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Aereo Launches Advocacy Web Site - Broadcasting & Cable

Aereo Launches Advocacy Web Site

Chet Kanojia says site came in response to customer questions about status of service
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In advance of the Supreme Court oral argument in the Aereo case, the online TV station delivery service has launched a web site to emphasize its point that it is just providing remote—Internet—access to an over-the-air antenna, rather than a performance subject to copyright payments.

In a note to its subs, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said that the site was in response to questions from customers about the case. Broadcasters have sued Aereo for copyright infringement and the Supreme Court has agreed to take their challenge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeal's denial of a preliminary injunction against Aereo and its suggestion the company's remote antenna system does not violate copyright.

"On April 22, Aereo will present our case to the United States Supreme Court," Kanojia said in the letter. "We remain steadfast in our conviction that Aereo’s cloud-based antenna and DVR technology falls squarely within the law. We have every hope and confidence that the Court will validate and preserve a consumer's right to access local over-the-air television using an individual antenna, make a personal recording with a DVR, and watch that recording on a device of their choice."

The site will provide "court briefs, amicus briefs and court decisions related to the Supreme Court case," according to the letter. Web surfers can also sign up for periodic updates. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by late June.

In an interview with Katie Couric for Yahoo News this week, Kanojia echoed Aereo investor Barry Diller in saying that if Aereo loses, the company will try to figure something out, but may have to go out of business.

The "figure something out" could be an effort to come up with a technical work-around according to Bernstein Research anaylst Todd Juenger, either by Aereo or someone else.

"If the Court says 'Aereo is patently illegal and must be shut down,' we believe it will only be a matter of months before some new Aereo-like service emerges, with a work-around specifically designed to adhere to the Court's ruling, and the process starts all over again (Although Barry Diller contends Aereo won't pursue that path, saying recently 'if we lose, we're finished')," said Juenger in note to investors. "We suspect he might change his mind if his engineers show him a work-around path."

Also implicated in the case is FilmOn, which also delivers TV station signals online via remote antennas. A court decision on the fate of an injunction against that service, also sought by broadcasters, has been put on hold until the Supreme Court decides the Aereo case.

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