Something tells us the US Court of Appeals for the Second District has no intentions to kid around with its latest decision, despite it coming down on the 1st of April. In what can only be viewed as a monumental victory for Aereo, the aforesaid court has just rejected an appeal from a smattering of TV networks that are hellbent on stopping the web-streaming company from treading on their territory. For those unaware, Aereo allows users to stream OTA television networks over the web, but this here court found that the system did not infringe on the broadcasters' copyrights. Of course, a battle at the Supreme Court level is a practical certainty, so it's definitely not out of the proverbial woods just yet.
That said, a separate Wall Street Journal report sheds light on ongoing discussions between the startup and some very established players in the industry -- if you can't beat 'em, join' em... right? As the story goes, AT&T, Dish Network and DirecTV have all spoken with Aereo as the company hopes to expand its footprint beyond New York City and the surrounding areas. On one hand, a mega-corp swallowing Aereo could lead to near-instant demise for its technologies, but given the right owner, it could provide the disruption the pay-TV sector so badly needs.
ECOND CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS UPHOLDS DISTRICT COURT DECISION IN FAVOR OF AEREO
Ruling from Second Circuit Court of Appeals finds in favor of Aereo, upholding Federal District Court
Judge Nathan's decision denying plaintiffs' request for an injunction
Decision is another important victory for consumers as Aereo expands access to its
technology across the United States in 2013
New York, NY (April 1, 2013) – The Second Circuit Court of Appeals today issued a ruling in favor of Aereo, affirming in all respects the District Court's denial of the motions by the plaintiffs, a group of 17 network broadcasters, for a preliminary injunction against Aereo. The Appeals Court in Wnet et al. v. Aereo, Inc. (12-2786-cv) and ABC et al. v. Aereo, Inc (12-2807-CV), citing the language of the Copyright Act, its legislative history and the Court's prior decisions, including the Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc, 536 F.3rd 121 (2nd Cir 2008) ("Cablevision") decision, held that transmissions made by consumers using the Aereo technology are not public performances under the Copyright Act.
As stated in today's Court of Appeals decision, "We conclude that Aereo's transmissions of unique copies of broadcast television programs created at its users' requests and transmitted while the programs are still airing on broadcast television are not 'public performances' of the Plaintiffs' copyrighted works under Cablevision. As such, Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that they are likely to prevail on the merits on this claim in their copyright infringement action. Nor have they demonstrated serious questions as to the merits and a balance of hardships that tips decidedly in their favor. We therefore affirm the order of the district court denying the Plaintiffs' motion."
The Court, in relying on its prior decision in Cablevision, noted the critical importance of the ability of businesses to rely on existing legal precedent. The Court found that, like Aereo, it appears that many cloud-based businesses that allow users to store their own content in the cloud "have relied on Cablevision as an authoritative interpretation of the Transmit Clause" of the Copyright Act.
"Today's decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals again validates that Aereo's technology falls squarely within the law and that's a great thing for consumers who want more choice and flexibility in how, when and where they can watch television," said Chet Kanojia, Aereo CEO and Founder. "Today's ruling to uphold Judge Nathan's decision sends a powerful message that consumer access to free-to-air broadcast television is still meaningful in this country and that the promise and commitment made by the broadcasters to program in the public interest in exchange for the public's spectrum, remains an important part of our American fabric."
Kanojia continued, "We may be a small start-up, but we've always believed in standing up and fighting for our consumers. We are grateful for the court's thoughtful analysis and decision and we look forward to continuing to build a successful business that puts consumers first."