After its Supreme Court loss, Aereo said it was going to pause its streaming television operations, not halt them. Today we got a look at the streaming television service’s next gambit: The company now says it is a cable provider, and as such is eligible to pay statutory licensing fees to resume live streaming operations, while running its time-shifted video recording service more or less as it had been.
In other words, as long as the company pays up what the statutes require, there’s nothing the broadcasters can do to stop Aereo — and it won’t have to pay fees unless its customers are watching live.
Previously, Aereo charged customers about $8 a month and offered them both live and recorded broadcast television through a web or app interface without the need for local antennas, instead recording shows remotely with centralized antenna/DVR arrays.
Not surprisingly, the broadcasters don’t agree, firing back:
Since the Supreme Court’s decision, Aereo and its principals have issued shifting and inconsistent positions. For example, in virtually the same breath, they stated that Aereo would “continue to fight” the broadcasters but also indciated that Aereo’s entire business was “over now.” Aereo suspended all operations and services nationwide on June 29, but told Plaintiffs that suspension might only be temporary.
On July 1, however, its counsel suggested that Aereo has rethought its entire legal strategy and will raise before this Court a brand new defense based on Section 111 of the Copyright Act.
The end result: Broadcasters want an injunction, while Aereo says it should be continued to allow to operate while it pays fees for livestreaming, even as its DVR service (where you watch the show after recording) continues to operate almost exactly as it had before.
If the Court sides with Aereo, that could give the company a fighting chance: It will have to pay more than it would like for all the streaming content, but that Scandal marathon you watch the next day will just cost them what it takes to record it (though not free).
Kyle’s done two good looks at the financial and legal life of Aereo post-Supreme Court loss, but this strategy seems like an interesting gambit that could put it a little behind where it wanted to be, but far from crushed by fees.
Both Aereo’s and the Plaintiff’s filings are below, as originally posted on Aereo’s blog: