Appeals Court Rejects Hearst's Request To Fast-Track Aereo Case
In another defeat for TV broadcasters, an appellate court in Boston has rejected Hearst's request to expedite its attempt to shut down Aereo.
The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals didn't give any reason for its decision, issued late last week.
Hearst, which operates the ABC station WCVB in Boston, is suing Aereo for allegedly infringing copyright with its streaming service. Aereo charges subscribers $8 a month to stream over-the-air TV shows to iPhones and other devices.
Broadcasters say the service infringes copyright by publicly performing television programs. But Aereo says its streams are private due to the company's technology, which relies on thousands of antennas to capture and stream shows.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston sided with Aereo and rejected Hearst's request to prohibit the service from operating while the lawsuit is pending. Gorton said in his ruling that Aereo's interpretation of the law “is a better reading” of the copyright statute than the TV broadcasters' interpretation.
Hearst, which is appealing that decision, recently asked the 1st Circuit to expedite the case. “Left undisturbed, that decision will allow Aereo to free ride indefinitely on WCVB’s programming,” Hearst said in its motion to fast-track the case. The company says that Aereo's service is causing “irreparable injury.”
Aereo successfully opposed the request to expedite the appeal. “No exigent circumstances exist here that would justify urgent review,” the company said in court papers filed last Monday.
Separately, Aereo was hit late last week with a second lawsuit in Utah, where it recently rolled out its service. This latest case, filed by Nexstar -- which owns and operates ABC and CW stations in Salt Lake City -- joins a lawsuit brought earlier this month in Utah by affiliates of Fox and CBS. Nexstar, like the other TV companies, is seeking an order prohibiting Aereo from continuing to offer its subscription service.
The legal issues posed by Aereo appear unsettled. The company has been sued in New York, Boston and Utah, but none of the cases have yet gone to trial. So far, judges in New York and Boston have rejected requests to shutter Aereo before trial.
But broadcasters have obtained injunctions against a rival to Aereo, FilmOn X, in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. FilmOn X, which says it uses the same technology as Aereo, is appealing those rulings.