Score Round 1 to Barry Diller. A federal judge in New York Wednesday denied broadcasters' request for a preliminary injunction against Aereo, a new pay TV service backed by the famed media mogul.
Backed by Diller's IAC, Aereo—which delivers broadcast TV stations via the Internet—launched March 14 in New York and currently has 3,500 users. The service uses an array of tiny antenna the size of a dime to pick up local TV station signals and deliver them over the Internet to consumer devices.
New York broadcast owners charged that Aereo was in violation of their copyright and filed suit against the service two weeks before it launched.
But the judge rejected broadcasters' pleas to halt the service, concluding that their business would endure Aereo's presence, but that an injunction would "quickly mean the end of Aereo as a business," wrote U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan.
"Although [broadcasters] have demonstrated they face irreparable harm, they have not demonstrated that the balance of hardships decidedly tips in their favor," Judge Nathan concluded.
Aereo chalked up the win as nothing less than David and Goliath. "Today's decision shows that when you are on the right side of the law, you can stand up, fight the Goliath and win," said Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia. "This isn't just a win for Aereo; it's also a significant win for consumers who are demanding more choice and flexibility in the way they watch television."
Broadcasters aren't giving up; in fact they quickly filed an appeal Thursday morning. In a joint statement, Fox Networks Group, Tribune Co., PBS, Univision and WNET said, "Today's decision is a loss for the entire creative community. The judge has denied our request for preliminary relief, ruling that it is OK to misappropriate copyrighted material and retransmit it without compensation. While we are disappointed, we will continue to fight to protect our copyrights and expect to prevail on appeal."