After a string of minor victories, Streaming video service Aereo, which is being sued by network broadcasters in numerous courts around the country, was dealt its first legal loss today with a federal court in Utah siding with broadcasters and issuing an injunction against Aereo from operating in the region.
Much like in previous lawsuits, the broadcasters alleged copyright infringement against Aereo, which uses arrays of teensy antennae to capture freely available over-the-air broadcast feeds and then streams them online to paying customers.
The broadcasters say that Aereo is retransmitting broadcast signals without permission or without paying for them. Aereo maintains that, because each individual antenna is dedicated to a single end-user, and because the broadcast feeds can currently be accessed for free by anyone with a standard antenna, its system is nothing more than a higher-tech version of a rooftop antenna.
Earlier courts have come down against issuing an injunction against Aereo, but the broadcasters have continued to file suit in each new federal court district that the service launched in.
Even though all the cases had yet to be heard, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in January to rule on Aereo’s legality during its spring session.
But that didn’t stop the federal judge in Utah from ruling today that he felt the broadcasters were likely to prevail in their case against Aereo. And so he agreed to the networks’ request for a preliminary injunction that would end the plans of Aereo service in the Salt Lake City and Denver markets, as well as prevent it from launching any service elsewhere in Utah and Colorado, along with New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wyoming, or Montana.
“This is a significant win for both broadcasters and content owners,” says Fox in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.
In an e-mail statement to Consumerist, Chet Kanojia, Founder and CEO of Aereo, writes:
“We are extremely disappointed that the District Court in Utah has chosen to take a different path than every other Court that has reviewed the Aereo technology. Consumers have a fundamental right to watch over the air broadcast television via an antenna and to record copies for their personal use. The Copyright Act provides no justification to curtail that right simply because the consumer is using modern, remotely located equipment.
We are very sorry for the effect on our valued customers in the Tenth Circuit and we will pursue all available remedies to restore their ability to use Aereo.”