Trying to Turn Lemons into Lemonade: Aereo Fails to Redefine Itself as a Cable System

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 9.14.40 AMBy Sam Hampton

This month, the streaming television service provider Aereo suffered a second major legal defeat. The first came last spring, when the Supreme Court held that the live streaming of television content over the Internet, Aereo’s core business model, violated the Copyright Act. (We previously covered that case here and here.) Now a federal district court has granted the broadcasters relief in that case: a nationwide preliminary injunction against Aereo’s live streaming of content. Does this pair of decisions effectively spell the end of the company? Or can Aereo redefine its business model and live on?

Aero operated by establishing a system of small antennas that capture broadcast television. A subscriber to the company would pay for the use of such an antenna, which would transmit the signal over the Internet to a device for viewing. The content streamed by Aereo was only slightly delayed, allowing for the near simultaneous viewing of live television broadcasts. Aereo did not pay fees to the broadcasters, and from its inception was the object of their ire. Aereo was initially successful in court battles, but the company’s luck ran out at the Supreme Court. Continue reading