Currently available in only seven states, Aereo streams TV over the internet for $8 a month. Unlike Hulu or Netflix which have to enter into costly negotiations and pay huge licensing fees for content, Aereo streams basic HD TV, much like you can get on an Over the Air Antenna. The company is able to skirt that expense by pulling a little old school trickery. For every customer who signs up, Aereo operates a separate HD antenna just for them. You’re essentially paying for mobility and cloud storage, the ability to watch TV on any gadget you want, anywhere you have data.
Unsurprisingly, TV networks aren’t thrilled with this business model, and you can imagine the courtroom battles taking place over who owns what, and how content can be distributed. The most recent salvo is a copyright dispute, and leading up to the trial broadcasters filed an injunction to pull the plug on Aereo.
This morning Boston Judge Nathaniel Gorton refused to grant the injunction, saying in his ruling that Aereo better resembled a DVR, and that Aereo did not resemble other services which illegally rebroadcast content. When elaborating on claims that this service was financially harming broadcasters, Judge Gorton acknowledged that Aereo could pose a long term threat to traditional distribution, but that it didn’t appear to be causing any such harm currently.
Aereo is free to continue operating leading up to the trial, and then there will be another fight to help define the boundaries of digital media and distribution. It’s clear that consumers are increasingly looking for alternatives to their current relationships with carriers and broadcasters.
Read the full court transcript after the jump.