Embattled streaming TV service Aereo was dealt a fatal blow Thursday as a US judge barred the service from broadcasting live television streams.
Judge Alison Nathan ruled in favor of the broadcasting companies looking to bar the service from showing their feeds to customers online, issuing a temporary injunction to block the company from showing video to customers while a program is still being broadcast.
The ruling comes following multiple appeals and rehearings of the case, including a stint before the Supreme Court, all of which ended in a ruling against Aereo. The Supreme Court, crucially, ruled that Aereo was a streaming service subject committing copyright violation.
Aereo has argued that it is merely providing its customers with the equipment to view broadcasts at home. The service uses antenna to gather broadcasts which are then stored and streamed to users. The company has voluntarily suspended its broadcasts since June.
The ruling, while devastating to Aereo, could stop short of killing the company altogether. As the order is a preliminary injunction, it is not the final say (that will come should a final injunction be issued). It also only bars the company from streaming the video to users while the program is being broadcast by the networks.
"Aereo cannot limit the scope of the preliminary injunction to anything short of the complete airing of the broadcast despite its contention at oral argument that the Supreme Court intended "near-live retransmission" to mean something less than a ten-minute delay," the judge wrote.
Judge Nathan noted that the order only covers live broadcasts, leaving the door open for possibly showing content on a delay. The judge acknowledged that the company may well indeed also be in violation of copyright law were it to show programs at a later time, but said that in this specific case only the live broadcast of content was being examined. ®