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Broadcasters Challenge Aereokiller in D.C.

Broadcast networks filed suit on Thursday to halt a company from offering streams of their signals in the Washington D.C. market, in the latest effort to challenge the legality of a bevy of services seeking to provide over-the-air television on the Internet.

Fox, NBC, ABC and Allbritton Communications filed a claim in U.S. District Court in Washington against Aereokiller, the provocatively named company founded by FilmOn’s Alki David. The name comes from Aereo, the startup financed by Barry Diller that has so far prevailed in court against broadcasters’ efforts to halt its streaming service in the New York market. It does so via a remote system of dime-sized antennas, their signals beamed to each assigned subscriber.

Aereokiller, too, uses tiny antennas, according to David, but it faced a different fate in the Los Angeles market. When the networks challenged the legality of Aereokiller in L.A., a federal court ruled in favor of the broadcasters, prohibiting the company from stealing their signals in the western states of the Ninth Circuit. That put the decision in conflict with that of the New York federal courts, raising the prospect that the case will eventually end up in the Supreme Court.

The broadcast networks are anxious to limit the expansion plans of Aereo and Aereokiller, challenging them in other jurisdictions. “Our complaint filed today in the federal district court for the District of Columbia underscores our commitment to vigorously protect our copyrighted programming from illegal appropriation by opportunistic pirates,” they said in a joint statement.

Having expanded into Dallas, Miami and other cities as well, David has insisted that Aereokiller’s streaming is legal, and is appealing in the Ninth Circuit in California.

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