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Fox, Others Sue Aereo in Utah

9 Oct, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

Another lawsuit — this time in Utah — has been brought against Aereo TV, the controversial subscription service that lets users stream broadcast TV to portable devices via a mini antennae.

The copyright suit — filed by local TV stations and Fox Broadcasting Co. — alleges Aereo is unlawfully retransmitting content, stealing programming and violating intellectual copyrights.

“To provide this ‘Live TV Online,’ Aereo captures local television stations’ over-the- air broadcast signals, reprocesses and copies the programming contained in those broadcasts, and then retransmits the programs over the Internet to members of the public who pay Aereo for a subscription,” the suit reads. “Neither the local stations nor the copyright owners have authorized Aereo to retransmit their programming.

Aereo brought its cloud-based antenna and DVR technology to Utah in August, and has been challenged in court in New York and Boston by broadcasters. In July the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that Aereo’s service did not violate copyright law. The broadcasters in that case — including Fox, CBS, ABC, Telemundo and NBC — said they would seek a hearing in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The company charges $8 a month, includes 20 hours of DVR storage, and lets users record and watch local networks, over-the-air special interest and foreign language channels on laptops, tablets and smartphones.

“Aereo claims that it is entitled to sell subscription access to copyrighted programming without compensating the copyright owners because it has invented a business model that falls within a purported loophole to the Copyright Act,” the suit continues. Aereo captures broadcasts using miniature antenna loops that it then assigns to subscribers when they log on, making “its transmissions … ‘private’ and therefore not subject to the Copyright Act,” the suit reads.

However, the lawsuit contends that copyright law does not permit Aereo to retransmit without permission, whether it uses one large antenna or hundreds of small ones.

“No amount of technological gimmickry by Aereo changes the fundamental principle of copyright law that those who wish to retransmit copyrighted broadcasts may do so only with the copyright owners’ authority,” the suit reads.

Aereo spokeswoman Virginia Lam told the Los Angeles Times: “All this meritless suit amounts to is forum shopping and we are hopeful that any such efforts to commence duplicative lawsuits to try to seek a different outcome will be rejected by the courts.”

The suit seeks an injunction and unspecified copyright infringement damages.

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