Copyright Office Unplugs Aereo’s Cable Claim
Denies attempt at legal redefinition
July 17, 2014
—The U.S. Copyright Office has refused Aereo’s claim that it’s
now a cable company and therefore eligible to pay retransmission fees.
“In the view of the Copyright Office, Internet retransmissions of broadcast
television fall outside the scope of the Sec.
which defines the “
on exclusive rights [for] secondary transmissions of broadcast programming by
Aereo took the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling that its resemblance to a cable
company meant that it was a cable
company for legal purposes. Last week, the company filed comments with the U.S District
Court for the Southern District of New York imploring Judge Allison Nathan to
find that it had the same status as a cable operator to avoid being shut down
by an injunction as the higher court directed. ( See “) McAdams
On: Aereo’s Hail Mary”
Jacqueline C. Charlesworth, general counsel and associate register of
copyrights, wrote in a letter to Aereo’s Matthew Calabro that Aereo does not
meet the definition of a cable operator as set forth in Sec. 111 of the
Communications Act because it’s not regulated by the Federal Communications
“Sec. 111 is meant to encompass
‘localized retransmission services’ that are ‘regulated as cable systems by the
FCC,’” Charlesworth said.
Aereo had sent the Copyright Office 14 account statements covering reporting
periods from Jan. 1, 2012 through Dec. 31, 2013, along with $5,310.74 in filing
fees. Charlesworth said that since the issue remains before Judge Nathan, the
Copyright Office would accept Aereo’s filings on a provisional basis for
further review “depending on regulatory or judicial developments.”
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