The major broadcast networks lost a round in their efforts to shutter the Aereo service on copyright infringement grounds. A federal judge denied their request for a preliminary injunction on
Wednesday, while determining that the Aereo service is “likely lawful.”
Aereo, which has received considerable funding from Barry Diller’s IAC, has launched in the New York market, delivering local stations owned by ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC to mobile devices. All four networks are looking to stop the service in court. Indications are that they plan to continue even after losing the request for an injunction.
Aereo, which picks up over-the-air signals, carries a $12-a-month charge for consumers and allows a user to record programming and watch it later with DVR-like functionality.
The broadcasters are concerned that Aereo could deprive them of carriage fees they receive from cable/satellite/telco TV operators. They also argue that Aereo will lead to lower ratings, giving them less inventory to monetize.
Judge Alison J. Nathan, who denied the preliminary injunction, agreed with both arguments and ruled that the broadcasters could suffer “irreparable harm” from Aereo, but that is not likely to happen as the case moves through the courts.
At a May hearing, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said an injunction would “be the end of the company.”
A statement from Fox said the decision was “a loss for the entire creative community," adding that “it is OK to misappropriate copyrighted material and retransmit it without compensation.”