Broadcasters Will Petition Supreme Court to Review Aereo Case (Exclusive)

Justices will have to choose between taking case or letting legal proceedings play out further

Aereo Judge
Oliver Munday

Broadcasters plan to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review lower court rulings that have allowed Aereo to continue offering unauthorized streams of digital signals in New York, according to sources familiar with the case.

A decision has been made to file a petition, or writ of certoriari, by a deadline of Oct. 15. In July, one of the plaintiffs, Fox, indicated that appealing to the high court was one of its options after the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider the case. The appellate court had upheld a lower court decision in which U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan denied broadcasters’ efforts to obtain a preliminary injunction to stop Aereo.

Aereo launched in March, 2012, in New York, offering digital streams of broadcast signals via thousands of dime-seized remote antennas assigned to each of its subscribers. Broadcasters have been challenging the startup in court, arguing that it violates their copyright of public performance, and although they have so far lost in the 2nd Circuit, that have so far been victorious in their legal effort in Los Angeles and Washington district courts to stop Film On X, a similar startup that offers digital streams via remote antennas.

The Supreme Court is prone to step in when circuit courts issue conflicting opinions, and there is a question as to whether the justices will take the case, or whether they will wait for the legal proceedings to play out further. The 9th circuit has yet to issue a decision in Film On X’s appeal of the Los Angeles district court decision, and if broadcasters prevail, they could have a bolstered argument that there is a split in the appellate courts on the issue.

The challenge to Aereo in New York is coming via twin lawsuits. Plaintiffs in one case include Fox Television Stations, WPIX-TV, Univision, WNET-TV and PBS, and plaintiffs in the other include ABC, CBS, NBCUniversal, Telemundo and WNJU-TV.