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Federal Judge Shuts Down Aereo Service In Salt Lake City And Utah With Preliminary Injunction

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TV startup Aereo has been handed a decision that isn’t in its favor in at least one battleground where it’s fighting broadcasters in court: In Utah, a federal judge imposed a temporary injunction on the service in a decision that covers Aereo’s existing markets Salt Lake City and Denver, as well as six states including Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma , Wyoming and Montana.

The decision is a bit of a black eye for Aereo, and broadcasters celebrated the rare win – so far, other courts have generally refused to impose preliminary injunctions on Aereo, which broadcasters claim illegally steals and repurposes their over-the-air TV signals. The service works by taking those freely offered broadcasts and converting them to digital signals, which can then be recorded for later personal use. Fox’s statement (via Variety) reads as follows:

We are very pleased that the U.S. District Court in Utah has granted our request for a preliminary injunction. This injunction will prohibit Aereo from stealing our broadcast signal in Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Montana.

The Supreme Court will still hear the case against Aereo on April 22, and that will ultimately determine the service’s fate, but for now, it can no longer serve customers in the Denver and Salt Lake City markets where it launched in November last year. Aereo promises to try to come up with a way to get customers back on the platform, however, as Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia shared in a statement sent to TechCrunch:

We are extremely disappointed that the District Court in Utah has chosen to take a different path than every other Court that has reviewed the Aereo technology.  Consumers have a fundamental right to watch over the air broadcast television via an antenna and to record copies for their personal use. The Copyright Act provides no justification to curtail that right simply because the consumer is using modern, remotely located equipment.

We are very sorry for the effect on our valued customers in the Tenth Circuit and we will pursue all available remedies to restore their ability to use Aereo.