A Utah Court handed broadcasters their first major victory in their legal battle with the online video service Aereo, two months before the Supreme Court will hear a similar case.
Aereo uses thousands of tiny antennas — one for each subscriber — to stream and record over-the-air TV signals to users, sidestepping the expensive retransmission fees that cable companies pay broadcasters to distribute their content. But the U.S. District Court in Utah told the online video start-up to shutdown its service in Utah and Colorado on Wednesday, saying it was “indistinguishable” from cable TV.
“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,” Judge Dale Kimball wrote. “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.”
The court granted Aereo’s request to put the lawsuit with Fox and local broadcasters on hold until the Supreme Court hears the case, set for April 22.
The ongoing legal battle is essentially about whether Aereo’s performances are public or private.
Broadcasters — including Disney, CBS, NBCUniversal, Fox, and Univision — have been trying to bring Aereo down since it launched in March 2012, suing the company in multiple jurisdictions for stealing their content.
But Aereo Founder and CEO Chet Kanojia contends it does not violate copyright law because its performances are private, a view recently affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. Kanojia was disappointed by the Utah court’s decision to follow a “different path.”
“Consumers have a fundamental right to watch over-the-air broadcast television via an antenna and to record copies for their personal use,” Kanojia said in a statement after the Utah court order. “The Copyright Act provides no justification to curtail that right simply because the consumer is using modern, remotely located equipment.”
This is a major setback for Areo which, until now, has averted injunctions in New York and Boston in similar lawsuits. With Kanojia’s blessing, the broadcasters appealed the 2nd Circuit Court’s decision to the Supreme Court, which decided to take the case last month.
Aereo began offering its services in Utah in August, and in Denver in October. The start-up currently operates in 10 cities, and plans to expand after raising $34 million in funding last month.
What We're Following See More »
Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.