After Supreme Court loss, Aereo as we know it may still have five months left

Screen shot from retransmission of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC
Screen shot from retransmission of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC



Aereo does not have to shut down immediately following the US Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that the television streaming service violated the copyrights of broadcasters. Instead the firm faces additional legal proceedings in federal courts and it could be as much as five months before it faces an outright order to close or alter its service, said Harry Cole, an attorney who specializes in broadcast media cases.

If typical court timelines hold, Aereo will receive an order to halt its service within three to five months.

“But Aereo’s got to realize the end of the road is very, very near, so they may not wait,” said Cole, a lawyer at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth in the Washington DC area.

The firm issued a statement that was, in part, defiant, but also did not answer the question hanging over it after the the court ruling Wednesday: whether Aereo will even be in business much longer.

“We are disappointed in the outcome, but our work is not done,” said Aereo chief executive Chet Kanojia. “We will continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world.”

The company does have options. It could seek to operate legally by paying broadcasters to retransmit their programming—the model used by cable companies; or it could license its technology to other online sites that stream video.

Aereo could also lobby Congress to change US copyright law to make its service legal, though Cole said there’s a slim chance the firm could get enough support for that.

Aereo offers its streaming service in 11 US cities, including Boston. It has not disclosed subscriber numbers. It has raised nearly $100 million in funding; backers include Highland Capital Partners, a venture firm in Cambridge.

The company is based in New York but most of its employees, about 80, work in Boston. Kanojia himself lives in Newton.

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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