Aereo shuts down in Denver and Salt Lake City

Internet-based TV service Aereo went dark in Denver and Salt Lake City Saturday, although the company's founder insisted in a letter to subscribers that the cable alternative was down but not out and that he looked forward to presenting his case to the Supreme Court April 22.

The shutdown followed a ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver affirming a preliminary injunction by U.S. Circuit Judge Dale Kimball that said Aereo was in violation of U.S. copyright law because it was retransmitting local TV signals without paying fees to broadcasters. The ruling came in answer to a lawsuit filed by four Utah TV stations and marked a reversal for Aereo, which had beaten a similar suit in Boston.

"We are very sorry for the effect that this decision has on you and we look forward to presenting our case to the U.S. Supreme Court and ultimately restoring your ability to use Aereo," the company's founder and CEO Chet Kanojia wrote to subscribers in an e-mail published by the Salt Lake Tribune.

Aereo issued a full refund for the current month to customers in the two markets and promised to inform them "as soon as we have more information about the future of Aereo in your market."

Aereo's argument, which was dismissed by the courts, is that it uses over-the-air antennas to receive over-the-air signals and thus it is within its rights to redistribute those signals to computers or mobile devices via the Internet. The bone of contention is that the service charges $8 to $12 per month to get those signals.

"Consumers have a fundamental right to watch over-the-air broadcast television via a modern antenna and to record copies for their personal use," Kanojia's e-mail continued. "The Copyright Act provides no justification to curtail that right simply because the consumer is using modern, remotely located equipment."

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- the Salt Lake Tribune carried this story

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