Broadcasters Get Aereo Shut Down In Salt Lake City and Denver
from the you-can't-win-'em-all dept
A string of Aereo legal wins has come to an end, with US District Judge Dale Kimball of Utah imposing a preliminary injunction (pdf) on Aereo’s existing operations in both Utah and Colorado. The injunction covers all of the 10th circuit, so it will technically prevent any future Aereo operations in all of Wyoming, New Mexico, and Oklahoma as well. Aereo currently operates in ten markets, but in recent weeks has bumped into some unspecified capacity issues in both New York and Atlanta (I’ve asked, they won’t get specific about what kind of capacity issues they’ve faced).
Kimball wasn’t particularly receptive to Aereo’s claims that their tiny OTA antennas — one rented to each Aereo subscriber — allow the live streaming TV company to bypass the “Transmit Clause” of the 1976 Copyright Act:
“Based on the plain language of the 1976 Copyright Act and the clear intent of Congress, this court concludes that Aereo is engaging in copyright infringement of Plaintiffs’ programs. Despite its attempt to design a device or process outside the scope of the 1976 Copyright Act, Aereo’s device or process transmits Plaintiffs’ copyrighted programs to the public.”
Similar legal assaults by the broadcast industry had proven unsuccessful in Boston and New York. Needless to say, broadcasters like Fox were pleased by the result, calling the ruling “a significant win for both broadcasters and content owners” that will “prohibit Aereo from stealing our broadcast signal.” Riding on Aereo’s New York win by using the Cablevision precedent, the battle now heads to the Supreme Court for the real showdown on April 22. Should Aereo win that, broadcasters could face a number of similar services offered by cable operators eager to bypass soaring retransmission fees.