Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Fox Threatens to Leave Network TV in Protest over Aereo Lawsuit

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Fox Threatens to Leave Network TV in Protest over Aereo Lawsuit

Article excerpt

A US Court of Appeals delivered a blow to TV networks in their case against online start-up Aereo. In what was viewed as a major win for the small company, the court ruled that Aereo may continue to stream broadcast TV shows via the Internet. Such transmissions do not constitute as "public performances" of copyrighted work, much to the chagrin of television networks like Fox.

The New York-based start-up came up with a clever end run around normal copyright laws. Aereo has hundreds on TV antennas in New York, each picking up broadcast TV and posting live feeds to the Internet. Aereo subscribers are then assigned to two antennas, one for recording (like TiVo) and one for streaming, which they may tap into from any computer, but will not be shared with anyone else.

The television networks's battle with Aereo deals with the idea of re-transmission. When networks sell their programming to services like Hulu, the Web company pays the networks a re-transmission fee. Aereo, however, does not pay re-transmission fees. The idea is that consumers with antennas do not normally pay for the programming; Aereo is simply extending the reach of people's antennas to a place outside of their homes and allowing the same families to view the free programming.

When Aereo began to gain traction, Fox, CBS, ABC, and other networks sued.

The court filing states: "No amount of technological gimmickey by Aereo - or claims that it is simply providing a set of sophisticated 'rabbit ears' -- changes the fundamental principle of copyright law...."

Earlier, the courts dismissed a motion to have an injunction on the star- up. After the motion was dismissed, Fox indicated that it would consider shutting its doors to broadcast signals and switch to a subscription-only business model.

"While advertising was once the life's blood for broadcast TV, over the last few years, cable and satellite operator retransmission fees has become vital to their business," writes ZDNet's Steven J. …

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