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Aereo's reach for help: A letter to a district court judge

Aereo
Image Credit: Aereo

Two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively killed startup Aereo’s streaming-video service, the startup has reached out to a judge who earlier ruled in its favor.

In the letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, which Aereo published on its blog today, a lawyer working on behalf of the startup mentions that Aereo is taking on no revenue while “continuing to incur enormous costs such as employee salaries, equipment and lease payments, and vendor payments.”

The service, which lets people stream and record video broadcasted on local airwaves, temporarily paused operations days after the Supreme Court ruled Aereo was guilty of copyright infringement.

Now Aereo looks to be engaged in a last-ditch effort to save itself.

“We remain committed to building great technologies that create real, meaningful alternatives for consumers,” the company’s chief executive, Chet Kanojia, wrote in a statement in an email to VentureBeat.

Writing to Judge Nathan on behalf of Aereo, Bruce Keller of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP notes that the company could indeed be considered a cable system, as Supreme Court judges suggested last month. As such, it can get a license in accord with Section 111 of the federal Copyright Act and get protection from an injunction from a court.

But if the Section 111 argument won’t work, Keller writes, an injunction ought to be limited to “simultaneous or near-simultaneous streaming of over-the-air television programs.”

That leaves out “non-simultaneous playback from copies created by consumers,” Keller writes.

Altogether, the letter amounts to consultation with a sympathetic party. Time will tell if this consulting will have any effect on the Supreme Court’s ruling.