While Barry Diller was in Austin relishing a fight with broadcasters, his lawyers back in New York were busy filing a legal response to a lawsuit brought by broadcast network owners of New York's local TV stations against Aereo, an upstart pay TV service.
Diller is the lead investor in the service, which rents tiny TV antennas the size of a dime to pick up local TV stations in order to stream them on the Internet to its subscribers. Broadcasters claim that this is a violation of their public performance and reproduction rights granted under the U.S. Copyright Act.
In its counterclaim filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Aereo asserts its business is "entirely lawful," resting on three well-established legal principles.
"Consumers use the Aereo Technology to do no more than what they are entitled to do: access local television broadcasts on the public airwaves using an individual antenna; create unique copies of that broadcast content for their own personal use; and play back their unique recordings to their televisions or other viewing devices for the personal use," wrote Aereo attorney David Hosp of Goodwin Procter.
Broadcasters, including ABC, Disney, CBS, NBCUniversal, Telemundo, Univision and Fox, filed two separate suits against Aereo on March 2, asking for a permanent injunction against Aereo.
At the SXSW conference, Diller told the audience broadcasters were wrong, and that "it's going to be a great fight."