Copyright Office Deals Blow to Aereo’s Plans

Jul 18, 2014  •  Post A Comment

Aereo’s future is looking grimmer than ever following a ruling by the U.S. Copyright Office. The Washington Post reports that the office ruled that Aereo is not a cable company.

The ruling is another setback for the company, which lost a Supreme Court battle with broadcasters over copyright infringement and then tried to argue that it should be treated like a cable company under copyright law, the story notes.

“That argument would've kept Aereo on safe legal ground while still allowing it to avoid paying hefty content fees to the broadcast industry. Instead, Aereo would've paid government-regulated royalty fees to the Copyright Office,” The Post reports.

But the Copyright Office said in a letter to Aereo that “Internet retransmissions of broadcast content” aren’t covered by the type of licensing system that Aereo wants to use.

"Section 111 [the part of the Copyright Act that concerns so-called 'compulsory licensing'] is meant to encompass 'localized retransmission services' that are 'regulated as cable systems by the FCC,'" the letter said.

The story adds: “In plain English, the Copyright Office is effectively tossing the hot potato to the Federal Communications Commission. This is potentially very bad for Aereo: If the FCC rules that Aereo is a cable company in the eyes of communications law, then it would likely be forced to pay the broadcasters directly and undermine the company's core business model. And it's a nudge in favor of the broadcasters.”

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