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Aereo May Shut Down if Court Makes the Wrong Move
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On Wednesday, the CEO of Aereo Inc said that the online television venture might be destroyed if a U.S. judge forces it to stop retransmitting the programming of broadcasters and local TV stations.

Aereo, enables its subscribers to stream live over-the-air broadcasts to their phones, and other internet enabled devices. The venture was launched on March 12 only to New-York area subscribers at a charge of $12 per month. Fox and CBS and others had moved against Aereo even before its launch in separate lawsuits for copyright violations.

However, Aereo maintains that it sells its subscribers a device that can snatch signals from the air, and according to U.S. copyright law and other laws, air is not owned by broadcasting companies.

  
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At a hearing on Wednesday, the Aereo CEO, Chet Kanojia submitted that a preliminary injunction would destroy the business. “It would be devastating. It would be the end of the company,” said he.

ABC has accused Aereo of creating a business that unlawfully bypasses the plaintiff’s exclusive broadcast rights in order to undermine their business. The attorney for Walt Disney Company said “What you are doing is disruption of the current economic system on which on the air broadcast is based.”

Opponents of Aereo maintains that they are being denied of hefty payments from subscribers as Aereo is enabling citizens to snatch signals from the air on the premise that a citizen owns the air as much as broadcasting companies.

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Aereo submitted that its technology does not retransmit anyone’s signals from the company but allows subscribers to order a copy of the live show with a slight delay. They can also record it to watch later.

The judge may not immediately rule for a preliminary injunction as last week the claims of opponents of Aero of unfair competition was dismissed.



No one has exclusive rights to air. This is proved in law, and known well by Barry Diller, whose IAC/InterActive Corp had announced a $20.5 million funding for Aereo.

The cases are American Broadcasting Cos. et al v. Aereo Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-01540; and WNET et al v. Aereo Inc in the same court, No. 12-01543.



 

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