Aereo not a 'cable service,' says U.S. Copyright Office

By Daniel S Levine,

Aereo already took a huge blow from the Supreme Court and now the U.S. Copyright Office isn’t doing it any favors. The government agency has said that it does not consider Aereo a “cable service,” even though the company is now arguing that it is.

Earlier this month, Aereo did an about-face after the Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the four big broadcast networks, agreeing that Aereo was violating copyrights by not paying licensing fees.

In the ruling, the Court suggested that Aereo was similar to a traditional cable service. So, Aereo saw a window that might allow it to still exist and argued to a lower court that if it begins paying those licensing fees, it would be just like a cable or satellite provider.

However, according to a letter obtained by CNBC, the Copyright Office disagrees. “In the view of the Copyright Office, internet retransmissions of broadcast television fall outside the scope of the Section 111 license,” the letter reads.

Aereo has “paused” service for the time being and this latest blow makes it clear that it has a steep uphill battle to stay alive. The company had long stated that its service was akin to traditional TV antennae, bringing free over-the-air broadcasts to computers via streaming. However, the fact that it wasn’t paying licensing fees and that it offered a DVR service made it an enemy to ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.

Customers paid as little as $8 a month for the service.



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