Few had heard about Aereo Inc. before a legal dispute involving the small startup and Fox pushed Rupert Murdoch’s network to consider becoming a cable channel.
Aereo Inc. transmits broadcast signals for free using tiny antennas and shares them with subscribers on the Internet, AP reports. Fox argues that the service is “stealing” its signal and is demanding compensation for its content.
So far, the federal appeals court ruled in Aereo’s favor by allowing the startup to continue its service.
But this isn’t Aereo’s first legal dispute.
In August, an even more obscure copycat service named AereoKiller that worked off the domain name BarryDiller.com -- the name of the media mogul who founded Aereo -- was sued by the billionaire for the name similarity. Diller won, and the service was ordered to shut down in the 9th Circuit Court, which covers most of the West Coast, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The news outlet points out that the AereoKiller dispute has the potential to create more legal problems in the ongoing dispute between Fox and Aereo.
Even though the court backed Aereo this time, if the service wants to expand westward, precedent from the AereoKiller case might prevent it from doing so.
Alki David, the billionaire who launched AereoKiller last year, has been in the livestreaming business for years.
In 2006 he started FilmOn, an Internet service that claims to be the "world's largest free provider of Internet television" that carries 200 live TV channels, Digital Spy reports. And although David and Diller continue to spar in the courtroom, the appeal court’s decision on Aereo is good news all around.
"I would like to thank Aereo and their legal team for supporting our common cause,” David said in a statement, adding that his company will continue its legal fight against “old media's anticompetitive tactics and in favor of consumer rights in new media."
The Internet TV industry in general poses a host of new problems over copyright infringement.
One of the first cases came from Canada, where iCraveTV, an Internet service founded in 1999 that streamed television, was shut down the following year after a U.S. judge said the service violated copyright laws.