Aereo Scores A Big Victory In Court As TV Network Appeal Of Earlier Decision Rejected

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Aereo, the streaming TV startup based out of NYC, has just scored a significant win in its ongoing court battles thanks to a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today (via Verge). The Court rejected an appeal from a group of TV networks against an earlier decision claiming that Aereo did not in fact infringe upon broadcaster copyrights.

The appeals decision, rendered today, means that defendants including ABC, Disney, CBS, NBC, Universal, Telemundo and WJNU-TV will have to pursue an appeal with the Supreme Court if it wants the original decision overturned. The previous court’s decision to deny the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction means that Aereo will still be able to operate its services and transmit programs that are still airing on their parent networks. The decision in part hinges on the District Court’s finding that Aereo’s antennas operate independent of one another, like any HDTV over-the-air antenna, rather than as a single unit.

The decision is good news for Aereo’s plans to work with TV providers and ISPs to continue expanding its subscriber base. It would be much more difficult for the startup to curry favor with companies that count Aereo’s legal opponents as close partners. And the decision sets a precedent that helps more firmly establish its technology on solid legal ground, which is another bonus for negotiating with content and network partners capable of getting it in front of more users.

Update: Aereo has issued an official press release about the ruling. The release includes a statement from Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia celebrating the court’s decision:

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.

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