SAN FRANCISCO – Aereo Inc., the streaming video startup that halted service after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it violated broadcasters’ copyrights, said it believes it can still operate like a cable TV service after the decision.
Aereo said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan in Manhattan that, according to its interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling, it’s entitled to license programming and its transmissions won’t infringe broadcasters’ rights.
“Although Aereo has temporarily suspended operations, Aereo believes that it can still operate in accordance with the terms of the Supreme Court’s decision and intends to do so,” the company said in the letter.
The court ruled Aereo violated broadcasters’ copyrights by selling programming online without paying licensing fees. Broadcasters said Aereo, which is backed by billionaire media mogul Barry Diller, threatened to create a blueprint that would let cable and satellite providers stop paying billions of dollars in retransmission fees each year to carry local programming. Nathan is considering what to require in an order enforcing the top court’s June 25 decision.
Aereo, based in Long Island City, N.Y., set out to give customers who didn’t want to pay for cable-TV bundles another way to watch broadcast television. The startup’s service, costing as little as $8-a-month for customers in 11 cities, recorded programming from an off-site antenna and delivered it via the Internet. It said June 28 that it would halt service.
CBS Corp. said in the same letter to the judge on Wednesday that, in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Aereo’s legal bid to reinstate its service should be dismissed. The letter was a joint statement of the dispute by Aereo and the broadcasters.
A Supreme Court victory for Aereo might have endangered revenue collected by broadcasters. The startup didn’t pay licensing fees for the over-the-air programming it collected, potentially giving other cable providers a way to avoid such payments.