Federal court enjoins Aereo's live TV operations but leaves open cloud-DVR option

As expected, a federal judge has placed an injunction on Aereo's ability to stream the live broadcasts of major U.S. networks to IP devices. However, the court left open the possibility that Aereo could carry on, by delivering delayed broadcast feeds to subscribers as a kind of virtual DVR service.

Judge Alison Nathan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern New York region denied Aereo's request to be considered a cable company, able to obtain statutory broadcast retransmission licenses--this was the "okay-we'll-pay-for-it" stance Aereo adopted after the Supreme Court ruled its business of simply swiping broadcasts from the air to be unlawful in June.

"Stated simply," Nathan wrote in her 17-page ruling, "while all cable systems may perform publicly, not all entities that perform publicly are necessarily cable systems, and nothing in the Supreme Court's opinion indicates otherwise."

Ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, the major broadcasters, Nathan restricted Aereo from "streaming, transmitting, retransmitting, or otherwise publicly performing any copyrighted program over the Internet (through websites such as aereo.com), or by means of any device or process throughout the United States of America, while the copyrighted programming is still being broadcast."

She left open the possibility that Aereo could continue on by delivering recorded broadcast signals, with what the company suggested might be "a modest delay, such as 10 minutes."

Nathan said she'd rule on that matter in the future. "And there may be both factual and legal nuances unique to fully time-shifted retransmission that have not been fleshed out that may influence this court's application of the Supreme Court's holding to what is essentially the remote DVR aspect of Aereo's operations," she wrote.

For more:
- read this U.S. District Court ruling
- read this GigaOm report
- read this Deadline Hollywood story

Related links:
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