Skip to main content

If you can’t beat ’em, pick on someone smaller! Networks go after Aereo copycat

filmon responds to 90000 fine alki david
FilmOn founder Alki David at his broadcast television antenna farm Image used with permission by copyright holder

Aereo has been expanding its services into new markets in a very strategic way, coordinating its expansion and its legal defense at the same time.  But those efforts could be foiled due to the legal entanglements a smaller but similar service in California is involved in. Depending on the outcome of deliberations in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California, Aereo could find itself headed to the Supreme Court. 

Aereo, which leases out tiny HDTV antennas and uses them to stream live, over-the-air network television broadcasts via the Internet, spent a fair amount of time in court defending itself before it was handed a legal victory by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Since receiving the courts blessing, Aereo has slowly but steadily expanded beyond NYC into Boston and Atlanta, and is set to start operations in Chicago next month

Meanwhile, broadcast networks including Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS are going after a much smaller, Beverly Hills-based company which now goes by the name FilmOn  (the company’s name for its service was Aereokiller). The company, which provides essentially the same service as Aereo, was shut down in January 2012 by a federal court in Los Angeles in response to Fox’s request for an injunction. Judge George Wu of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that the service infringed on broadcasters’ copyrights. Today, FilmOn’s legal team gathered before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Pasadena to square off with the big broadcast networks.

If the judge decides to uphold Fox’s earlier victory, it will have ruled in contradiction to the decision made by the appeals court in New York on what is essentially the same technology. If that happens, the issue could very well be taken to the Supreme Court, and Aereo along with it.

At the heart of the legal matter is the interpretation of the public performance clause of the Copyright Act of 1976. Aereo’s lawyers maintain that the company’s service amounts to a private performance. Networks consider it a rebroadcasting, and therefore a public performance. But it could be argued that this really comes down to re-transmission fees, which Aereo doesn’t pay. If Aereo can lure away enough cable and satellite subscribers, it will have a real impact on broadcaster revenue. 

Before Aereo gets too wrapped up with preparing for a Supreme Court battle, it will need to take care of unfinished business in New York. Its early victory there simply kept it from being shut down. Aereo’s request that the case be dismissed entirely has not yet been decided on.

Editors' Recommendations

Caleb Denison
Digital Trends Editor at Large Caleb Denison is a sought-after writer, speaker, and television correspondent with unmatched…
5 early Amazon Labor Day deals you can’t afford to miss today
amazon fire tv stick 4k bissell ev675 apple airpods pro ipad mini razer blade 15 deals labor day sale 2020 01 1200x9999

If you're looking into saving big on some of the latest tech, we've got excellent news for you: Amazon has kicked off some early Labor Day sales on must-have hardware, including the Amazon Fire TV 4K Stick, Bissell EV675 Robot Vacuum, Apple AirPods Pro, Apple iPad Mini, and Razer Blade 15. Save up to $400 when you get them today.

Amazon Fire TV 4K Stick
– $40, was $50

Read more
5 Apple deals you can’t afford to miss this side of Labor Day
apple macbook air pro deals amazon summer sale 2020 09 2 720x720

Labor Day sales are heating up and if you're looking into getting the Apple device of your dreams on the cheap, now's the best time. Amazon is offering the AirPods, AirPods Pro, Apple Watch Series 3, iPad Mini, and MacBook Air starting from just $130. Better act fast though as we're pretty sure these deals will soon be gone.

Apple AirPods
— $130, was $159

Read more
3 Bluetooth speaker deals you can’t afford to miss today
sony srs xb12 jbl flip 5 marshall stockwell ii bluetooth speaker deals best buy summer sale 2020 720x720

A portable Bluetooth speaker represents the cheapest way to upgrade the sound of your phone. They also allow you to take any party outdoors thanks to their ruggedness and extreme portability. Not all are created equal, though, but we're sure you'll be able to find a Bluetooth speaker with a set of features that will perfectly fit your needs and budget. Below are the Sony SRS-XB12, JBL Flip 5, and Marshall Stockwell II. All three are on sale at Best Buy starting from just $40. Read on to peruse which one suits you best.
Sony SRS-XB12 – $40, was $60

The Sony SRS-XB12 is proof that a tiny portable speaker can have it all: Great sound, fully waterproof housing, and best of all, affordability. At just $40 at Best Buy (down from the usual $60), this Bluetooth speaker may be cheap, but that doesn't mean it performs cheap. Weighing in at a mere 8.6 ounces and measuring roughly 3.7 x 3.0 inches, this speaker is small enough to fit inside a tote bag or even an oversized coat pocket. A metallic grille protects a single 46mm driver which is responsible for the killer audio. It can go surprisingly loud without any noticeable distortions, with a bass that packs plenty of punch. Of course, it doesn't compare to any large speaker with an actual subwoofer, but it's good nonetheless. Finally, the SRS-XB12's IP67 rating is pretty rare for a speaker at this price point. It's fully waterproof, provided the cover protecting the ports is closed. The Sony SRS-XB12 will make you forget that you're listening to a really small speaker. Get it for just $40 at Best Buy.

Read more