Aereo temporarily halts operations

Over-the-air streaming provider Aereo halted its operations Saturday morning in a move that founder and CEO Chet Kanojia said is only temporary.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled against Aereo in a case brought by several broadcasters, including ABC. The high court cited the 1976 Copyright Act in determining that Aereo violated broadcast copyrights by streaming signals from its antenna-DVR cloud facilities to subscribers who rent the equipment for $8 to $12 per month.

"As a result of that decision, our case has been returned to the lower Court. We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps," Kanojia said in a letter emailed to its subscribers Saturday morning and posted on the provider's website. "You will be able to access your cloud-based antenna and DVR only until 11:30 a.m. ET today. All of our users will be refunded their last paid month."

A request for further comment had not been returned to FierceOnlineVideo by press time, but a spokesperson for Aereo said in an email to media that the company is not shutting down, and that the pause in operations is temporary.

Kanojia in the letter thanked subscribers for their support. "Keep your voices loud and sign up for updates at journey is far from done," he concluded.

Aereo's next steps are truly up in the air at this point. Kanojia has insisted for months that there is no "plan B" for the company, and some analysts and pundits have said the company would go out of business if the Supreme Court decision went against it.

Could Aereo sell off its technology? David Wittenstein, a partner in the Technology Transactions group at Cooley LLP, which specializes in IP law, told FierceOnlineVideo that was unlikely. "I think the technology had more value before the court concluded it was a public performance," he said.

Paying license fees to retransmit broadcasters' signal may also not work for the SVOD provider, he said. "I don't think it's a practical option for Aereo. What Aereo wants to carry is broadcast programming. … I don't think there's a clear licensing path today to do that."

For more:
- see Aereo's letter

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