Aeroeo Streaming Media Start-Up Wins Court Battle Against Hearst TV
October 11, 2013

Aeroeo Streaming Media Start-Up Wins Court Battle Against Hearst TV

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Streaming media start-up Aereo won another court battle this week. On Thursday the US District Court in the District of Massachusetts denied Hearst Television’s request to shut down the service, which streams broadcast TV signals over Internet-connected devices such as mobile phones.

Hollywood trade magazine Variety noted that this could potentially lead to a showdown between broadcasters and Aereo before the Supreme Court.

Hearst Stations Inc., which operates WCVB-TV in the Boston market, sued Aereo in July and accused it of violating copyrights by reportedly capturing signals and sending them to customers without retransmission permission. The court ruled that Aereo actually violated no such permissions.

“Hearst has not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits nor the requisite irreparable harm” for an injunction, US District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston said following the October 8 ruling.

“Today’s victory belongs to the consumer and today’s decision, makes clear that that there is no reason that consumers should be limited to 1950s technology to access over-the-air broadcast television,” Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said in a statement. Using Aereo, a consumer can simply and easily use an individual remote antenna and cloud DVR via the Internet to record and watch-over-the air program [sic].”

Hearst has since filed a notice that it will appeal the decision. Several major broadcasters that are suing Aereo for copyright infringement plan to petition the US Supreme Court by October 15 to review lower court rulings.

In addition the court denied Aereo’s request to move the case to New York, where it is also facing another lawsuit against a major broadcaster.

“The court was right to keep this case in Boston, the home of WCVB-TV,” a station rep for WCBV said via a statement. “We will immediately appeal the court’s decision that allows Aereo to continue to engage in a commercial business that unlawfully profits by using WCVB’s copyrighted broadcasts and shows. We expect to prevail in this case.”

Aereo, which has backers that include IAC chairman Barry Diller, still faces another lawsuit in Utah, as three local broadcasters as well as Fox Broadcasting have sued the company – alleging that it violates the public performance clause of the Copyright Act.

Aereo has rolled out its service in New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Miami, Houston and Dallas; it has announced plans to expand to Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and San Antonio. The company has just over 100 employees and has raised $63 million from several investors, which include IAC, FirstMark Capital, First Round Capital, Highland Capital Partners and High Line Venture Partners.

“Aereo is a startup company that is challenging traditional satellite and cable television services with low cost options. It uses the Internet, antenna and more to deliver programming,” telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan wrote in June about the business model of Aereo. “It offers packages at $8 per month over the Internet, which is an incredibly low cost option. This could be very attractive to a slice of the consumer pie.”

Aereo has recently announced plans to introduce an Android-based app that will allow users to access the service beginning October 22.