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March 15, 2012

Will TV Networks Stop the Launch of Aereo's New TV Service?

By Daniel Brecht, Contributing Writer

Aereo, Inc., formerly known as Bamboom Labs, Inc., is a broadcasting company in Long Island City, New York that is about to launch an online television service for users to receive video content to their web browsers via a remote antenna and DVR. At $12.00 per month, Aereo will give subscribers access to watch live TV programming and stream broadcasts from major television network stations like Fox, PBS, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CW, and other program channels.  

Aereo’s new TV service involves taking an over-the-air stations’ program, converting the signal and then retransmitting it so subscribers can stream it. Even though it seems Aereo’s services may be legal, is it?

Some broadcasters question whether Aereo’s plan to stream TV network programming on to a computer or on mobile devices is legal. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and three other broadcasting networks, PBS, FOX and Univision, claim it is not legal; in fact, they have joined in a lawsuit saying Aereo’s new service, allowing subscribers to stream a TV networks’ program over the Internet, is illegal because of using copyright material without permission.

As a result, there is a lawsuit against Aereo for copyright infringement; NAB has also made a concise statement to support legal action against Aereo. In defense, Aereo has filed a countersuit (11 days after) against the broadcasters denying the charges and to force the broadcasters to pay for its legal fees.

Aereo’s response is based on the assertion that they have not infringed copyrights just by making it more convenient and easier for customers to access broadcast television; broadcasters disagree arguing that Aereo is illegally providing streaming of content. Will Aereo’s video-streaming service be shut down for alleged copyright violations – which has happened to other companies that have already been judged – or will the court and jury see that consumers are entitled to Aereo’s cloud DVR and their remote antenna to record and watch retransmitted broadcast television?

As the legal battles get underway in the courtroom on whether or not Aereo’s on-line transmission of broadcast programming to subscribers is a copyright infringement or not, all that Aereo customers can do now is await the verdict. Hopefully, Aereo can convince the District Court in NY of its case and not end up at the Supreme Court level to resolve it.

A case like this makes one wonder if there is now a need for a significant overhaul or clarification of all Copyright Laws on aspects of downloading and streaming media.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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