Judge Rules Against Aereo, Can No Longer Retransmit Live TV

A New York federal judge has ruled against TV-over-the-Internet startup Aereo and in favor of a group of major broadcasters including Disney’s ABC, CBS Corp., Twenty-First Century Fox, Comcast’s NBC, and PBS. Judge Alison Nathan ordered that Aereo’s “Watch Now” system be shut down. “The Supreme Court has concluded that Aereo performs publicly when it retransmits Plaintiffs’ content live over the Internet and thus infringes Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works,” wrote Judge Nathan in her 17-page opinion yesterday.

Aereo_Array1“In light of this conclusion, Aereo cannot claim harm from its inability to continue infringing Plaintiffs’ copyrights. In addition, in light of the fact that Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits rather than just sufficiently serious questions going to the merits, they need no longer show that the balance of hardships tips decidedly in their favor.”

Aereo lost its case before the Supreme Court this summer by a 6-3 vote. The Court ruled that Aereo’s approach of using tiny antennas to offer over-the-air TV via online was too similar to a cable operation not to be paying copyright royalties.

“But Aereo didn’t give up, and ran with that ruling, arguing it should be allowed to pay the same retransmission rate that cable companies pay by law, which is around one percent of revenue,” reports Ars Technica. “That strategy has already failed once, when a company called Ivi tried it a few years back. The Copyright Office has refused to license Aereo as a cable company until a court rules otherwise.”

Judge Nathan ordered that Aereo be forbidden from “streaming, transmitting, retransmitting, or otherwise publicly performing any Copyrighted Program over the Internet (through websites such as aereo.com), or by means of any device or process throughout the United States of America, while the Copyrighted Programming is still being broadcast.”

While yesterday’s ruling prohibits Aereo from retransmitting any live broadcasting, for the time being its time-shifting DVR feature remains in operation.

NAB has posted Judge Nathan’s opinion online as a PDF.

Additional Coverage:
Aereo Barred from Retransmitting Broadcast TV, CNET, 10/23/14
U.S. Broadcasters Win Preliminary Injunction Against Aereo, Reuters, 10/23/14