It appears as if Aereo is tired of being on the defensive. In a complaint filed in a U.S. District Court in New York, the embattled Internet streaming service has sought a declaratory judgment that its technology, which allows its customers to stream free, over-the-air broadcast TV via the net on their computers and other devices, does not infringe broadcasters’ copyrights.
Here’s a quick recap of the Internet streaming saga if you haven’t been following along:
In recent years, the broadcast television networks (i.e. Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC Universal) have fought in court to prevent services like Aereo from streaming what they assert is their protected television content over the net to paying subscribers without consent from copyright owners. On April 3, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision denying the networks’ request for a preliminary injunction against Aereo’s service. Plaintiffs in that case since have filed a petition for a rehearing en banc. Meanwhile, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is set to decide whether to uphold a lower court decision that granted plaintiffs’ request for preliminary injunction against a similar streaming service.
The jurisdictional split is pivotal: As a result of its Second Circuit victory, Aereo CEO Barry Diller announced that by May 15, the company would expand to Boston, located in the First Circuit, a jurisdiction that has yet to rule on the legality of the business’ operations. Clearly, the firm sought a declaratory judgment so it has a legal shield for its service in the First Circuit and beyond (see image above) before the broadcast networks file more of their own copyright infringement suits nationwide. Aereo said it filed its suit partly in response to statements by CBS executives, including some made via Twitter, that they would sue the business in every jurisdiction it expanded into: