Aereo Warns Utah Judge That Halting Service Will Cause It ‘Grave’ Harm

Aereo is warning of “grave” harm to its operations as it appeals a federal court’s order that it shut down its Salt Lake City and Denver, a move that offered broadcasters a significant victory as it tries to halt the unauthorized digital streaming of station signals.

In a series of legal maneuvers late on Wednesday and early on Thursday, Aereo asked U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball to stay his decision that the startup halt its operations throughout the 10th Circuit, which covers Utah and Colorado and four other western states, as it seeks its appeal.

Kimball sided with broadcasters’ contention that Aereo was violating the Copyright Act because its streams of broadcast signals to digital devices were public performances. His decision marked the first victory for the broadcasters in federal court, after judges in New York and Boston have so far ruled in Aereo’s favor and refused to halt its service.

In a brief to Kimball, Aereo argues that the potential harm to its operations extends beyond the markets in the 10th Circuit where it has launched. It began offering service in Denver and Salt Lake City last year.

“A preliminary injunction would cause great and permanent harm to Aereo and to thousands of members of the public as soon as it takes effect,” Aereo said. “An injunction will cause great confusion in the minds of the general public on the basic legality of using a remote antenna to access free-to-air broadcast content and to make a personal copy of that broadcast content on their remotely located DVR, even in jurisdictions where the courts have explicitly endorsed Aereo’s legality. Consumers in this district who have signed up for Aereo, paid fees, and purchased devices (such as iPads) will be significantly harmed if they can no longer access over-the-air broadcast television with an Aereo antenna and DVR.”

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on April 22 in the broadcasters’ challenge to lower court rulings in New York that upheld the legality of Aereo. The startup argues that the the fact that the high court is hearing the case “demonstrates the significance of the legal issue and weighs heavily in favor of staying the preliminary injunction.”

“The damage to Aereo itself would be tremendous,” the company said. “Aereo will continue to pay for its fixed costs. Additionally, Aereo has spent significant resources entering into these markets.” It also argued that waiting for a Supreme Court ruling would not harm broadcasters, even though Kimball found that broadcast stations were suffering harm because it would undermine their ability to negotiate for the transmission of their signals, among other factors.

Broadcasters’ opening briefs to the Supreme Court are due on Monday, and it is likely that they will cite the victory in Utah to bolster their claim that other federal court rulings were outside the norm when it comes to the interpretation of the Copyright Act.

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  1. Airhead Bit says:

    Lets see: I pay Aereo $8 a month for On Air Content because the GOV imposed ATSC which I can not receive even with a 65 foot tower and $200 antenna. I call the FCC they tell me to get a DISH but don’t offer to pay for it so for 3 years I watch nothing. Then Aereo comes along and provides me with broadcast TV on the internet and I’m a happy camper even with the commercials which is what the broadcaster gets paid for is people watching their crap with the commercials but they are not happy….
    Aereo is my VCR, I can record what I want to watch and if it just a rerun it will not be recorded. I don’t waste any time or get upset anymore when I find out that tonight’s NCIS is a rerun which happens WAY TO MUCH!
    Go a head broadcasters, kill AEREO and lose those of us that can’t see your broadcast without them, trying to watch your shows on your website is painful and for some strange reason you seem to add several extra commercials in between each 8 minute segment of a show.

  2. nypbbob says:

    This is hysterical! These guys are nothing more than Napster was back in the day. And the founders of that company took the same pissy stance against the music industry. Nor did they care about paying the royalties to labels, artists and publishers. The arrogance and self entitlement is laughable. Aereo is stealing and repurposing content and paying nothing for it. Yet they have the nerve to charge consumer and pocket the money. Somebody obviously needs to school these guys on fair use and how it’s evolved since the betamax case some 25+ years ago.

    Content owners will hopefully prevail here. The days of companies thinking they can use content without payment need to end. It’s beyond belief these crooks think they are right with what they are doing.

    Funn Networks

  3. fu man chu says:

    The court got it right. The owners of the content have a right too.
    The technology to do this sort of “re-broadcasting” existed long ago. really, anyone can
    take it off the air and rebroadcast in today’s world.
    if the networks want to stream their content directly they can do and it is their prerogative
    to do so or not. the fact that the content was free does not mean someone can simply grab
    it off the air and re-stream it.
    from a pure business model point of view:
    the networks can bury aereo by just forming a consortium and just streaming their live content
    directly to homes for nominal cost. right now aereo is incurring wasteful (i.e. inefficient use of resources at individual level) to get it off the air and then stream it ! anyway who would want to pay 9$/mo
    forever for PVR and then turn around and pay to cable/uverse/fios for reasonable hi-speed internet to deliver it !
    in fact for a few bucks more you get (abc/nbc/fox etc) tv in HD from internet providers these days.!

    • Ed says:

      A few bucks more? I pay $49.50 for Comcast Internet and with the $8.00 Aereo, the total would be $57.50. I dropped my Comcast Cable as they were charging me $130.00 for both. It’s a little more than a few bucks ($72.50 to be exact) ! I still get ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX on 2nd floor with a Mohu Leaf Antenna (One time cost $39.00), but signal doesn’t work in basement. Aereo for $8.00 would have fixed that!

  4. I am in favor of Aero. It is time for the antiquated over the air and cable networks to get operating in a modern day of broadcasting over the internet and NOT for pay – they get more than enough revenue from selling advertising.

    • CNU says:

      Part of the problem is Aereo allows viewers to skip the ads completely, which gives advertisers less incentive to buy air time. If everyone was allowed to cut the cord and ads like this the revenue stream that pays for the product would dry up and programming production would dry up. Yes updating distribution methods need to be addressed, but its also hardly fair for a 3rd party to make a profit distributing content they without providing any compensation to the producers.

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