Fox and Aereo are at it again, and this time Utah broadcasters have come along for the ride. After two recent failed attempts at injunctions aimed to halt Aereo’s online rebroadcasting of its content, Fox joined Utah broadcasters in another lawsuit on Monday, trying to get the service permanently banned in Utah.
The latest suit, reported by Multichannel News, adds another wrinkle in an already complex storyline. Since Aereo’s inception, FOX has been alleging the company, which rebroadcasts network TV to its subscribers over tiny antennae for a monthly fee, does irreparable damage to its content. Now the Network is adding sharper teeth to its claims, suggesting Aereo’s services threaten relationships with licensed carriers like Hulu, iTunes, and cable and satellite companies, as well as disallowing broadcasters to track viewership for ad revenue.
Monday’s filing is just one in a litany of attempts by Fox and other broadcasters to get Aereo and rival service FilmOn banned from rebroadcasting their content. Both Aereo and FilmOn have been under fire from the networks since day one, with courtrooms from California to Washington D.C. engaging in a back and forth debate on whether or not the services are providing a legal private performance, or an illegal public performance by rebroadcasting network content, with rulings coming down on both sides.
Throughout the fighting and rhetoric, Aereo has been not-so-quietly expanding across the country, opening its cloud-based services in Boston, Atlanta, and New York, with its latest arrival in Utah in August. Less than two months later, local Utah networks KSTU, KMYU, KUTV, and others joined Fox Broadcasting Co. in its attempt to once again thwart Aereo from proceeding.
While the battle is ostensibly being waged over basic licensing and copyright infringement, the real marrow of the issue seems to be simple dollars and cents; unlike ‘legitimate’ online services like Hulu and iTunes, Aereo pays no licensing fees for its services. The Utah lawsuit is just one battle in a greater war that may be destined to play out in the Supreme Court.
What do you think? Should Aereo be allowed to rebroadcast network content for free, or should it be forced to pay its way? As far as the courts have shown, your guess is as good as any.