The fight over Aereo is moving to Utah.
On Monday afternoon, Fox Broadcasting Co., Sinclair Broadcast Group and Local TV filed suit in federal court in Utah against Aereo, the start-up company that streams broadcast TV signals to consumers via the Internet.
Broadcasters have already challenged Aereo on copyright violation in New York and Boston. This suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Utah, where Aereo recently launched its service, makes similar allegations.
Aereo, whose financial backers include media mogul Barry Diller, provides access to broadcast TV signals via smartphones, tablets and Internet-friendly TVs. For a fee, Aereo subscribers get a tiny 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.
Broadcasters fear that if Aereo takes off, it could undercut revenue they receive from pay-TV distributors.
The plaintiffs, via a Fox spokesman, said of Monday’s suit that “no amount of technological gimmickry by Aereo changes the fundamental principle of law that those who wish to retransmit copyrighted broadcasts may do so only with the copyright owners’ authority.”
[Updated at 5:24 p.m. Oct. 7: Aereo spokeswoman Virginia Lam responds, “All this meritless suit amounts to is forum shopping and we are hopeful that any such efforts to commence duplicative lawsuits to try to seek a different outcome will be rejected by the courts.”
In New York, a panel of judges for the 2nd Circuit ruled that Aereo did not violate copyright law. The broadcasters -- including Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC -- then petitioned to have that decision reviewed by the full court but the en banc request was denied.
With regards to New York, Fox has previously said it would review its options and “determine the appropriate course of action, which include seeking a hearing in the U.S. Supreme Court and proceeding to a full trial on the merits of the case.”
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