Aereo Open to Supreme Court Bout With Broadcasters

Online streaming service won't oppose a petition brought by CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox for copyright infringement

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Jin Lee / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Chet Kanojia, chief executive officer and founder of Aereo Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, July 31, 2013.

Television streaming service Aereo has a message for the broadcasters looking to sue it at the Supreme Court: Let’s do this thing.

Aereo’s Founder and CEO Chet Kanojia said in a statement Thursday that he won’t oppose a petition brought by CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox to shut down the company for copyright infringement.

(MOREDisruptive TV Startup Aereo Is Winning in Court)

“We have decided to not oppose the broadcasters’ petition for certiorari before the United States Supreme Court,” said Kanojia. “While the law is clear and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and two different federal courts have ruled in favor of Aereo, broadcasters appear determined to keep litigating the same issues against Aereo in every jurisdiction that we enter.”

Aereo works by granting paying subscribers access to over-the-air-broadcast television content via individual antennae and DVR-style equipment. Once Aereo started to take off, broadcasters cried foul, arguing Aereo was profiting from copyrighted content. Aereo, however, maintains that its service is using broadcasters’ content legally.

The dispute quickly entered the courts, sparking a legal battle that parallels similar incumbent-against-disruptor struggles across the country. In a case heard at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York earlier this year, broadcasters argued Aereo’s transmissions were “public performances” of their copyrighted material, and thus should be shut down. The court, however, decided 2-1 in favor of Aereo. The broadcasters, far from satisfied, soon appealed to the Supreme Court, which hasn’t yet decided to take the case.

Despite Aereo now removing any objections, there’s no guarantee that it will do so. If the Supreme Court decides to pass, it’s possible that broadcasters will continue their legal fight against Aereo in lower courts around the country as the service continues to enter new markets.

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