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Aereo laying off most of its employees, closing Boston office

Aereo laying off most of its employees, closing Boston office
Chet Kanojia, chief executive of Aereo, leaves the U.S. Supreme Court on April 22. (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

Tech start-up Aereo Inc., which distributed broadcast TV signals online until the Supreme Court ruled that it was breaking copyright law, announced Thursday that it was laying off most of its workforce and shutting its Boston office.

"We are continuing to conserve resources while we chart our path forward," Aereo executive Virginia Lam said in a statement. "This was a difficult but necessary step in order to preserve the company."

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In a notice to government officials, the New York company said Thursday that 43 of its Boston employees would be laid off by next week, with the rest staying to shut down the office. Some New York employees are being laid off as well.

The layoffs total about 60. Only a small team of executives is expected to remain.

The Supreme Court's June ruling that Aereo's service violated the Copyright Act was a major blow. The company had been streaming local TV stations' signals over the Internet via remote antennas, charging customers $8 to $12 a month for the antenna and a cloud-based digital recorder.

In the case, brought by broadcasters, Aereo argued that it was just an antenna service and therefore didn't have to comply with copyright law. The Supreme Court disagreed, saying the company was more like a cable service, so it was subject to the Copyright Act.

Laura Martin, an analyst with Needham & Co., said Aereo's move Thursday did not surprise her. "I think in the end Aereo will not survive in any form," she told the Los Angeles Times. "Aereo was a flawed concept to begin with because it was illegally stealing copyrighted signal."

For more news, follow @raablauren on Twitter.

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