Aereo is aggressively expanding its streaming broadcast TV service — a setback in Chicago notwithstanding — but so too are angry broadcasters expanding the reach of their lawsuits in an attempt to shut down Aereo's business. The latest battleground is Utah, where Fox, CBS, and local TV affiliates have just filed a lawsuit in district court.
As before, the broadcasters claim that Aereo is retransmitting their valuable content without their permission, and without paying a fee. "No amount of technological gimmickry by Aereo changes the fundamental principle of copyright law that those who wish to retransmit copyrighted broadcasts may do so only with the copyright owners' authority," the broadcasters charge.
Expect a drawn-out legal battle
In New York, Aereo actually already won just such a case, and a Boston judge seems inclined to side with Aereo as well, but Fox and CBS are adamant that Aereo can't go unchallenged. They're seeking a Supreme Court decision on the matter, and might have an easier time of that if they can convince a different circuit court to disagree on how the matter should be handled. However, they may not need to win a victory against Aereo itself. If they can continue to successfully challenge other companies that adopt the same business model — using tiny TV antennas to let subscribers access the airwaves — legal experts believe that they could provoke a Supreme Court decision anyhow.
Even should lawsuits fail, broadcasters have more options. Aereo's CEO believes that the TV networks will go to Congress if necessary, and both CBS and News Corp have threatened to drop broadcast TV altogether if Aereo isn't stopped. Even if the chances of that seem slim, it goes to show how much of a threat the networks feel that Aereo really poses.