Today Aereo scored a major victory when a U.S. Appeals Court ruled there is nothing illegal about the way the service delivers live streaming TV to the iPad, iPhone, Roku and computers.
The case against Aereo came from ABC, FOX and other network TV stations. The networks claimed Aereo’s TV streaming service should count as “public performances” of the TV shows that users watched. The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, however, that Aereo’s service is in no way illegal, meaning it can continue to offer its service without fear of infringing copyright laws.
The court ruled in favor of Aereo because of how the service works. Aereo essentially lets users subscribe to access of a rooftop antenna. The service streams the content that antenna receives to the user, and only one user can use each antenna at a time. Judge Christopher Droney said that Aereo’s service is no different from a user installing their own antenna.
Aereo’s opponents such as the National Association of Broadcasters and CBS are no happy with the outcome of the court case, as they still view the service as illegal according to The Verge. It’s not clear if they will try to appeal to a higher court, however.
Naturally, Aereo was happy with the ruling. In a press release Aereo CEO Chet Kanjia said the ruling
“sends a powerful message that consumer access to free-to-air broadcast television is still meaningful in this country and that the promise and commitment made by the broadcasters to program in the public interest in exchange for the public’s spectrum, remains an important part of our American fabric.”
The news of the ruling comes shortly after a Wall Street Journal story that claimed Aereo is in talks with TV distributors like Dish Network and ISPs to further expand its service. The service currently works in just a handful of cities after its recent expansion.
The legal threats Aereo owns may make expansion hard, however. Today’s ruling is a boon for the startup, but expansion may come slowly.