Aereo Fights Broadcasters' Request To Shutter Service In Utah
“The third time should not be a charm,” Aereo argues. “The facts are the same; the result should be the same as well.”
Aereo filed its papers in response to a lawsuit brought earlier this month by CBS and Fox affiliates in Salt Lake City. The broadcasters allege in a complaint filed in federal court that the Barry Diller-backed startup infringes copyright with its streaming service. They are seeking an injunction banning the company from continuing to operate.
Aereo allows paying subscribers to stream over-the-air TV shows to iPhones and other devices. The company lets people “record” shows and watch them later.
The TV broadcasters contend that Aereo is “publicly” performing the shows -- which would infringe copyright.
But Aereo says its service is legal due to its design, which relies on thousands of tiny antennas to capture and over-the-air TV shows. The company streams shows to users on an antenna-to-user basis. Aereo says it has the same legal rights as consumers to capture over-the-air signals. The company also says its streams are “private” -- as opposed to “public performances” -- because each stream comes from a separate antenna.
“A consumer who tunes an individual antenna to access a program, makes an individual copy of a broadcast television program, and then watches that program, does not violate the copyright laws,” Aereo argues in the Utah case. “The entity that provides the device the consumers use to achieve that lawful purpose does not violate the copyright laws either.”
Aereo also has asked to transfer the Utah lawsuit to the Southern District of New York, where U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan is presiding over a similar case. Sending the case to New York would “advance the interests of judicial efficiency” and also “make litigation much more efficient for the parties,” the company says.
Courts in New York and Boston have so far rejected TV broadcasters' request to shut down the service.
But judges in other parts of the country have sided with TV broadcasters in similar lawsuits involving FilmOn X (formerly called Aereokiller). A judge in Washington, D.C. recently prohibited FilmOn X from operating in most of the country. A trial judge in California also issued an order banning FilmOn X from operating in nine western states. FilmOn X has appealed both of those rulings.