Copyright Office Rebuffs Aereo Cable Play
The Copyright Office has shot down Aereo's attempt to recast itself as a cable system that may retransmit broadcast signals to paying online subscribers with the benefit of the cable compulsory license.
"[T]he Office does not believe Aereo qualifies for the Section 111 statutory license and will not process Aereo's filings at this time," says Copyright Office General Counsel Jacqueline Charlesworth in a July 16 letter to Aereo.
However, because the copyright status of Aereo is still being litigated, the letter says that the Copyright Office will accept the Aereo filings on a "provisional basis" and withhold final judgment on processing them.
After the Supreme Court last month ruled that Aereo was subject to copyright liability, the online service said that it would move ahead as a "cable system" with the compulsory license that conventional cable systems use to cover their copyright liability.
So, like other cable systems, it filed reports on is subscribership along with associated royalty and filings fees amounting to $5,310.74.
But the Copyright Office letter says it isn't interested in cashing the Aereo check. "In the view of the Copyright Office, Internet retransmission of broadcast television fall outside the scope of Section 111 license."
In its Aereo ruling, the Supreme Court said that Aereo was "highly similar" to a cable system. But the Copyright Office says it did not "see anything" in the ruling that would cause it to alter its longstanding opposition to extending the license to online distributors.