The Hearst-owned ABC affiliate in Boston is the latest broadcaster to sue Aereo, the start up subscription service that offers online streams of stations and has so far survived legal efforts to shut it down.
WCVB-TV filed suit in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts on Tuesday, claiming copyright infringement in that Aereo “intentionally induces and encourages its subscribers to directly infringe WCVB’s copyrights by reproducing programming without authorization.”
Aereo launched its Boston service last month, and has plans to begin in other cities. When it started last year in New York, the networks and other broadcasters sued, but a district and appellate court have rejected efforts to immediately halt the service via a preliminary injunction. The Manhattan litigation is continues, as both sides are seeking summary judgment.
WCVB’s litigation centers on copies that Aereo makes on its server that are then transmitted to subscribers. While Aereo contends that its service is legal, given that each subscriber is assigned a dime-sized antenna, WCVB contends that to make the technology work Aereo has to record three different copies each time a subscriber “chooses to watch or record a program.”
“In these respects, Aereo’s service is wholly unlike a private homeowner’s roof-top or set-top antenna, which only allows reception of WCVB’s programming within the geographical area of WCVB’s ‘over-the-air’ transmissions,” the suit stated. It claims four counts of copyright infringement, including public performance, distribution, reproduction and derivative works, and seeks an injunction to stop the broadcast streams.
A spokeswoman for Aereo said the company had no comment.