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Aereo files complaint against CBS to stop more lawsuits

The TV streaming service wants the court to block any further lawsuit attempts from CBS.

Aereo has gotten into trouble with CBS and other networks over its live TV streaming.
Aereo has gotten into trouble with CBS and other networks over its live TV streaming.
John Falcone/CNET

Aereo is trying to cut CBS off at the legal pass.

The TV streaming service has filed a complaint against CBS (CNET's parent company), to prevent it from filing yet another lawsuit against it. Aereo allows people to watch and record live network broadcasts via the Web, a feature that has gotten it into trouble with CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC. The networks have argued that Aereo's $12-per-month service is illegal because it distributes their shows without compensating them in return.

Both sides have been battling it out in court, and so far the rulings have favored Aereo. Last year, CBS and the other networks filed copyright suits against Aereo in federal court in New York. The trial court denied the request by the networks for a preliminary injunction against the company. Last month, the appeals court affirmed that decision.

But CBS has vowed to file another suit as Aereo gears up to launch in Boston. A tweet posted on April 23 by CBS spokesman Dana McClintock promises that "we will sue, and stealing our signal will be found to be illegal in Boston, just as it will be everywhere else."

Aereo wants the court to stop that suit before it happens.

"In response to the CBS companies' repeated threats to sue Aereo in every market that it enters, Aereo today filed a declaratory judgment action in New York naming CBS, its Boston affiliates, and its wholly owned and operated companies located in Aereo's initial expansion markets," Aereo spokeswoman Virginia Lam said in a statement sent to CNET. "The fact that CBS did not prevail in their efforts to enjoin Aereo in their existing federal lawsuit does not entitle them to a do-over in another jurisdiction. We are hopeful that any such efforts to commence duplicative lawsuits to try to seek a different outcome will be rejected by the courts."

CBS, though, stands by its position that Aereo's service is illegal.

"These public relations and legal maneuvers do not change the fundamentally illegal nature of Aereo's supposed business," McClintock said in a statement sent to CNET. "The issue of unauthorized streaming of copyrighted television programming is now being contested in the 2nd Circuit and the 9th Circuit, and wherever Aereo attempts to operate there will be vigorous challenges to its illegal business model."

Updated 9:30 a.m. PT with response from CBS.