A lawsuit to stop lawsuits?
That's the latest twist in the fight between Aereo, a start-up company that streams broadcast TV signals over the Internet, and the networks trying to put it out of business.
Aereo recently announced that it would expand its service -- currently only available in New York City -- to Boston. CBS, one of the companies that has sued Aereo in New York for copyright theft, promptly said it would sue in Boston as well.
"Stealing our signal will be found to be illegal in Boston, just as it will be everywhere else," a CBS spokesman tweeted.
Aereo, whose backers include media mogul Barry Diller, provides access to broadcast TV signals via smartphones, tablets and Internet-friendly TVs. For between $8 and $12 a month, Aereo subscribers receive a miniature antenna that can pick up the signals of broadcasters. The antenna and a cloud-based digital video recorder can hold up to 40 hours of programming.
So far, Aereo's service has not been declared illegal. Last month, in a 2-1 decision, a panel of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that Aereo's transmissions and recordings of broadcast programming are not "public performances" of copyrighted material.
The ruling also said the broadcasters "have not demonstrated that they are likely to prevail on the merits on this claim in their copyright infringement action."
The networks have appealed that ruling to the full 2nd Circuit Court.
On Monday, Aereo filed a declaratory judgment action in New York federal court, seeking to stop CBS from suing in every jurisdiction where the company offers its service.
"The fact that CBS did not prevail in their efforts to enjoin Aereo in their existing federal lawsuit does not entitle them to a do-over in another jurisdiction. We are hopeful that any such efforts to commence duplicative lawsuits to try to seek a different outcome will be rejected by the courts," Aereo said.
CBS responded that "wherever Aereo attempts to operate there will be vigorous challenges to its illegal business model.”