TV Titans Slam Diller's Aereo With Lawsuit

by , Mar 2, 2012, 12:02 PM
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Well, that didn’t last long. Just two weeks after relaunching as Aereo (dropping its old name, Bamboom), a startup that claims to legally stream video from local New York TV stations is being sued by, well, everyone.

“Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Television, Univision, PBS, and two local New York TV stations filed suit against Aereo in a New York district court, charging the startup with copyright violations due to unauthorized rebroadcast and reproductions, as well as unfair competition,” reports.

A second suit was later filed by ABC, Disney, CBS, NBCUniversal, Universal Network Television, and Telemundo -- charging Aereo with one count of copyright infringement.

It was only two weeks ago that backer Barry Diller announced the relaunch of Aereo as a cloud-based TV service that can stream over-the-air channels for $12 a month.

As paidContent recently explained, however, the broadcasters were unlikely to let Aereo alone after devoting years to securing lucrative carriage fees from cable companies to reproduce their channels.

Aereo, however, is standing fast. "Aereo does not believe that the broadcasters' position has any merit, and it very much looks forward to a full and fair airing of the issues," the company said in a statement. According to AllThingsD, Aereo expected these copyright challenges, which is partly why it recently raised a sizable $20.5 million series A round led by Barry Diller’s IAC.

“Barry Diller loves to ruffle the feathers of old media, and there’s no way that he was unaware this was coming,” seconds TechCrunch. “According to the startup’s self-description -- ‘Live broadcast TV, meet the Internet. Finally.’ -- there was no way that something like this was going to slide under the noses of the tycoons.” 

Still, the broadcasters say in their suit that digitizing the video and sending it to subscribers is rebroadcasting the video, something that U.S. law prohibits without permission.

"No amount of technological gimmickry by Aereo -- or claims that it is simply providing a set of sophisticated 'rabbit ears' -- changes the fundamental principle of copyright law that those who wish to retransmit Plantiffs' broadcasts may do so only with Plaintiffs' authority," said the suit filed by Fox, PBS and Univision, and cited by the Los Angeles Times.


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