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Aereo Loses Legal Fight in Utah District Court

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Streaming video service Aereo has been on a roll with legal victories, but that roll has come to an end. A ruling by the U.S. District Court in Utah means that Aereo will have to cease operations in Utah and Colorado. Broadcasters led by Fox charge that Aereo violates copyrights by capturing and streaming over-the-air broadcast content. Aereo has been controversial since it first launched, since it threatens the hefty retransmission fees that cable and satellite companies pay broadcast networks to stream their programming.

Aereo is careful to use individual antennae for each subscriber to avoid violating copyright prohibitions against public performances. In his ruling, Judge Dale Kimball of the District Court in Utah didn't buy the defense.

"Despite its attempt to design a device or process outside the scope of the 1976 Copyright Act, Aereo's device or process transmits Plaintiffs' copyrighted programs to the public," Kimball wrote.

"This is a significant win for both broadcasters and content owners," said a Fox spokesperson in a prepared statement.

All this is prelude to April, when the Supreme Court will hear arguments about the legality of Aereo and hopefully make a definitive ruling. If Aereo wins that case, it could greatly change the economics of television broadcasting, perhaps pushing some over-the-air channels to become pay TV channels.

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