Feeds

Presto! After Supreme Court loss, Aereo says it's a cable company now

TV-streaming firm strikes back with 'Plan B' legal defense

Security for virtualized datacentres

After months of claiming it had "no Plan B" if it lost its case before the US Supreme Court, TV-streaming outfit Aereo has told a judge that it wants to remain in business – as a cable operator.

In a four-page letter to US District Judge Alison Nathan, first revealed by the Hollywood Reporter, Aereo's attorneys make the case for a brand new legal defense under Section 111 of the Copyright Act, which governs how cable companies pay licensing fees for retransmissions of copyrighted works.

According to the letter, that section of the law applies to Aereo because the Supreme Court, in its ruling against the company, found that its practices were "highly similar" to those of cable companies.

"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," the letter argues. "After the Supreme Court's decision, Aereo is a cable system with respect to those transmissions."

Should the court agree with Aereo's rather extraordinary claim, the company would be entitled under Section 111 to a compulsory license to rebroadcast the TV programs it captures on its servers, provided it pays standard, semiannual royalty fees (like cable companies do).

It's a Hail Mary play for the streaming-media firm, which, despite being backed by media mogul Barry Diller, looks to be all but doomed following the Supreme Court's ruling that its service violates copyright law.

"Aereo's eligibility for a Section 111 compulsory license must be decided on an immediate basis or Aereo's survival as a company will be in jeopardy," the letter goes on to state.

While that's probably true, however, Aereo's argument will be a tough sell to the court. According to a letter from lawyers representing major TV networks, which was filed jointly with Aereo's letter, this new defense represents such a complete about-face that it should be dismissed outright.

"[Aereo] represented to this Court, for example, that it could not qualify as 'a cable system' and, therefore, that cases interpreting the application of Section 111 to Internet retransmission services were 'irrelevant to the issues here'," the plaintiffs' letter recounts. "Before the Supreme Court, Aereo again represented that, as a factual matter, it did not satisfy the basic definitions that govern Section 111 eligibility."

Calling Aereo's change of tactics "astonishing," the broadcasters reiterate their request for an injunction banning the firm from retransmitting their broadcasts, saying that final resolution of the lawsuit "has been rendered nearly impossible by Aereo's refusal to clearly specify whether, when and in what fashion it intends to continue operating."

They seem to have a point. Elsewhere in its letter, Aereo claims that even if the court rejects its claim to Section 111, any injunction against Aereo must be limited to simultaneous rebroadcasting of TV programs, and that Aereo should be allowed to continue to operate if it only streams programs at a later time. So, while Aereo the streaming service may be finished (for now), Aereo the litigant looks poised to continue for some time to come. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.