Broadcasters File Appeal in Response to Aereo Decision

In an appeal that potentially raises the stakes regarding the future of television, broadcasters including Fox, PBS and Univision are asking a New York appeals court to reconsider its decision that allows Barry Diller-backed startup Aereo to retransmit over-the-air TV broadcasts to mobile devices. Earlier this month, we reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York had upheld a ruling in favor of Aereo.

Broadcasters initially sued the startup last year claiming the service violates copyright law, but a district court judge denied the request for a preliminary injunction. This month’s 2-1 decision affirmed the lower court ruling.

“In a new court filing, the broadcasters claim the decision ‘threatens to cause massive disruption to the television industry’ and ‘will wreak commercial havoc,’ and request a full panel of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals to revisit the ruling,” reports paidContent.

“Broadcasters howl that Aereo’s individual antenna system is just a loophole to get around a copyright regime that requires any company that plays over-the-air signals, including cable and satellite firms, to pay retransmission fees,” explains the article.

Aereo has contended that its service, which assigns a mini-antenna to each subscriber, does not lead to copyright infringement. Others suggests the technology threatens to affect the existing model for pay TV.

The ongoing battle could impact the future of TV and end up at the Supreme Court. “In the coming battle, the broadcasters are pinning their hopes on a recent California court case, which shut down an Aereo clone and rejected the theory that a private antenna means a transmission is not ‘public’ under copyright law — a theory accepted by two out three judges on the Second Circuit court,” notes the article.

“In the new filing, the broadcasters rely heavily on the opinion of dissenting judge Denny Chin, who described Aereo’s technology as a ‘sham’ and a ‘Rube Goldberg’ device that ‘over-engineered’ to dodge copyright.”