Aereo Notches Another Legal Win Against Broadcasters

Aereo, the startup that streams broadcast TV signals over the Internet, scored another victory in federal court Thursday when a district court judge in Massachusetts denied Hearst Television’s request to shut the service down — potentially leading to a showdown between broadcasters and Aereo before the Supreme Court.

The court, however, denied Aereo’s request to move the case to New York, where the startup is facing another lawsuit against major broadcasters.

“The court was right to keep this case in Boston, the home of WCVB-TV,” a station rep said in a statement. “We will immediately appeal the court’s decision that allows Aereo to continue to engage in a commercial business that unlawfully profits by using WCVB’s copyrighted broadcasts and shows. We expect to prevail in this case.”

In a statement, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said, “Today’s victory belongs to the consumer and today’s decision, makes clear that that there is no reason that consumers should be limited to 1950s technology to access over-the-air broadcast television. Using Aereo, a consumer can simply and easily use an individual remote antenna and cloud DVR via the Internet to record and watch-over-the air program.”

As Variety first reported, major broadcasters that are suing Aereo for copyright infringement plan to petition the U.S. Supreme Court by Oct. 15 to review lower court rulings denying their bid to stop Aereo from distributing their programming.

Heart’s ABC affiliate WCVB filed suit in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts against Aereo in July, claiming copyright infringement in that Aereo “intentionally induces and encourages its subscribers to directly infringe WCVB’s copyrights by reproducing programming without authorization.” In the ruling Thursday, District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton denied Heart’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have blocked Aereo, saying the broadcaster did not make its case that it would be likely to succeed on the merits of its claims.

SEE ALSO: Why Aereo Didn’t Try to Exploit CBS-Time Warner Cable Fight

The latest ruling comes after broadcasters were denied requests to block Aereo by a New York district court last year. In July, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider the ruling.

Aereo has prevailed, so far, by relying on a court decision upholding the legality of Cablevision’s network-based DVR system. Like the Cablevision system, Aereo has argued, it is simply hosting antennas and DVR storage infrastructure that its users control remotely. Broadcasters contend Aereo must pay retransmission fees just like cable, satellite and telco TV providers.

Meanwhile, Aereo faces another lawsuit in Utah. In that complaint, as in other previous challenges, three local broadcasters and Fox Broadcasting allege that Aereo violates the public performance clause of the Copyright Act.

Aereo separately said it plans to introduce an Android-based app for accessing the service on Oct. 22.

To date, Aereo — whose backers include IAC chairman Barry Diller — has rolled out service in New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Miami, Houston and Dallas. In addition, Aereo plans to expand to four more cities — Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; and San Antonio, Texas — with launch dates for those markets to be announced.

Aereo, which has just over 100 employees, has raised $63 million from investors including IAC, FirstMark Capital, First Round Capital, Highland Capital Partners and High Line Venture Partners.

More TV

  • Pinewood Studios James Bond

    Netflix's Shepperton Studios Deal Is Stretching the U.K.'s Production Limits

    Netflix’s huge new hub at Shepperton Studios outside London is a further fillip for Britain’s booming production sector. Amid jitters over Brexit and its effects on the economy, the streaming giant’s commitment is a vote of confidence in the U.K. entertainment industry and a continuing source of local jobs. But the decision by Netflix to [...]

  • BBC ITV BritBox Streaming

    BritBox to Roll Out in the U.K. in Fourth Quarter

    British broadcasters the BBC and ITV have formally agreed to launch their joint streaming service, BritBox, in the U.K. in the fourth quarter of 2019. It will be priced at £5.99 per month, making it the same price as the cheapest Netflix subscription in the U.K. ITV will control BritBox, holding a 90% stake. The [...]

  • Kamala Harris

    Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Face Rematch in Next Democratic Debate

    Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris will have the opportunity to square off again in the second debate among Democratic hopefuls vying for their party’s nomination in the 2020 presidential election CNN, which will broadcast the next round of debates on July 30 and 31, televised a draw Thursday night that decided [...]

  • Jon Wax

    Jon Wax Joins Amazon Studios as Head of Genre Programming

    YouTube’s head of scripted programming Jon Wax is joining Amazon Studios as its head of genre programming, Variety has learned. Wax will take up the position recently vacated by Sharon Tal Yguado. He had joined YouTube in August 2017, heading up drama, unscripted and current programming for YouTube’s premium channel. Prior to that, he had [...]

  • South Park Donald Trump

    TV News Roundup: Comedy Central Sets 'South Park' Season 23 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Comedy Central announces the premiere date of “South Park” Season 23 and Netflix sets the premiere date and offers a first look at “Unbelievable.”  DATES Comedy Central announced that Season 23 of “South Park” will premiere Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. Because the episodes are written and animated so [...]

  • US actor Kevin Spacey (C) is

    Kevin Spacey Shouldn't Be Exonerated in Hollywood Even as Criminal Case Ends (Column)

    The news that criminal charges against Kevin Spacey in the Nantucket groping case have been dropped raises an inevitable question: does this mean he can claw his way back into Hollywood’s good graces? Or maybe more importantly: should it?  Spacey’s rapid descent was startling, even as it quickly followed that of the once untouchable producing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content