Hearst TV station uses new court ruling to press Aereo in Boston


The legal battle over Aereo took another turn last week after a judge in the District of Columbia issued a nationwide injunction to shut down FilmOn X, a would-be Aereo competitor.

The ruling is already having a knock-on effect: On Friday, Hearst Stations, which runs an ABC affiliate, cited the DC judge’s decision in a new filing in Boston, where the company commenced a lawsuit in July to stop Aereo.

It’s unlikely, however, that the DC ruling or the Boston filing will have any short-term effect on the legal landscape for Aereo. The streaming service, which offers TV and DVR services for $8 a month, currently has the green light to offer its service in New York but not in California and eight other western states where the eccentric billionaire behind FilmOn threw a wrench into Aereo’s plans. (Here’s a handy state-by-state map of where Aereo is legal).

While the DC injunction came as a surprise because it shut down FilmOn X across the country, the ban does not apply to Aereo and the ruling’s precedent isn’t binding outside the capital. Also, the injunction that Hearst TV is seeking is only for the Boston area, and not nationwide.

For now, the DC decision is mostly a public relations victory for the broadcasters in their campaign against Aereo. But in the longer term, the ruling will provide additional legal ammunition at the appeals court level.

As we’ve noted already, Aereo has time on its side given that any potential ruling by the Supreme Court on the copyright issue is unlikely before 2015. (A Bloomberg source, meanwhile, says broadcasters are reluctant to file a spate of suits in other parts of the country).

Meanwhile, an Aereo spokesperson says “it’s business as usual,” and the company has been proceeding apace with its expansion to new cities like Miami and offering the service for the first time to Android devices.

Here’s the new Boston filing that has highlights of the DC decision:

Aereo Boston

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