Aereo, the streaming television service that is currently only available in New York, was recently put on the chopping block by major broadcasting companies such as Fox, Univision, and PBS, who filed a lawsuit against CEO Barry Dillard and his tiny start up for copyright infringement. The television networks claimed that Aereo “is an unauthorized Internet delivery service that is receiving, converting and retransmitting broadcast signals to its subscribers for a fee.” They wanted an injunction to temporarily stop Aereo from streaming content during the trial.
Last week, a New York judge rejected the request for an injunction, allowing the company to continue, business as usual, during the case’s hearing. Judge Alison Nathan believes Aereo will ultimately win against the broadcasters because the device is basically doing the same thing as a DVR.
In a failed lawsuit against Cablevision, a federal court ruled that, “each RS-DVR playback transmission is made to a single subscriber using a single unique copy produced by that subscriber … such transmissions are not performances ‘to the public.’” Judge Nathan compared the DVR lawsuit to Aereos, stating, “[C]opies Aereo’s system creates are not materially distinguishable from those in Cablevision.”
Diller is already back on the hunt. He told Bloomberg the company will ramp up marketing. “Within a year and a half, certainly by ’13, we’ll be in most major markets,” he said in a television interview.
If Aereo succeeds and becomes a new way to view television, “old media” will need to learn some new tricks to stay on top. Diller told Bloomberg that an unnamed friend in the broadcast business relayed his fears to the CEO. “One of my friends at a large broadcaster said ‘you succeeded in dropping my stock two percent,’” he said. “I did think we were on the right side of this and I’m happy the judge agrees with us.