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Aereo takes a time-out after Supreme Court loss

The TV-over-the-Internet service suspends operations and offers refunds

Published: June 30, 2014 09:30 AM

Aereo shut down this weekend while it considers its next move.

Following its loss in the Supreme Court last week, Aereo—which streamed over-the-air broadcasts to subscribers paying $8 per month—suspended its service this weekend while it figures out its next move.

In an e-mail sent to current and former subscribers, the Aereo founder Chet Kanojia said that as a result of that decision, Aereo's 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 wrote. "All of our users will be refunded their last paid month."

As of Saturday morning, Aereo users no longer were able to stream local TV stations' signals through the company's cloud-based antenna and DVR services.

Aereo had hoped that because its service—which assigned one of thousands of dime-size antennas, stored in the company's warehouses, to each of its subscribers—had found a legal loophole in the copyright law. Since each subscriber who logged in was assigned an antenna, Aereo argued that it was a private, rather than a public, performance, and thus exempt from the requirement that it had to pay broadcasters a retransmission fee or face copyright infringement claims.

The court sided with the broadcasters, though some—including three of the Supreme Court justices—said they believed the company acted legally within the definition of the current law, and that Congress, not the courts, should find a remedy.

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In the statement, Kanojia reiterated the company's stance that it was really just providing an antenna-rental service. "The spectrum that the broadcasters use to transmit over the air programming belongs to the American public, and we believe you should have a right to access that live programming whether your antenna sits on the roof of your home, on top of your television or in the cloud," he wrote.

While its primary investor, the media mogul Barry Diller, has acknowledged there's no "plan B" following the court ruling, Kanojia still doesn't seem quite ready to throw in the towel. In his final paragraph in Saturday's statement, he thanked Aereo's supporters but added, "Our journey is far from done."

If you're an Aereo subscriber and have questions about your account or the refund, you can e-mail or tweet the company @AereoSupport to get more information.

—James K. Willcox

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