Jul 12, 2012

Aereo claims one legal victory in copyright fight with broadcasters including PBS, WNET

Aereo, a startup that transmits over-the-air television signals to consumers via broadband using tiny antennae, won a major victory in federal court Wednesday (July 11) when a judge denied a request from plaintiffs including PBS and WNET to block the service from allowing timeshifting during a live broadcast, reports Paid Content, a news site focusing on the economics of digital content.

Aereo launched in March with significant backing from media mogul Barry Diller. It installed miniature antennae throughout the New York City market to capture over-the-air signals from all local broadcasters, including PBS member station WNET. For $12 a month subscribers each get a single antenna with a remote personal video recorder attached, accessible through their broadband connection. Soon after Aereo's launch, several broadcasters jointly filed copyright infringement lawsuits.

In reaction to this week's ruling, PBS, Fox, Tribune Company and Univision issued a statement, calling the decision "a loss for the entire creative community. The judge has denied our request for preliminary relief — ruling that it is okay to misappropriate copyrighted material and retransmit it without compensation. While we are disappointed, we will continue to fight to protect our copyrights and expect to prevail on appeal."

Chet Kanojia, Aereo c.e.o., said: "It is Aereo’s hope that in light of the judge’s opinion, the plaintiff broadcasters will reconsider their resistance to new technology and embrace consumer access and innovation.”

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan cited precedent set by Cartoon Network vs. CVC Holdings (Cablevision). "In that case, an appellate court agreed with Cablevision that individual delivery to customers of shows recorded via off-site DVR was not the same as a transmission to the public," according to Paid Content.

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