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aereoJust two weeks after Seattle startup Ivi lost an important chance to propel its case forward, another startup with deeper pockets is moving ahead with its plans to transform the TV industry as we know it.

Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed startup, just won an important decision in the federal court of appeals. In a 2 to 1 vote, the appeals court for the second circuit rejected a preliminary injunction by several big media companies (including ABC, Disney, CBS and others) to have Aereo shut down, reports All Things D (which has a copy of the order).

Writes Peter Kafka of All Things D:

The ruling doesn’t mean Aereo’s court battles are over by any stretch, but it is another win for a company that knew from the outset that it would spend a lot of time and money on lawyers. Aereo is specifically designed to fit a legal precedent established by Cablevision, the cable TV company that won the right to create a “cloud-based” DVR for its customers a few years ago. So far that plan seems to be working.

Seattle’s Ivi was attempting to make a similar case for its service, which rebroadcast TV programming over the Internet for a small monthly fee. A federal judge ordered the company to curtail its live, streaming TV service in 2011, and last month the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Ivi was facing off against some of the same big media companies as Aereo.

Ivi said at the time:

TV is broken and stifling innovation isn’t going to fix it.  There’s too much at stake to allow copyright conglomerates to ruin the opportunity to gracefully innovate to new business models rather than facing utter demise. Did they learn nothing from the music industry? This is why the FCC must step up and take action.

Aereo appears to be having a little more luck in the courts than Ivi. Here’s the conclusion from the court of appeals ruling:


The advocacy group, Public Knowledge, hailed the Aereo victory. John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney for the group, which had filed an amicus brief on behalf of Ivi in its case, issued this statement:

“Legal technicalities aside, however, the Court began its analysis with the right perspective: that of the viewer.  As it wrote, ‘Aereo’s system … provides the functionality of three devices: a standard TV antenna, a DVR, and a Slingbox-like device.’ Each of these devices is legal, so it stands to reason that a service that combines them is also legal.  Only in the the world of copyright maximalists do people need to get special permission to watch over-the-air television with an antenna. Just because ‘the Internet’ is involved doesn’t change this.

It is likely that the broadcasters will try to overturn this decision in the courts or Congress. But Public Knowledge will continue to argue that any change to the telecommunications and copyright laws that govern the video marketplace should be in a direction that better serves the needs of viewers and not broadcasters or other intermediaries.”

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