Aereo just hit a snag in its quest to provide consumers with take-anywhere television. While the startup is still awaiting to argue its case in front of the Supreme Court this April, a Utah judge in the U.S. District Court has issued a preliminary ban on its services in the state and the rest of the 10th circuit.
That means subscribers in Denver and Salt Lake City—the only two areas in the region where Aereo operates—are out of luck. And the same goes for prospective states like Wyoming, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. According to the preliminary injunction (courtesy of Ars Technica), Utah's Judge Dale A. Kimball ruled that Aereo's tiny, individual antennas that retransmit network broadcasts over the Internet—which Aereo subscribers rent out for a fee—violate copyright. Aereo, he argues, should not be exempted from paying TV networks "retransmission fees," like cable providers currently do. Writes Kimball:
Plaintiffs have amply demonstrated that Aereo's infringing activities threaten to impair Plaintiffs' control over its copyrighted programs, threaten Plaintiffs’ goodwill and business reputation and relationships, cause Plaintiffs to lose business and standing in the marketplace, and subject Plaintiffs’ copyrighted work to viral infringement and piracy.
Aereo is optimistic that its streaming technology will eventually win out, and its core mission has even inspired a young crop of competitors. "We look forward to presenting our case to the Supreme Court and we have every confidence that the Court will validate and preserve a consumer’s right to access local over-the-air television with an individual antenna, make a personal recording with a DVR, and watch that recording on a device of their choice," Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia said back in January. "This case is critically important not only to Aereo, but to the entire cloud computing and cloud storage industry."
[Image: Flickr user João Paulo Corrêa de Carvalho]