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Aereo: Massachusetts Court Won't Enjoin Service

A Massachusetts U.S. District Judge has denied a Hearst (WCVB-TV Boston) petition for a preliminary injunction against the service, which delivers TV station signals over the Internet to its subscribers, while the court considers its legality.

Aereo says that it is transmitting a private rather than a public performance when it delivers TV station signals, while Hearst argues that "the fact that each user views a unique copy of the program is irrelevant to the analysis," said Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton. Gorton concluded that "Aereo's interpretation is a better reading of the statute."

A preliminary injunction has a high bar, and Hearst did not clear it. Though Hearst did demonstrate "some likelihood of injury," but not that it would suffer irreparable harm, which is one of the four tests for an injuinction.

"Hearst has not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits nor the requisite irreparable harm and therefore it is not entitled to that "extraordinary and drastic remedy," the judge concluded.

"Today's decision, coupled with the decisions in favor of Aereo in the Southern District of New York (July 11, 2013) and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (April 1, 2013 and July 16, 2013), shows that when you comply not only with the letter, but the spirit of the law, justice will prevail," said Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia in a statement.

The courts have yet to weigh in on the underlying suits by broadcasters charging copyright violation, but the courts have consistently denied broadcaster efforts to block the service while they are deciding.

Broadcasters say Aereo is retransmitting its signals without permission or payment in violation of copyright laws. Aereo says it is giving them remote access to the free TV signals they are entitled to.

The judge denied Aereo's request to move the case to New York.