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“TV anywhere” startup Aereo is doing its best to stave off attacks that its business is operating illegally, and it has now asked a federal court in New York to block broadcast network CBS from filing additional lawsuits.
Aereo provides a service that enables people to watch and record the free over-the-air local television content online via desktops, computers, set-top boxes, and mobile devices. It does this by providing tiny antennae for each subscriber, thus making the service legal in the eyes of at least East Coast federal judges so far. But major broadcast stations like Fox, ABC, and yes, CBS are arguing that Aereo should have to pay a licensing fee for repurposing that content. And those broadcasters have filed several lawsuits to stop the startup from operating.
Right now Aereo is only in a handful of markets, but broadcasters like CBS have vowed to continue suing in each of the new cities Aereo plans to launch in. That’s what’s behind Aereo’s move to ask the New York federal court to stop CBS and others from filing more lawsuits.
The broadcasters are so spooked with the thought of Aereo’s continued existence that both Fox and CBS have threatened to take their programing off the air and transform themselves into cable networks. CBS has even made investments in startups that can mimic Aereo’s functionality.
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