U.S. Copyright Office Suggests Aereo is Not a Cable Company

In a 6-3 decision last month, the Supreme Court ruled that Aereo was in violation of copyright law by using tiny antennas to stream broadcast TV online to subscribers. Since the court said that Aereo acted too much like a cable company to broadcast without paying fees, the startup attempted to embrace the ruling by offering to pay retransmission fees. Whether or not the new approach will work with the networks (or in court), the U.S. Copyright Office is now siding with the content owners.

Aereo_Array1Under the terms of current copyright law, U.S. copyright officials do not consider Aereo to be a cable company.

“In the view of the Copyright Office, Internet retransmissions of broadcast television fall outside the scope of the Section 111 license,” wrote the Copyright Office in a letter yesterday.

“Earlier this month, Aereo told a lower court handling its case that it would seek to be treated as a cable company and obtain the same compulsory license cable operators enjoy,” reports CNBC. “That would give it the right, in exchange for set fees, to keep streaming content. But copyright authorities dismissed that argument.”

“The office added that it would not refuse Aereo’s filings outright, but rather would accept them provisionally since the company’s case is still before the courts.”

According to Ars Technica: “It’s no surprise that the U.S. Copyright Office, which tends to see things along the same lines as the content industry, would choose not to side with Aereo. Without a ruling from a federal judge that it can pay the retransmission fees, Aereo’s new plan is going nowhere. And broadcasters will no doubt fight Aereo tooth and nail.”