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In a seeming about-turn from its previous position, US telecoms and media company Cablevision is putting its support behind major US broadcast networks in their attempts to stop online television start-up Aereo from broadcasting TV programming over the Internet.
Cablevision had been the subject of an action from companies such as Disney and News Corp for creating a remote-storage digital video recorder that allows consumers to record programmes on remote servers.
It has now filed a brief saying that the district court’s ruling in July to allow Aereo to continue operating should be reversed. US District Judge Alison Nathan July 11 denied a motion from the broadcasters to shut Aereo down immediately. Although she recognised that the broadcasters were likely to suffer “irreparable harm” should Aereo continue to operate, she concluded that based on the legal precedent, the broadcasters were not likely to win their case, and that it would be inappropriate to grant their motion. She said Aereo’s service was similar to Cablevision’s remote video recording system, which a federal appeals court ruled did not violate copyright law in a 2008 case.
A number of broadcasters such as Walt Disney’s ABC, CBS, Comcast’s NBCUniversal, Telemundo, News Corp’s Fox, Univision Communications and the Public Broadcasting Service had filed lawsuits accusing Aereo of copyright violations prior to the service’s March launch in the New York City area.
Cablevision contends that Aereo did not obtain permission from broadcasters or pay licensing fees to rebroadcast their programming, which it describes as a “critical legal difference” from its own situation,where it pays such fees.