Aereo is aiming to reinvent itself as a cable company

July 10, 2014, 4:49 PM UTC
A computer screen displays, a web service that provides television shows online.
Andrew Burton–Getty Images

Aereo’s not dead, yet.

After the Supreme Court found the cloud-based live streaming service illegal, Aereo paused its service. And it looked like it was out of options.

But, Aereo came back Wednesday with a letter filed to a New York district court saying that it now considers itself a cable provider, pointing to the language used in the Supreme Court ruling.

In its decision, the U.S.’s highest court said Aereo is “substantially similar to” and “is for all practical purposes a traditional cable system.”

As a cable provider, Aereo is then entitled to the standard copyright protections given to all cable companies that pay royalty fees, as long as it can secure a license.

Therefore, the company says, it should not have to stop its live streaming service, which it has only done as a courtesy since no injunction was put in place, according to the court letter.

By identifying as a cable provider — and not a provider of technology equipment as the lower courts had ruled — Aereo is trying to use the Supreme Court decision to its advantage.

CEO Chet Kanojia, who has been rallying popular support through a petition to lawmakers on, addressed Aereo supporters on the company’s blog Wednesday after submitting the court letter.

“With this most recent decision and in the spirit of remaining in compliance,” Kanojia wrote. “We chose to pause our operations last week as we consulted with the lower court to map out our next steps.”

The plaintiffs, led by ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, believe Aereo’s appeal has no merit because of the company’s past statements that denied it was a cable provider.

Even if the New York court doesn’t go along with the cable-provider definition for Aereo, any injunction could be limited since the Supreme Court said “Aereo only publicly performs when its technology allows near simultaneous transmission.”

That could open the door for Aereo to re-configure its service to allow users to playback television shows after the initial broadcast.