Aereo's bid to be considered a cable system met with a chilly reaction from the U.S. Copyright Office, which says it won't process the company's application for a compulsory license to broadcast
“In the view of the Copyright Office, internet retransmissions of broadcast television fall outside the scope of the ... license,” associate register of
copyrights Jacqueline Charlesworth said Tuesday in a letter to Aereo. “The Office does not believe that Aereo qualifies for the ... statutory license.”
Charlesworth added that
the Copyright Office has accepted Aereo's application “on a provisional basis,” but won't move forward with it at this time. “Upon further regulatory or judicial developments, and/or
based upon the Office's own further review of the issue, the Office may subsequently determine that it is appropriate to take definitive action,” Charlesworth wrote.
Aereo declined to
comment on the move.
Until a few weeks ago, Aereo argued that it wasn't a cable system, but merely provided the equipment that allowed people to stream over-the-air tv to their smartphones
But the company changed its position after the Supreme Court rejected Aereo's stance that it only offered remote digital antennas. Instead, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the
company infringed copyright by publicly performing television shows.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority that Aereo's service resembled the service offered by cable companies,
which must obtain licenses to transmit television shows.
Now Aereo says that Breyer's opinion supports the argument that the company is a “cable system” and entitled to stream
television shows over the Internet, providing that it pays fees to broadcasters.
But courts might not agree with that interpretation. Two years ago, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New
York ruled that ivi TV -- which also streamed television programs over the Internet -- wasn't entitled to a compulsory license.