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Aereo Wins Preliminary Injunction Ruling in Boston

10 Oct, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

Just days after it was faced with a new lawsuit from broadcasters in Utah, embattled Aereo TV — the subscription service that lets users stream broadcast TV to portable devices via a mini antennae — has won a victory in a Boston court.

A federal judge Oct. 10 denied Hearst Stations its motion for a preliminary injunction against Aereo, writing in his decision, “After considering the relevant factors, the court finds that a preliminary injunction is unwarranted. Hearst has not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits nor the requisite irreparable harm and therefore it is not entitled to that ‘extraordinary and drastic remedy.’

“Hearst fails to make a sufficient showing that it is likely to prevail on any of [its] claims and therefore this factor weighs against a preliminary injunction in its favor.”

Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia celebrated the ruling, saying his company has never broken the law. The court also denied Hearst’s motion to transfer the case to New York.

“Today’s decision, coupled with the decisions in favor of Aereo in the Southern District of New York and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, shows that when you comply not only with the letter, but the spirit of the law, justice will prevail,” he said. “Today’s victory belongs to the consumer and today’s decision makes clear that there is no reason that consumers should be limited to 1950s technology to access over-the-air broadcast television.”

Aereo allows consumers to use an individual remote antenna and cloud DVR via the Internet to record and watch over-the air programs, for $8 a month. Broadcasters have continued to argue that as copyright owners, they have the right to license out their content to Aereo. Aereo insists it’s following the letter of the law with the Copyright Act, providing consumers technology to access over-the-air content.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton in Boston — where Aereo launched its service in mid-May — agreed with Aereo.

“Hearst claims that Aereo’s services violate [Hearst’s] exclusive rights under … Copyright Act to 1) publicly perform, 2) reproduce, 3) distribute and 4) prepare derivative works based on its copyrighted programming,” Gorton wrote. “Hearst fails to make a sufficient showing that it is likely to prevail on any of these claims and therefore this factor weighs against a preliminary injunction in its favor.”

The Boston ruling comes the same week local TV stations and Fox Broadcasting Co. in Utah filed a similar suit against Aereo, alleging the company is unlawfully retransmitting content, stealing programming and violating intellectual copyrights.

In other Aereo news Oct. 10, the company announced it was releasing an app for Android devices, extending its potential customer base. The app will be available via the Google Play store Oct. 22.

“We know consumers have been waiting a long time for an Aereo Android app and today, we’re happy to announce its release later this month,” Kanojia said. “This year, our focus has been on growing our footprint across the country. It’s been an exciting year for the Aereo team as we’ve expanded beyond the east coast and into the south and west. Our future is bright and we remain as committed and passionate as ever to creating innovative and simple to use technology for our consumers to access live TV online.”


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