Aereo said it will introduce an app for Android devices Oct. 22 that lets subscribers watch local TV stations online in some markets. The app will be compatible with devices running Android version 4.2 or higher, it said. Additionally, Aereo subscribers will also be able to access their recordings through a Roku box, Aereo said.
The announcement came as a federal judge in Boston denied a request by Hearst Television to block Aereo from including Hearst's local programming in its service while Hearst sues Aereo over alleged copyright violations.
Judge Nathaniel Gorton wrote that Aereo's interpretation of the "Transmit Clause" of the Copyright Act--that its service transmits private performances rather than public performances--was "a better reading of the statute" than Hearst's.
Gorton also seemed persuaded by Aereo's arguments that it can't be held liable for infringing local TV stations' copyright because its subscribers initiate each recording.
But Gorton also rejected a request by Aereo to move Hearst's lawsuit to New York, where Aereo has already won a series of legal rulings and appeals in a similar case. Aereo had asked the judge to move the case because the two are so similar and to prevent Hearst from "forum shopping" by filing the action in Boston rather than New York, where both companies are based.
Aereo seemed content with that outcome. "Today's decision... shows that when you comply not only with the letter, but the spirit of the law, justice will prevail," Aereo's CEO Chet Kanojia said in a press release.
Meanwhile, broadcasters plan to appeal ask the Supreme Court to review those New York court rulings before an Oct. 15 deadline, Variety reported. But it's unclear whether the court will take up the case. Typically the high court accepts such challenges when there are splits between various U.S. Appeals Court circuits on a matter. So far, the 2nd Circuit is the only appeals court to rule on Aereo's case, though the 9th Circuit may rule any day on a related case in California involving FilmOn X.
Even if the 9th Circuit sides with FilmOn X, a circuit split could still eventually materialize. If Hearst appeals the Boston ruling--as it has reportedly said it would do--to the 1st Circuit, it's possible judges there could reverse Gorton's decision and side with the broadcasters.
"It's worth noting that the case that underlies the Aereo legal decisions in the 2nd Circuit was appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court," BTIG Analyst Richard Greenfield wrote on the bank's blog. That case involved Cablevision's (NYSE: CVC) remote DVR technology and the Supreme Court declined to hear the TV networks' appeal at the time. "Anything can obviously happen," Greenfield wrote. "It appears to be quite a stretch to see the Supreme Court taking the case, let alone for broadcasters to win."
- Aereo issued this press release on the Android app
- Aereo issued this press release on the Boston judge's ruling
- read BTIG's blog (reg. req.)
- Variety had this report
- CNET had this report
Aereo sued in Utah
Aereo CEO Kanojia: Priority for company is 'wide-based deployment approach'
FilmOn X blocked again, muddying Aereo's legal waters