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Aereo Update: Firm Seeks ‘Justice’ Assist

WASHINGTON — Aereo executives either have reached out to the Justice Department, or are expected to do so, in hopes it will support the over-the-top video provider at the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a source familiar with the outreach and attorneys familiar with the process.

An Aereo spokesperson declined to confirm or deny making the move, but founder Chet Kanoja suggested it would be standard procedure. If the court rules in favor of Aereo, a subscription-TV service that uses tiny, individual antennas to deliver broadcast stations over the Internet, its technology might serve as a way for cable operators to bypass retransmission payments.

An attorney who has argued before the high court said that the solicitor general routinely meets with both sides before deciding how and whether to weigh in. The lawyer called it “sound legal practice” to try and get the solicitor general to take your side, “and if the SG is going to come down against you, you would want to know it.”

If the solicitor general instead plans to weigh in on the side of broadcasters, he will do so by March 3, which is the deadline for amicus briefs. Briefs in support of Aereo are due April 2.