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Court rules in favor of controversial TV service Aereo

Published April 2, 2013 12:29 am

Technology • Internet-based TV service is expanding into Salt Lake City later this year.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A federal appeals court Monday upheld a ruling in favor of Aereo.com that could pave the way for the controversial Internet-based television service to expand into Salt Lake City.

Aereo.com is being sued by several TV networks that claim the company's service violates copyright law.

The New York City-based company allows subscribers to view their local over-the-air broadcast networks, as well as more than 20 other networks, on Internet-connected devices such as computers, mobile phones and tablets. The endeavor is mostly backed by media mogul Barry Diller, the former head of Paramount Pictures, Fox Broadcasting and USA Broadcasting.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals Monday upheld an earlier district court ruling that denied a preliminary injunction against Aereo, which is being sued by by ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS.

Aereo's technology involves an array of hundreds of thousands of tiny antennas — each one assigned to a subscriber — that take broadcaster signals and beams them to mobile devices via an Internet connection. Aereo claims its service doesn't violate copyright law because each antenna is assigned to one subscriber.

The federal appeals court agreed. It ruled that Aereo transmissions are sent to subscribers as "unique copies" and are not "public performances" of the broadcaster's copyrighted works.

Several of the broadcasters have indicated they intend to continue their fight, either at trial or through an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a New York Times story.

Aereo announced at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year that it would be expanding its service to 22 other U.S. cities beginning in the spring including Denver, Detroit, Baltimore, Atlanta, Miami, Boston as well as Salt Lake City.

Reuters contributed to this story.