Aereo is putting up a valiant effort, but they’ve been dealt another major blow in their fight to stay alive. The US Copyright Office has ruled that Aereo cannot be deemed a cable company under the terms of the Copyright Act. This comes after a Supreme Court ruling which effectively dug Aereo’s hole for them.
The Supreme Court case ruled that Aereo was effectively rebroadcasting TV shows without a licensing agreement. Aereo’s argument to that was their service was little more than cloud storage, and that consumers were simply renting space. The Supreme Court disagreed with that assertion 6-3.
Aereo has already suspended operations while they try to find a new path forward. A letter from the Copyright Office, sent To Aereo and obtained by CNBC, says (in part) “In the view of the Copyright Office, internet retransmissions of broadcast television fall outside the scope of the Section 111 license”.
Section 111 is the crux of the Supreme Court’s ruling against Aereo, meaning the Copyright Office is essentially agreeing with the prior ruling. Section 111 governs “a compulsory licensing system under which cable systems may make secondary transmissions of copyrighted works. The license prescribes various conditions under which cable systems may obtain a compulsory license to retransmit copyrighted works, including the filing of statements of account forms.”
The Copyright Office has said they won’t rule Aereo’s filings out en masse, but will instead accept each filing provisionally. Aereo hasn’t yet commented on the matter, but when the Supreme Court and governing body both agree you’re in violation of a major cornerstone of how legacy TV operates — it’s not good.