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Copyright Office Refuses to Process Aereo’s License Application

23 Jul, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Copyright Office reports it won’t process Aereo’s application for a compulsory license to broadcast TV shows.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the company infringed copyright by publicly performing television shows earlier this summer, Aereo began an effort to be considered a cable system so it could continue operations. One key step in that direction is to get a license.

But Jacqueline Charlesworth, associate register of copyrights, wrote last week in a letter to Aereo, “In the view of the Copyright Office, Internet retransmissions of broadcast television fall outside the scope of the ... license. The Office does not believe that Aereo qualifies for the ... statutory license.”

Charlesworth added that the Copyright Office has accepted Aereo’s application “on a provisional basis,” but won’t move forward with it at this time. “Upon further regulatory or judicial developments, and/or based upon the Office’s own further review of the issue, the Office may subsequently determine that it is appropriate to take definitive action,” she wrote.

Aereo hasn’t commented on the ruling, but insiders say Aereo has hurdles to gain approval for compulsory licenses, as opposed to having to negotiate much more expensive retransmission fees with individual broadcasters.

Richard Doherty of tech research and consulting firm The Envisioneering Group, told USA Today, “How well Aereo crafts – and succeeds – in wording their application and acceptance will likely serve as a vanguard to untold numbers of new media distribution companies seeking to follow their lead.”

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