

    Joined: 07-19-12

    Originally Posted by InklingView Post

    EstaNightshift believes there's a single mind at the Supreme Court that can be blasted as inconsistent and not keeping promises. Not so. The Court has nine minds and often divides narrowly. The Aereo decision was decided 6-3, only one vote removed from a closely split 5-4.



    Yeah, and its one vote from 7-2. Your one vote split argument making defeat closer makes little sense.

    He's probably right though that the Court's liberals, joined by the moderates, did vote in favor of companies they liked--the liberal television networks--wanting to keep their lucrative cash flow up. But I'm sure they understood quite well that was what they were doing much like Kelo was really about taking homes away from people to fatten up big city tax revenues.

    So, when can we get HBO over the air? How much does Roku pay for licensing content?

    Both of these questions were asked by the judges. Sound like they knew what they were talking about?

    Aereo's argument may just be enough that, if this dispute winds it way back to the S.C., to shift the votes of the middle justices, Roberts and Kennedy, in Aereo's favor. It's only fair that, if Aereo must deal with the burden of being a cable company it also reap the advantages. Only the Court's liberals will hang on to their Aereo hostility, eager to keep their sorts of businesses profitable.

    I'm pretty sure Aereo is going to lose again, even with their new argument for the same reason I spelled out before. The SC as a whole doesn't understand the technology. This isn't liberal versus conservative. This is know-nothings keeping the status quo.

    I wrote this. This spells out how I feel about this, and the thoughts are echoed by most of the tech press.

    Editorial: The US judicial system versus modern technology | Electronista

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