Western justice: Utah judge deals Aereo its first big loss

police able search phone without warrant supreme court

In the midst of preparing for a Supreme Court battle that could have major ramifications for streaming video and the television industry as a whole, Aereo was dealt a major blow today in a Utah courtroom. In the first big win for broadcasters, who have filed a litany of suits against Aereo, U.S. District Justice Dale Kimball granted a preliminary injunction against the streaming service, shutting it down in six western regions.

Aereo has been in hot water with the four major networks and local broadcasters since its inception two years ago. Like rival service, FilmOn, Aereo rents tiny antennae to users for a monthly fee, which allows them to watch broadcasts of network content online and at their leisure. FilmOn has even taken things further recently, with an antenna-free connection to its broadcasts.

But unlike FilmOn, which has endured two courtroom losses, Aereo has thus far gone largely unscathed. The company has argued that its rebroadcasting of network content is a private performance, and therefore protected under the law. Decisions in both New York and Boston effectively upheld those claims, preventing injunctions in those cases.

Major networks like Fox and CBS have argued Aereo and FilmOn’s unlicensed services are public performances, and further, that they cause irreparable harm to their content, painting the services as a major threat to billions of dollars in annual revenue. The conglomerates that own the ‘big four’ have used their deep pockets to keep both streaming services in the courtroom virtually throughout their existence. The constant legal brawling has resulted in the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the case in a final, winner-takes-all throw-down slated for this April.

As reported by Variety, Justice Kimball called out Aereo’s entire business model in his 26 page decision, stating the company attempts to take advantage of a “perceived loophole” in a 1976 copyright law. Kimball made several arguments for the networks’ claims of irreparable harm to their content, and also stated that the law is clearly written to apply to “any performance made available to the public,” taking a major swipe at Aereo’s main claim to legality, founded on its use of privately leased antennae for each broadcast.

The injunction will effectively bar Aereo from setting up shop in Utah, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, and will put a stop to its current services in the metropolitan areas of both Salt Lake City and Denver. While Kimball stayed the actual lawsuit until after the forthcoming Supreme Court case, he used his argument to issue the injunction until the Utah case resumes – assuming that will even be necessary after the High Court’s ruling.

Aereo has apologized publicly to its western customers, and vowed to fight on and restore service as soon as possible. It’s not clear if the win for broadcasters will have an effect on the Supreme Court case, but it certainly won’t help matters for Aereo, or FilmOn. Meanwhile, after a litany of lawsuits and years fighting it out in the courts, the big four finally have something to gloat about. We’ll see who’s smiling after the case makes its prime time debut this April.

Home Theater

Why you can’t buy Car Thing, Spotify’s first hardware device

Spotify created a voice-activated, in-car device that lets you listen to music and podcasts. But Car Thing, as it is known, is not for sale. Instead, it will be used to gather data from a limited set of customers.
Deals

Take a gander at the best 4K smart TV deals for May 2019

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Home Theater

Sonos Beam vs. Sonos Playbar: Which home theater soundbar should you buy?

The Sonos Playbar and Sonos Beam: United by all of the features that make Sonos superb, they're two soundbars intended for very different situations. Which one is right for you? We put them head-to-head to find out.
Home Theater

Netflix vs. Amazon Prime Video: A battle of streaming giants

It might seem like Netflix should be your default choice as a streaming video service, but Amazon Prime Video's price and many extra perks make it a compelling alternative. Which one is best for you? Our comparison can help.
Movies & TV

ESPN Plus is a great sports companion. Here's everything you need to know

ESPN's streaming service, ESPN Plus, arrived in 2018, but it isn't a replacement for your ESPN cable channels and it differs from other streaming apps in a few key ways. We answer all of your questions in this guide.
Movies & TV

Tired of Netflix? Here's where to find free movies online, legally

We've spent countless hours digging around the web to find the best sites for streaming free movies online. Not only are all of these sites completely free to use, they're also completely legal and trustworthy.
Movies & TV

The Iron Throne deserves better: Our picks for the rightful ruler of Westeros

Who should sit on the Iron Throne? A look at some of the people who could have been the best King or Queen to sit on the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones, and a few who still have the opportunity to do so.
Deals

Don’t miss your chance to save $700 on a 65-inch Vizio P-Series 4K TV

Walmart has launched a corker of a sale on a 65-inch Vizio 4K TV that's perfect for aspiring cord cutters and satellite fans alike. This deal sends the price plummeting from $1,700 to $1,000.
Deals

This 50-inch Samsung 4K TV is an absolute steal at $420

Need a 4K TV, but on a strict budget? Walmart has the answer: A 50-inch Samsung 4K TV for $330 off. You'll need to act fast to avoid disappointment though, as we've learned that the retailer is running low on stock.
Deals

The best wireless noise-canceling headphones are now on sale

In need of a reliable set of noise-canceling wireless headphones? You've come to the right place — Drop has knocked a cool $70 off the Sony WH-1000XM3, dropping (pun intended) the price of the cans down to a healthier $280.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (May 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

These are the best movies on Hulu right now (May 2019)

From dramas to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2019, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR and much more.
Home Theater

How to wall mount a TV: Tips and tricks to cut down on frustration

This how-to guide includes a video on how to wall mount a TV, along with other tips and tricks about the process. Step by step, we'll take you through what you have to do to successfully get your TV on your wall.