UPDATE, 5:10 PM: As it has from the beginning back in 2012, the latest legal battle between the broadcasters and Aereo comes down to whether the streaming service is engaging in a private or public performance. Aereo says the former and the broadcasters say the latter, and today a federal judge in Utah agreed with the broadcasters and shut the service down in six states as the two sides prepare to fight it out in front of the Supreme Court in late April. Unsurprisingly, Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia is “disappointed” with today’s developments. Read the statement he provided Deadline here:
We are extremely disappointed that the District Court in Utah has chosen to take a different path than every other Court that has reviewed the Aereo technology. Consumers have a fundamental right to watch over the air broadcast television via an antenna and to record copies for their personal use. The Copyright Act provides no justification to curtail that right simply because the consumer is using modern, remotely located equipment. We are very sorry for the effect on our valued customers in the Tenth Circuit and we will pursue all available remedies to restore their ability to use Aereo.
PREVIOUS, 1:41 PM: It might not be the Supreme Court, but the broadcasters scored a big victory today in their ongoing battle against Aereo. After a hearing on February 11, a federal judge in Utah has hit the Barry Diller-backed streaming service with its biggest legal blow yet and granted a preliminary injunction to stop the growing service from operating in six states while the case proceeds. Or rather, until SCOTUS make its call. “Upon this court’s entry of Plaintiffs’ requested preliminary injunctions, this matter is stayed pending the Supreme Court’s decision in ABC v. Aereo,” Judge Dale Kimball wrote today in a 26-page decision (read it here).The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on April 22in another case brought against Aereo by broadcasters. Still, today’s victory was not unnoticed by the networks as they head toward the SCOTUS date. “This is a significant win for both broadcasters and content owners,” a Fox spokesman said in a statement after the order became public. “We are very pleased that the U.S. District Court in Utah has granted our request for a preliminary injunction. This injunction will prohibit Aereo from stealing our broadcast signal in Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Montan.” The Utah suit was first filed in October. Next stop, Washington D.C.