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Judge Issues Injunction to Prohibit Aereo’s Live Broadcast Streams

Aereo Judge
Oliver Munday

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that officially prohibits Aereo from offering unauthorized streams of broadcast programming.

The judge’s action is not a surprise given the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of broadcasters in June. But Aereo, which offered digital streams of broadcast programming to subscribers, sought a new legal avenue to continue its service, including qualifying as a cable system entitled to a compulsory license.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, in a ruling issued on Thursday, wrote that while the Supreme Court stated in its opinion that Aereo has similarities to a cable system, the justices did not say that it was, in fact, a cable system.

She wrote that “Aereo’s argument suffers from the fallacy that simply because an entity performs copyrighted works in a way similar to cable systems it must be deemed a cable system for all other purposes of the Copyright Act. The Supreme Court’s opinion … avoided any such holding.”

She also rejected Aereo’s argument that it was entitled to safe harbor protection, and also said that Aereo could not now claim “significant hardship” as she issued the injunction.

Nathan did stop short of issuing an injunction against Aereo that would have prohibited it from retransmitting broadcasts on a time-shifted basis. She wrote that the injunction will be narrower in scope, applying only to the retransmission of works only when they are still being broadcast. She did, however, say that 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.”

Aereo put it operations on pause several days after the Supreme Court ruling.