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Aereo files for bankruptcy in complex entertainment industry

Aereo Inc is a company that allows subscribers to view television stations as live streams on their computers and similar devices. Subscribers have to pay for this service, with charges in the $8 to $12 range. However, the company has recently put in a filing for bankruptcy. It is a Chapter 11 filing, and the company either plans to reorganize or sell off the assets that remain.

The problem is that they violated copyright laws, according to a U.S. Supreme Court. This was all part of the established business model. According to the ruling, the company had put up antennas with the goal of pulling in broadcast streams from various sources. Some of these were live, and some were recorded beforehand.

Either way, the company then turned around and sold the captured transmissions back to the people who subscribed to the service. Since these transmissions were the property of their original source companies, copyright violations were being committed, according to the court.

Various companies that were involved were NBC, CBS, ABC, Walt Disney and Twenty-First Century Fox. In some cases, those companies are parent companies of broadcast stations. For example, ABC is owned by Disney.

As far as declared assets, the filing stated that Aereo had $20.5 million, and the company also reported about $4.2 million in debt.

In the entertainment industry, it is very important to pay attention to copyright laws, a line that has grown a bit more hard to see with the emergence of live streaming services. If you feel your rights have been violated in California, make sure that you know what legal options you still have.

Source: Fox Business, "TV streaming service Aereo files for bankruptcy" Reuters, Nov. 21, 2014

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