Utah court stops Aereo expansion in six Western states

By Daniel S Levine,

A U.S. district court judge in Utah has dealt Aereo its first court loss before the Supreme Court’s key decision on whether or not the company can continue to exist. The judge ruled Wednesday that the company cannot expand in six Western states.

Judge Dale A. Kimball of the District Court of Utah approved an injunction requested by the major broadcasters, reports CNET. In addition to Utah, the ruling covers Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

This is the first time a temporary injunction against Aereo has been approved by a judge. Aereo has previously won its court battles, including the New York-based case that the Supreme Court will hear starting in April. Aereo did get to delay the Utah case until the Supreme Court decision.

Aereo is a cheap monthly service that allows subscribers to stream over-the-air broadcasts on the web. The company has said that it is merely another tool to give consumers access to free broadcasts, but the broadcast networks have claimed that Aereo operates in a violation of copyright laws. ABC, Fox, NBC and CBS have noted that the company keeps costs down because it does not pay the high licensing fees that the cable and satellite providers pay.

“This is a significant win for both broadcasters and content owners. We are very pleased that the U.S. District Court in Utah has granted our request for a preliminary injunction,” Fox said in a statement to TheWrap.

Aereo is “very sorry for the effect on our valued customers in the Tenth Circuit and we will pursue all available remedies to restore their ability to use Aereo,” Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on April 22. While Aereo did not have any immediate plans to expand into all six Western states, the company had announced a desire to expand to Salt Lake city and Denver.

image courtesy of Aereo



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