Legal Tide Turning Against Aereo TV8 Mar, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel
When a federal judge in Utah last month ordered an injunction on Aereo TV in that state as well as Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and parts of Montana and Idaho, it marked the first legal setback for the controversial service.
Manhattan, N.Y.-based Aereo enables subscribers ($8 monthly) to watch live and recorded over-the-air digital broadcast signals via mini antennae connected to portable devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Broadcasters, led by networks Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS, have sued Aereo claiming infringement of intellectual copyrights, among other issues. Aereo contends it is no more than a facilitator of new technology (akin to TV with rabbit ears) enabling consumers to access readily available free airwaves.
Then on March 7, a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals doubled down on the decision by denying on a 2-1 vote Aereo’s emergency motion to stay the injunction.
“Aereo has not made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its appeal,” read the order.
Aereo, which is scheduled to plead its case before the U.S. Supreme Court in April, currently operates in the Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Salt Lake City, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Denver, Baltimore and Cincinnati metropolitan areas. It received $34 million in additional funding in January.
In a statement, Aereo said “We are disappointed in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision denying our request to stay the injunction in the 10th Circuit. We believe that Aereo’s individual, cloud-based antenna and DVR technology falls squarely within the law and we look forward to presenting our case to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Meanwhile, Aereo is celebrating service launch in Austin, Texas, and 12 surrounding counties at special events during SXSW March 8 to 9.