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Aereo survives networks' bid to block program rebroadcasts

Networks had sought preliminary injunction to prevent the Barry Diller-backed service from transmitting their programs over the Internet.

Aereo's antennae for receiving broadcast TV
Matthew Moskovciak

A federal judge has denied a request by the major TV networks to prevent Aereo, the streaming service backed by Barry Diller, from rebroadcasting their programs over the Internet.

Judge Alison Nathan for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected a requested preliminary injunction today, according to a Reuters report. Nathan said that while both sides had demonstrated possible harm in the situation, the "balance of hardships" did not "decidedly" tip to broadcasters' favor.

For $12 a month, the streaming service allows subscribers to receive and record programs on any Internet-connected device over a dime-size antenna. The service -- available exclusively in New York for the time being -- takes the tiny TV antennas and connects them to the Internet.

Each Aereo subscriber uses the Web to control his or her own high-tech rabbit ears to watch over-the-air television. Over-the-air television is freely available to anyone who owns an antenna, but the broadcasters still argue that Aereo's business is illegal.

The service was hit by two complaints by the TV networks in March, one from NBC, ABC, and CBS (parent company of CNET) and the other from Fox, Univision, and PBS. The broadcasters say "no amount of technological gimmickry" changes copyright law or the fact that Aereo needs permission to distribute their shows.

Aereo quickly followed up with a countersuit against the broadcasters, claiming that Aereo does not infringe on the broadcasters' copyrights.

Diller, the chairman of IAC and former Hollywood wunderkind, argued that because customers own the antennae, Aereo doesn't owe retransmission fees to the networks.