Once again the Aereo legal roller coaster has whipped up after a steep downward turn. Less than a week after being slapped with a 6-state injunction, the Barry Diller-backed streaming service today has won a 14-day reprieve – a move that will not please broadcasters who thought they’d scored their biggest legal win yet over Aereo. “The court also recognizes that harms are accruing to Plaintiffs every day and enforcement of the copyright laws is a clear public benefit to the public as a whole,” said District Judge Dale Kimball in his decision (read it here) that also denies Aereo a stay pending appeal. The judge also ordered the broadcaster plaintiffs to post a $150,000 bond before any injunction could even start. Of course it is less than two months before Aereo and the broadcasters will be arguing their greater respective case, so to speak, in front on the Supreme Court on April 22 when the battle could reach its climax or just another sharp corner.
In the meantime, Aereo has a new life in Utah and surrounding states. “The court, however, finds some benefit in allowing Aereo’s customers uninterrupted service pending the Tenth Circuit’s decision on an emergency motion to stay. Therefore, notwithstanding the many factors weighing against a stay, the court, in its discretion, grants Aereo a temporary 14-day stay,” Kimball’s move keeps Aereo going in Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Montana while the company pursues the 10th Circuit for regional salvation.
“A temporary stay focuses on the status quo, which the parties sharply dispute in this case. Plaintiffs claim the status quo should be prior to Aereo beginning its infringing activities whereas Aereo contends the status quo should be considered its current operations,” says the 6-page decision. “The court agrees that upon Aereo’s entrance into the Utah market, Plaintiffs moved quickly to preserve its rights. But, there is no question that Aereo is presently in business within this Circuit, has been in business for several months, and currently has many customers.” Kimball adds.
Having debuted in NYC in 2012, Aereo launched in Utah in late August last year. Following an October 7, 2013 copyright infringement suit from Fox and CBS affiliates, Nexstar jumped into the legal fray on October 25 with the preliminary injunction that is the basis of today’s decision and last week’s legal blow against Aereo.