Just over two months to the day that Hearst-owned WCVB-TV was denied its preliminary injunction motion against the Barry Diller-backed streaming service, the Boston ABC affiliate has began its predictable appeal. “Simply put, this case affects the very future of over-the-air broadcasting as we know it,” says the distinctly not understated 160-page appeal made Monday to the First Circuit (read it here). As others have argued about Aereo in other cases, part of their latest copyright argument against the service is that Massachusetts-based federal District Judge Nathaniel Gorton didn’t know what he was talking about in his October 8 order. “In denying WCVB’s public performance argument, the district court failed to engage in any independent analysis and appears to have relied exclusively on the reasoning of a Second Circuit case, which has been harshly criticized by copyright scholars and had not been followed by any other court outside that circuit,” asserts the filing. This week’s latest Aereo legal action comes as Disney, CBS, NBCUniversal, WNET, Fox, and Univision await to learn if the Supreme Court will hear their potentially game changing October 11 submitted petition to review a 2012 ruling not to shut Aereo down pending a trial. It also comes as Aereo announced plans to expand to new markets the likes of Detroit and Denver and has been slapped with a second injunction motion in Utah.
With just days to go before broadcasters are likely to take Aereo to the Supreme Court, a federal judge has denied Hearst-owned Boston-station WCVB-TV a preliminary injunction motion against the Barry Diller-backed streaming service. “The Court finds that Hearst has made a minimal showing of irreparable harm that is an insufficient basis for entering a preliminary injunction in its favor,” said District Judge Nathaniel Gorton. “Hearst has not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits nor the requisite irreparable harm and therefore it is not entitled to that ‘extraordinary and drastic remedy’,” he adds in the October 8 order (read it here). As one part of its argument, Hearst had hoped that the Massachusetts-based court would see the merits of the almost nationwide injunction that a federal D.C. court had hit fellow streaming service FilmOnX with in September. With that now not happening, the long and the short of it means that this case will go forward with the multi-city Aereo still available in the Boston area showing the ABC affiliate’s programming. “Today’s decision, coupled with the decisions in favor of Aereo in the Southern District of New York and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals shows that when you comply not only with the letter, but the spirit of the law, justice will prevail,” said Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia in a statement today. The decision wasn’t a total win for Aereo as the service was denied its motion to transfer the case to the Southern district of New York, where it has had legal success in the past.
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.
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
At this rate there could be more Aereo lawsuits than subscribers. The Barry Diller-backed streaming video provider has been taken to court by another broadcaster this week as Hearst-owned Boston ABC affiliate WCVB-TV filed a copyright infringement complaint (read it here) against Aereo on Tuesday in Massachusetts federal court. After debuting in NYC last year and earning the legal wrath of ABC, NBC, Fox, Univision and CBS among others, Aereo expanded to the Boston area on May 15 of this year. A “wrongdoing,” as the suit calls Aereo’s actions, that WCVB wants stopped. “If Aereo is permitted to profit from the unauthorized retransmission of copyrighted television programming, WCVB will be deprived of existing and potential revenue streams from advertising and authorized retransmissions, both of which are critical to supporting free, over-the-air broadcast television. Aereo’s service unavoidably will negatively affect WCVB’s efforts and resources devoted to the creation of valuable television programming — including the important local news, public safety, weather and emergency programming, public affairs, public service, and other public interest programming for the Boston community,” says the four-claim 22-page complaint.
Like the broadcaster suits filed in NYC, the Hearst owned station seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction to shut the streaming service down in the region. They also want …