Utah Broadcasters, Fox Sue Aereo

Seek preliminary and permanent injunction against OTT TV station signal streamer

Utah broadcasters, joined by Fox, have filed another copyright infringement lawsuit against Aereo, which launched in the state Aug. 19, seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction.

Aereo provides online access to the company's subscribers to TV station signals without paying a copyright fee.

Aereo argues it is providing remote access to free TV station signals via individual antennas. But the broadcasters and Fox contend that providing a performance without payment violates copyright laws.

In their complaint, KSTU-TV (Fox), KUTV-TV (CBS) and KMYU-TV (My Network TV) and Fox Broadcasting Co. say that Aereo's TV station streaming service is a lot more than just a remote antenna farm. "Aereo captures local television stations over-their broadcast signals, reprocesses and copies the programming contained in those broadcasts, and then retransmits the programs over the Internet to members of the public who pay Aereo for a subscription. Neither the local stations nor the copyright owners have authorized Aereo to retransmit their programming," the complaint says.

The lawsuit contends that Aereo is a secondary as well as primary copyright infringer, saying that to the extent Aereo claims that its subs are responsible for making unauthorized copies of their programming, it is a secondary infringer.

It also alleges that broadcasters will suffer irreparable harm because it will undermine their relationships with authorized distributors, including Hulu, iTunes, cable, satellite and mobile outlets; will prevent them from ensuring standards of quality and security; and cause them to lose the ability to track viewership to programs and ads.

"No amount of technological gimmickry by Aereo changes the fundamental principle of law that those who wish to retransmit copyrighted broadcasts may do so only with the copyright owners' authority," the plaintiffs said in a joint statement.

An Aereo spokesperson was not available for comment at press time on late Monday.

Aereo has been rolling out its service to more markets after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit last summer denied another broadcaster's request for a full-court review of a panel of that court's decision not to enjoin Aereo from operating while a lower court adjudicates broadcaster challenges. The lower court also denied to enjoin Aereo.

"In 2012, Fox and other broadcasters chose to file copyright lawsuits against Aereo in the federal courts in New York," said Aereo spokesperson Virginia Lam. "Last year, the trial court denied Fox's and the other broadcasters' request for a preliminary injunction against Aereo; and, in April, the appeals court affirmed that decision. The fact that Fox did not prevail in their efforts to enjoin Aereo in their existing federal lawsuit does not entitle them to a do-over in another jurisdiction. All this meritless suit amounts to is forum shopping and we are hopeful that any such efforts to commence duplicative lawsuits to try to seek a different outcome will be rejected by the courts."


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