updated 02:35 pm EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Declaration by US Copyright Office hampers Aereo reboot
Aereo's attempt to resurrect its cloud-based DVR service has hit a snag, this time with the US Copyright Office. After a Supreme Court ruling declared Aereo to be too similar to a cable company to escape paying licensing fees to broadcasters, the start-up offered to pay the same fees as cable companies, though the US Copyright Office goes against the court's thinking, claiming it falls short of being a cable operator.
In a letter released on Wednesday, the US Copyright Office advised it would not process a request for such a license, reports CNBC, as Aereo's Internet retransmissions of broadcast material "fall outside the scope of the Section 111 license." While this is bad news for Aereo, there is still some hope, as the US Copyright Office said it will accept the filings "provisionally" as the case is still being debated by the courts.
Aereo embraced the Supreme Court's ruling that it did not differ from a cable company, as paying the statutory licenses for content as a cable company is far cheaper than the prospect of negotiating with individual broadcasters. Last week, the company filed a joint letter with the US District Court over the matter, pointing out its "overwhelming likeness" to a cable service, all in order to argue the case for the statutory licenses.
Broadcasters wrote in the same letter that they were "astonished" Aereo changed its legal tactic of claiming it wasn't a cable service, all in order to avoid fees. According to the letter, 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."
Aereo declined to comment to the report over the ruling, but did note the provisional acceptance.