Aereo wins right to stay in operation

Michelle Clancy | 13-07-2012

Barry Diller's Internet streaming company Aereo has won the right to continue operating. A federal judge has rejected a preliminary injunction bid from ABC, CBS, NBCUniversal, Telemundo, FOX, Univision and PBS demanding that Aereo cease operations due to copyright infringement.

Aereo, which offers $12 per month subscriptions in New York City, streams feeds from local TV affiliates over the Web. However, unlike other companies like ivi Inc., which have lost legal battled on the same grounds, Aereo gives every subscriber a small dime-sized (17.91 mm) antenna. Therefore, it argues, the service qualifies as a free over-the-air broadcast, not subject to retransmission fee agreements.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan weighed the financial hardship that the preliminary injunction would present to both sides.

"First and foremost, the evidence establishes that an injunction may quickly mean the end of Aereo as a business," she wrote in her opinion. "The balance of hardships certainly does not tip decidedly in favor of (the broadcasters)," she added.

The media companies said that they would appeal thhe decision, but meanwhile the lawsuits continue to move forwards. It is likely that the case will be decided in a jury trial, many months from now.