A federal judge in Boston said he will decide by the end of September whether to issue an injunction sought by TV station WCVB-TV against Aereo Inc., a company that retransmits WCVB programming over the Internet without permission. But US District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said he was predisposed to deny the TV station’s request.
Attorney James Smeallie, representing Hearst Stations Inc., which owns WCVB Channel 5, argued that Aereo is “freeloading” by transmitting the station’s shows without paying retransmission fees. But R. David Hosp, representing Aereo, said consumers have a right to use Aereo’s technology to make personal copies of the broadcasts, in the same way they have a right to use a digital video recorder in their homes.
Aereo is already facing a federal lawsuit in New York filed by major broadcasting networks. Some network executives have said that if that Aereo’s business model is held to be legal, cable companies could refuse to pay retransmission fees as well, costing the networks billions in revenues. Two networks, CBS and Fox, have threatened to halt over-the-air broadcasts and offer their shows only via cable and satellite systems if Aereo wins.
Hiawatha Bray can be reached at email@example.com.