A federal court rejects Aereo’s request to argue it’s a cable company

August 21

Aereo's seemingly last-ditch argument to save itself won't be given an airing in court, according to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Instead, if the shuttered streaming video company wants to keep fighting for its survival, procedural reasons require that it do so at the district court level, officials said in a document filed Thursday.

The decision is a win for broadcasters, who had sought a ban on Aereo from the beginning. Initially, the district court decided against an injunction. But a ruling from the Supreme Court earlier this summer reversed that decision. Now the appellate court, following procedure, has also followed suit. Aereo declined to comment; a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

How significant is this move? Seeing as Aereo had already voluntarily shut its doors after the Supreme Court verdict, a preliminary injunction doesn't mean much for the company operationally. But the Second Circuit is effectively telling Aereo that if it wants to argue that it's a cable company only for the purposes of copyright law — and therefore qualified to pay lower royalties — it's currently making the argument to the wrong people.

"Technically, Aereo could stick it out for a trial," said John Bergmayer, an attorney at the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. "The case will still be open at the district court. They could still argue there, which they still have the right to do."

Have more to say about this topic? Join us Friday for our weekly live chat, Switchback. We'll kick things off at 11 a.m. Eastern time. The comment box is open, so you can submit questions now.

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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