The US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York has drawn to a close the action taken against online entertainment service Aereo, with Fox, one of the parties to the action, suggesting it may pursue the matter in a higher court.
In April, a panel of judges for the 2nd Circuit ruled that Aereo did not violate copyright law. The broadcasters – including Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC – subsequently petitioned to have that decision reviewed by the full court. Their ‘en banc’ request has now been denied.
“The Second Circuit’s denial of our request for an ‘en banc’ hearing, while disappointing was not unexpected,” commented a Fox spokesman. “We will now review our options and determine the appropriate course of action, which include seeking a hearing in the US Supreme Court and proceeding to a full trial on the merits of the case,” he stated.
Boston’s WCVB-TV has filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Boston, alleging that Aereo is violating federal copyright law by rebroadcasting the station’s Channel 5’s programming without permission. “Aereo’s business and technology stand in violation of, and threaten to undermine, the carefully balanced statutory and regulatory scheme set up for the broadcast industry,” says the complaint. Boston became Aereo’s second market after New York mid-May.
The April New York court decision permitted the company to continue operating until the copyright dispute is resolved.
“This decision comes as no surprise and all industry lawsuits against Aereo and similar services that steal our content are going forward as planned,” said CBS.
For its part, Aereo in early May filed a lawsuit designed to prevent future lawsuits from CBS. After Aereo announced that it would launch in Boston May 15, CBS executives said they planned to file a new lawsuit in the federal district court for Massachusetts. Aereo’s pre-emptive filing contended that the broadcasters could not seek a ‘do-over’ in fresh courts.
“It is not proper for parties to attempt to re-litigate claims that are pending, let alone already decided. Among other reasons, it would be highly inefficient and a waste of judicial resources,” said the filing.
“These public relations and legal maneuvers do not change the fundamentally illegal nature of Aereo’s supposed business,” CBS responded, noting that the issue of unauthorised streaming of copyrighted television programming was now being contested in the Second Circuit and the ninth Circuit, warning that “wherever Aereo attempts to operate there will be vigorous challenges to its illegal business model.”