First it was New York, then later Boston and today a new battlefield opened in the legal war between the Barry Diller-backed streaming service and broadcasters. Less than two months after its debut in Utah, Fox Broadcasting along with local stations KSTU-TV, KUTV-TV and KMYU-TV filed a copyright infringement suit (read it here) against Aereo in federal court to get the service shut down. The new jury-demanding suit seeks a preliminary injunction against Aereo and it wants unspecified statutory damages, as well as legal fees and whatever else the court will give the plaintiffs. Launched in NYC last year and already in several other cities across the nation, the much-sued Aereo premiered in Utah on August 19. “Aereo has not been authorized by any of the Plaintiffs to retransmit their copyrighted programming. Even though Aereo is in the business of selling access to the programming broadcast on KSTU, KUTV, KMYU, and other local stations, it pays nothing to the copyright owners. Legitimate retransmission services like cable and satellite companies, in contrast, obtain licenses to retransmit broadcast signals to their subscribers,” says the three-count 16-page filing. READ MORE »
Chet Kanojia really didn’t want to sit down to answer apparent contradictions about Aereo‘s patent applications, but today a federal judge ruled that’s what the streaming service CEO and CTO Joseph Lipowski are going to do. Re-affirming his June 20 order that Aereo hand over Kanojia and Lipowski for another hour of deposition with lawyers from suing broadcasters, Judge Henry Pitman pushed aside a slew of objections from the Barry Diller-backed company’s application for reconsideration and told the duo to make themselves available. As the copyright infringement complaint, which was first filed on March 1, 2012, weaves and grinds towards a 2014 trial start, the broadcasters’ attorneys want to probe the two about what their service really is and what Aereo’s patent applications really are. And the NY-based magistrate suggests that Aereo might have played fast and loose with the truth in a previous court win in their favor. “In opposing plaintiffs’ application for a preliminary injunction, Aereo offered expert testimony suggesting that its internet retransmission capability was not substantially different from what consumers could accomplish with off-the-shelf components,” noted Pitman in his 15-page order (read it here). “In their patent application, however, in an apparent effort to establish novelty, the inventors state that broadcast ‘content is generally only available for display on a traditional television. There is generally no simple way for a user to have this content available to their other video-capable devices.’ Although the two positions are not irreconcilable, there is a certain tension between them sufficient to warrant examination,” the judge added.
Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia didn’t hint at any problems on Tuesday when he addressed the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference. He told investors there that his streaming service expects to be in 22 cities by year end. “The goal …
Broadcasters say that both services violate local TV stations’ copyrights by streaming free, over-the-air transmissions without payment. And the media companies were encouraged by recent court victories over FilmOnX. But Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia, who has been winning most of his legal battles, says not so fast. Since there’s never been an opportunity to look at the FilmOnX system in depth “we don’t know what the technology is,” he told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference. “I just don’t know so I shy from doing a comparison.” Meanwhile, Kanojia says he has a winning hand with his case that says Aereo merely allows consumers to lease technologies — including antennas — that they have a right to use. Unlike cable and satellite companies that push channels to consumers (the set top box typically filters out the ones you don’t want), with Aereo “the signal sits dead without your intervention.” That makes his system similar in legal terms to an Internet server, such as Google Drive, that allows consumers to store their music collections. “If you stop Aereo, you’d be stopping entire industries.”
Related: Aereo Expands To Four More Cities
That’s three legal losses in a row for FilmOn X in a week. Today the D.C. District Court denied emergency stay motions by the company and its CEO Alki David against an almost nationwide injunction from a case launched by Fox Television Stations, ABC and NBC. The free-TV-over-the-Internet company was trying to stop the September 5 ordered preliminary injunction from taking effect, to have it modified it so that it covered only the court’s direct jurisdiction and to increase the amount of the bond form $250,000 to 2.75 million. The judge said No all round. “FilmOn X’s arguments are not persuasive. The Court weighed the relevant factors – likelihood of success on the merits, possibility of irreparable harm, balance of the harm, and the public interest – it its Opinion and concluded that all four considerations favor Plaintiffs. That conclusion remains in equal force now. Most importantly, Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim,” said Judge Rosemary Collyer Thursday in a memo opinion accompanying her order (read them here and here). The injunction is set to take effect today though FilmOn X subscribers can still access material that the service has licenses for. Still for David, the broadcasters’ win today is a mere battle in his war with them. “They continually try to thwart innovation, destroy the first amendment and steal from the public. It is best they give up soon because it will be cheaper less bloody for them in the long run,” he told me this afternoon.
“You will see at our third quarter earnings that there was no harm done to CBS Corporation,” the company chief told investors at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference …
We knew that they were going to be joined at the legal hip soon enough, but that was really fast. One day after a federal court in D.C gave broadcasters an almost nationwide injunction against streaming service FilmOn X, the Hearst-owned Boston station WCVB-TV made damn sure that the judge in its suit against the Barry Diller-backed Aereo knew about that victory and the legal logic behind it. “Although the defendant in that case is different, the Court expressly assumed that the services and technology used by that defendant were, for all relevant purposes, the same as Aereo’s services and technology,” said the September 6 bullet point notice from the ABC affiliate (read it here). “The Court expressly rejected the argument, also asserted by Aereo here, that the use of multiple, individual transmissions rendered performances private,” added the three-page filing which was accompanied by the D.C. District Court opinion on Alki David-owned FilmOn X. WCVB-TV filed a copyright infringement suit and sought an injunction against Aereo in Boston in early July. The two have been throwing filings back and forth since with a hearing on the initial suit and the injunction scheduled for next week in Massachusetts federal court.
The battle of Boston continues. Just more than two weeks after Aereo slammed Hearst-owned WCVB-TV for its July 10 copyright suit and injunction request against the Barry Diller-backed streaming video service, the plaintiff has returned fire. In a 12-page reply (read it here) filed Friday in federal court in Massachusetts, the ABC affiliate says Aereo “engages in a technological shell game to avoid the plain wording of the Copyright Act.” Last week’s filing once again asks the court to grant a preliminary injunction shutting Aereo down in Boston, where it debuted at the end of May. In its August 7 opposition to the initial complaint, Aereo said that it is not infringing anyone’s copyright but simply providing an antenna and remote DVR service to customers for broadcasts that consumers already get for free. The streaming service also noted that the claims of WCVB-TV were very similar in nature and kind to the unsuccessful NYC-based attempt by broadcasters that the Second Circuit affirmed in April. That case is now back in District Court while Aereo has expanded from its first site in NYC to Boston, Atlanta, Utah, Chicago and Houston, Dallas and Miami next month.
Listen to (and share) episode 46 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive editor talks with host David Bloom about a week filled with explanations from media executives regarding the many challenges to their lucrative business models, including whether cord-cutting is accelerating; if Aereo is a threat or a gimmick; whether Dish and DirecTV are facing a shotgun marriage forced by investors; and why Time Inc. is staying at Time Warner for a little longer.
Nearly a month after WCVB-TV filed a copyright infringement suit and sought an injunction against the Barry Diller-backed streaming video service, the much litigated Aereo says the Hearst-owned station has its facts wrong. “Hearst cannot claim harm from consumer use of individual antennas because consumers are entitled to use them. Further, Hearst has not alleged (much less demonstrated) any current harm or concrete future harm. It alleges only the possibility of future harm. Such speculations cannot warrant the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction.” says the company’s memorandum in opposition filed on August 7 (read it here). “In contrast, the harm to Aereo if an injunction issued would be devastating and irreparable,” adds the Massachusetts federal court filing seeking a denial of Heart’s request for a preliminary injunction
Miami comes first on September 2, followed by Houston on September 16, and Dallas on September 23. The Dallas date probably will be too late for Aereo to play a role there in the carriage dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable. …
Will broadcasters including Fox and CBS make good on threats to take their programming to pay TV if the courts say that Aereo can stream their over-the-air signals without compensating them? Probably not, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia tells CNBC. Companies wouldn’t want to endanger their local newscasts, a …
Long Island City, New York (July 22, 2013) – Aereo, Inc., today announced plans to launch its groundbreaking online television technology in Utah on August 19. Aereo’s announcement follows its expansion earlier this summer to the Boston and Atlanta metropolitan areas. The company also plans to launch its technology in Chicago on September 13.
“We’re excited to be launching our technology in Utah, or what is fast becoming known as the Silicon Slopes,” said Aereo CEO and Founder Chet Kanojia. “Utahns are connected, tech-savvy and interested in innovations that can add value to their lives. When it comes to how you watch television, Aereo’s technology will bring more choice and flexibility to Utahns across the state, whether you live in Salt Lake City, St. George or Ogden. We believe consumers want and deserve a better television experience and our work is focused on delivering the best customer experience with the highest quality technology.”
The broadcasters’ desire to shut Aereo down could end up at the nation’s highest court. “The 2nd circuit’s denial of our request for an ‘en banc’ hearing, while disappointing was not unexpected. We will now review …
Chicago, Illinois (June 27, 2013) – Aereo, Inc., today announced plans to launch its groundbreaking online television technology in the Chicagoland area on September 13, continuing the company’s nationwide rollout. The expansion to Chicago will cover 16 counties across Illinois and Indiana. Aereo’s technology is currently available to consumers residing in the New York City, Boston and Atlanta designated market areas (DMA). Aereo’s CEO and Founder, Chet Kanojia, will make the announcement today during a main stage Q&A at TechWeek Chicago, the annual technology summit held at Chicago’s famed Merchandise Mart.