Broadcasters asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C., to block Alki David's Aereokiller, also known as FilmOn, from operating there. The move could hurt Aereo, the Barry Diller- backed service which allows customers to lease small, remote TV antennas and DVRs to watch over-the-air TV shows online.
In response, FilmOn and Aereokiller stopped carrying major broadcast network-affiliated stations in that market and may drop them across the country, Deadline.com reported David saying in an open letter to broadcasters.
CBS (NYSE: CBS), News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWSA) Fox, Comcast's (Nasdaq: CMCSA) NBC, Allbritton and Walt Disney Co.'s (NYSE: DIS) ABC filed a joint complaint in a Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court, saying Aereokiller's service uses their TV station signals without authorization and violates copyright law. They said they filed the complaint after a judge in California declined to put a nationwide ban on Aereokiller's service. Instead, that court barred Aereokiller from operating in the 9th Circuit states--a decision currently being appealed by Aereokiller.
Aereo's legal victories in the Southern District of New York and the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals prevented the California federal judge from issuing a national ban on Aereokiller. The broadcasters appealed and lost a ruling that would have blocked Aereo from operating while a trial over its legality is conducted. That loss required them to file a separate suit against Aereokiller in the D.C. Circuit, the complaint said.
"The district court in California already has held that this conduct is infringing and causes immediate and irreparable harm in a variety of ways," the complaint said. "Plaintiffs ask this court to reach the same conclusion" and block Aereokiller.
A favorable ruling for broadcasters could prevent Aereo from expanding to Washington, D.C., the eighth-largest market according to Nielsen.
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Article updated May 29 to include new information on the status of Aereokiller's operations.