Add Hearst to the names of traditional media companies trying to stop Aereo from expanding its web TV service. WCVB, a Hearst-owned TV station, filed a copyright lawsuit yesterday in Boston, according to Bloomberg, accusing Aereo of "capturing its signals and retransmitting the programming to its subscribers without a license," the newswire reported.
"If Aereo is permitted to profit from the unauthorized retransmission of copyrighted television programming, WCVB will be deprived of existing and potential revenue streams from advertising and authorized retransmissions," Hearst said in the complaint according to Bloomberg. A spokeswoman for Aereo declined to comment.
"WCVB will be deprived of existing and potential revenue streams"
We haven't seen a copy of the suit yet, but the accusations sound very similar to a suit filed last year in New York by CBS, Fox, NBC, and other TV broadcasters. In that case, two separate federal courts heard the broadcasters' arguments and rejected them. Aereo showed that its technology doesn't capture signals. The company connects subscribers to tiny TV antenas via the internet, and customers control those aerials, which are stored in Aereo's facilities, to change channels and record shows. The New York courts found that Aereo enables people to watch via their antennas instead of roof aerials or rabbit ears and watching over-the-air transmissions with a TV antenna is legal.
The courts have found watching TV with Aereo is like watching with a home antenna'
Since then, Aereo has been branching out across the country and last month moved into Chicago. The broadcasters say that if Aereo is allowed to operate and provide access to over-the-air broadcasts without compensating them, then cable companies will do the same and they will lose an important source of revenue.
Previously, CBS suggested that there would be a legal challenge to Aereo in other cities and this may be one of them. In the past, Aereo has accused the broadcasters of "venue shopping," the term used when one litigant receives an unfavorable ruling and refiles in another court hoping for a different outcome.