Judge allows Aereo to keep streaming service open

Aereo, which has been streaming a broadcast TV to New York subscribers, has had a victory in court, with a judge refusing to grant a preliminary injunction shutting the service down.

Almost immediately after the service launched this year, the company was sued for copyright infringement by ABC, CBS, NBCUniversal, Telemundo, Fox, Univision and PBS.

But yesterday, US District Judge Alison Nathan said that while the broadcasters had deminstrated they’d suffer financial loss of the service continued, Aero itself would suffer severe harm – probably enough to kill the business off altogether.

She also drew a parallel with a 2008 case in which an appeals court ruled that Cablevision should be allowed to offer customers a remote DVR.

“Faithful application of Cablevision requires the conclusion that Plaintiffs are unlikely to succeed on the merits of their public performance claim,” she said.

“The overall factual similarity of Aereo’s service to Cablevision… suggests that Aereo’s service falls within the core of what Cablevision held lawful.”

Aero has been arguing that it doesn’t have to abide by restrictions on the retransmission of content, because customers get their own, personal antenna. It’s perfectly legal to access broadcasts via an antenna, and to record television for personal use, it says.

And this argument appears to be carrying some weight with the judge:

 “Iin light of this Court’s factual determination that each antenna functions independently, in at least one respect, the Aereo system is a stronger case than Cablevision,” she said.

Aero is making much of the decision.

“Today’s decision shows that when you are on the right side of the law, you can stand up, fight the Goliath and win,” says CEO and founder Chet Kanojia.

“This isn’t just a win for Aereo, it’s also a significant win for consumers who are demanding more choice and flexibility in the way they watch television. We said from the start that we believed that a full and fair airing of the issues would reveal that Aereo’s groundbreaking technology falls squarely within the law.”