Appeals Court Backs Aereo TV1 Apr, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Court deals another blow to broadcasters following last year's Hopper decision
Aereo TV, the subscription service that enables users to stream broadcast television programming via mini antennae to portable devices, April 1 received a lifeline from a federal appeals court, which said it does not infringe third-party content copyrights and can continue operating.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said lawsuits filed by network broadcasters such as Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC “have not demonstrated that they are likely to prevail on the merits of this claim in their copyright infringement action,” among other issues.
The ruling supports a U.S. District Court action last year that said New York-based Aereo does not infringe upon content copyrights. Networks had also argued that Aereo’s digital video recording capability was illegal, which the over-the-top service denied claiming subscribers actually owned the individual antennae.
“We conclude that Aereo’s transmissions of unique copies of broadcast television programs created at its users’ requests and transmitted while the programs are still airing on broadcast television are not ‘public performances’ of the plaintiffs’ copyrighted works,” the ruling reads. “As such, plaintiffs have [not] demonstrated serious questions as to the merits and a balance of hardships that tips decidedly in their favor. We therefore affirm the order of the district court denying the plaintiffs’ motion.”
Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said the decision underscores faith in entrepreneurial start-ups, the legal system and consumer rights.
“We are grateful for the court’s thoughtful analysis and decision and we look forward to continuing to build a successful business that puts consumers first,” Kanojia said in a statement.
Aereo, which launched in New York and now operates in 22 cities, reportedly is in discussions with AT&T and Dish Network to expand broadband service nationally.
Dish, of course, has also run afoul of broadcasters with its controversial Hopper DVR, which includes software enabling users to skip ads on recorded programming as well as watch recorded programming on portable devices without an Internet connection.
The satellite TV operator emerged victorious in U.S. District Court ruling last year. That ruling has been appealed by Fox and other networks.