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Aereo, disruptive TV service, banned by judge

Posting in Technology
Since Aereo launched in 2012, it's goal has been to disrupt the U.S. cable industry. The TV service allows users to watch and record live broadcast TV online for a low cost. Because each customer has its own antenna remotely located, the company has argued that the service is legal. And, for a long time, U.S. federal courts agreed, despite broadcasters continuing to fight the service for copyright infringement. But, this week, it was Aereo's turn to be disrupted. Not by technology, but a federal judge. 

On Wednesday, a U.S. district judge in Utah issued an injunction that banned the service in numerous states. The most important for Aereo are Utah and Colorado, where the company has customers in Salt Lake City and Denver. The service wasn't offered in any other states impacted by the ruling. 

Aereo Chief Executive Chet Kanojia said he was "extremely disappointed that the District Court in Utah has chosen to take a different path than every other Court that has reviewed the Aereo technology." 

Fox, on the other hand, called the ruling "a significant win for both broadcasters and content owners."   

After three previous federal judges ruled in Aereo's favor -- including its most important ruling in one of the company's most significant markets, New York, where the service sold out earlier this year -- the latest ruling is definitely a blow to the company. But despite what happens in Utah, the real legal turning point for the company is still to come. 

That's because the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear the case against Aereo later this year, a decision that could drastically impact the way you watch TV.

Until then, the latest ruling is just a blow to the company's confidence -- after recently raising $34 million to help with a nationwide expansion of its services -- and revenue.  

Photo: Flickr/SarahMcGowen

— By on February 21, 2014, 9:42 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure