TV Broadcasters Petition for En Banc Review of Aereo Ruling
Major New York broadcasters eager to shut down streaming television service Aereo have petitioned [PDF] the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for an en banc review of a ruling that upheld a lower court decision denying an injunction against the broadcasting startup.
The broadcasters, which include WNET, Fox Television Stations, Univision, and the Public Broadcasting Service, were disappointed in the Second Circuits 2-1 decision two weeks ago in which they agreed with Aereos argument that its service does not offer a public performance and is therefore not infringing copyrights. They relied on a 2008 Second Circuit decision that backed Cablevisions offering of a remote DVR and noted that Aereo made a separate copy of the requested programming for each subscriber.
That erroneous analysis has now spawned an obviously incorrect decision that threatens to cause massive disruption to the television industry, and will adversely impact the publics access to the quality and diversity of programming available through broadcast television, the broadcasters said in their petition, written by a team of attorneys from Jenner & Block.
The appellate court decision included a strong dissent by Judge Denny Chin, who called Aereos system a Rube Goldberg-like contrivance, over-engineered in an attempt to avoid the reach of the Copyright Act and to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the law. This has given the broadcasters hope that a rehearing before the full body of judges might result in a reversal of the lower courts decision.
The courts are split on the issue, as a federal court in California earlier this year shut down a streaming system that resembles Aereos because of copyright issues. The case could therefore find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a statement, the broadcasters said the petition for an en banc hearing, is an important next step in ensuring the protection of our copyrighted material.
Since the appellate court ruling, several broadcasting companies, including News Corp. (owner of Fox), CBS, and Univision have threatened to turn their over-the-air networks into cable-only channels. Aereo currently only broadcasts networks that transmit their programming via airwaves.
Also, Hollywood heavyweights, including Paramount Pictures Corp., Warner Bros., Directors Guild of America Inc., and Metro-Goldwyn Mayer on Monday filed an amicus brief in support of the broadcasters petition for a rehearing en banc.