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Aereo Seeks to Preempt CBS Legal Action in Boston

Aereo filed a request in New York federal court Monday seeking a declaratory ruling that its Internet TV service is legal, citing CBS execs’ tweets and statements threatening to sue the startup over its expansion into Boston.

“The fact that CBS did not prevail in their efforts to enjoin Aereo in their existing federal lawsuit does not entitle them to a do-over in another jurisdiction,” Aereo spokeswoman Virginia Lam said. “We are hopeful that any such efforts to commence duplicative lawsuits to try to seek a different outcome will be rejected by the courts.”

Aereo filed the motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Asked for comment, CBS head of communications Dana McClintock — who is cited in the Aereo lawsuit — said: “These public relations and legal maneuvers do not change the fundamentally illegal nature of Aereo’s supposed business. The issue of unauthorized streaming of copyrighted television programming is now being contested in the 2nd Circuit and the 9th Circuit, and wherever Aereo attempts to operate there will be vigorous challenges to its Illegal  business model.”

Last month, Aereo said it would bring service to Beantown, after launching in New York last year. In response, McClintock sent out a number of tweets indicating the Eye would sue the startup over the Boston launch. CBS topper Les Moonves, on company’s earnings call last week, also said “we’ll sue [Aereo] again” in other markets.

Aereo’s lawsuit cites several tweets from McClintock, including these:

https://twitter.com/Dana_McClintock/status/326721361663885315
https://twitter.com/Dana_McClintock/status/326710815564627968

Aereo uses dime-size, dedicated antennas to receive local TV broadcasts, then streams live or recorded programs online. Startup, whose major backer is IAC chairman Barry Diller, argues over-the-air TV is free for any consumer to access and that Aereo’s service merely provides antenna reception on behalf of customers.

CBS and other broadcasters filed copyright-infringement lawsuits against Aereo, claiming the company must pay retransmission fees the way cable and satellite TV providers do. Federal courts have twice turned down broadcasters’ requests for injunctions that would shut Aereo down.

Since then, broadcast TV execs have threatened to remove popular content from broadcast channels — or convert them to pay channels — if Aereo prevails in court. Earlier this year, Aereo announced plans to expand to 22 markets in 2013, extending as far west as Salt Lake City.

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