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Aereo throws punch in streaming battle by publishing ad in NYT

The upstart live-TV streaming service continues its fight with U.S. broadcasters by taking out a full-page ad saying it is complying with U.S. copyright law.

Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia.
Greg Sandoval/CNET

Live-television streaming service Aereo is revving up its fight against major U.S. broadcasters.

The company took out a full-page ad in the front section of The New York Times on Tuesday, making a case as to why its business isn't breaking copyright law.

"People have enjoyed the right to access over-the-air broadcast television using an antenna for over 70 years," the ad says. "About 54 million Americans use some sort of antenna to watch TV. This is not piracy. This has been part of the American way since the beginning of broadcasting."

Aereo is currently in the middle of a heated court battle with Fox, NBC, ABC, and CBS (the parent company of CNET) over the right to stream broadcast TV without paying retransmission fees.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court in New York upheld a lower court ruling in favor of Aereo, which uses tiny antennas to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals that it then streams to subscribers' Internet-connected devices. Initially, the broadcasters filed two lawsuits against Aereo in March of last year for infringing on their copyrights by streaming their broadcast content without paying.

Fox announced last week that it was considering alternative ways to monetize its television content in the face of Aereo's service, including cutting off broadcast signals in favor of a subscription-only model. CBS quickly followed suit.

Aereo maintains that customers actually own the antenna, meaning Aereo is not responsible for paying the retransmission fee to the broadcast networks.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Aereo took out its ad in The New York Times the same day that Fox filed its appeal to the court ruling from earlier this month.

The streaming service is currently available only in the New York metropolitan area, but the company has plans to expand to nearly two dozen cities this year. It also has reportedly been in talks with AT&T and Dish Network for a possible partnership to pair the upstart's video service with broadband or wireless data subscriptions.

When contacted by CNET, Aereo declined to comment further on the ad.