updated 08:35 pm EST, Thu March 1, 2012
All major NYC broadcasters involved in suits
A number of broadcasting companies have quickly moved to sue Aereo, a startup that aims to stream broadcast HDTV content. The broadcasters are attempting to prevent the service from launching, accusing the startup of copyright infringement and asking judges to order an injunction to block the service before it becomes available to the public.
Two separate lawsuits have been filed by separate groups of television station owners that broadcast in the New York City area, where the service was expected to be first introduced. One lawsuit is affiliated with stations such as the CW, Fox, PBS and Univision, while the second suit was pushed by stations representing ABC, CBS and NBC stations.
Aereo's service will enable users to view broadcast television stations in HD via Internet connections. The company connects each subscriber to their own dedicated antenna, rather than redistributing and sharing the signal from a few antennas, however the tuners and antennas are all centralized in data centers.
A separate startup, known as Zediva, had attempted to offer a remote DVD streaming service that relied on centralized DVD players within data centers. The company argued that its service did not violate copyright law because each physical disc was pulled from circulation and played through its own DVD player, however the court disagreed and ordered a permanent injunction.
In a statement released after the lawsuits were filed, Aereo claimed that it "does not believe that the broadcasters' position has any merit." The startup also "very much looks forward to a full and fair airing of the issues," hinting that the legal challenges were expected.