3 Count: It’s Spreading

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1: Fox, Sinclair and Local TV file suit against Aereo in Utah

First off today, Joe Flint at the Los Angeles Times reports that TV streaming service Aereo is facing yet another lawsuit, this time filed in Utah by Fox, Sinclair Broadcast Group and a local TV station.

Aereo is a TV streaming service that uses a series of tiny antennas (one per customer) to capture over-the-air broadcast television and stream it to user devices. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Aereo but other lawsuits against the company have sprang up in Boston and now Utah. Also, a similar service, FilmOn, has struggled in its lawsuits in both California and Washington DC.

Aereo called the new lawsuit an example of “forum shopping”. Broadcasters, however, worry that Aereo could threaten their retransmission fees by giving cable companies and others a way to rebroadcast their signals for free. The split between courts, especially comparing FilmOn to Aereo, makes a Supreme Court hearing on the subject likely.

2: Judge Allows Broadcasters to Examine Aereo’s Patents

Next up today, in other Aereo news, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that broadcasters have won a small victory in their New York case against the service, having convinced the judge to let them depose Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia and CTO Joseph Lipowski over statements made in patent applications.

Specifically, the broadcasters want to question Aereo about a statement made in its patent application that said it was difficult to get broadcast television on non-tv devices, which is in contrast to a statement made by Aereo during the course of its copyright hearings, where it pointed out that other devices existed to put broadcast TV on computers.

For the broadcasters, the issue plays to the the idea of irreparable harm and Aereo’s credibility. Though the broadcasters failed to secure a preliminary injunction against Aereo, the case is steaming toward a trial, where the broadcasters hope to make their case.

3: Court Keeps Candles Lit on Dispute Over ‘Happy Birthday’ Copyright

Finally today, in news not related to Aereo, Ted Johnson at Variety reports that a hearing on the “Happy Birthday” lawsuit was held and the judge has set a path for the case to proceed down.

Warner/Chappell Music is being sued by several people who paid for licenses to use “Happy Birthday to You” claiming that the song is in the public domain and that they, as well as others who paid for a license, should be refunded. Warner/Chappell, however, has said it will produce a 1935 copyright registration that shows the song, both lyrics and arrangement, are protected. However, the plaintiffs argue that the lyrics were present well before the registration and it only covers that specific piano arrangement.

Two of the plaintiffs may be dismissed on statute of limitations grounds, having waited longer than three years to file their claims. Warner/Chappell believes that the other plaintiffs will be dismissed when they prove the song is copyright protected, but the plaintiffs content, if the song was ever protected, that protection ended nearly 100 years ago.

Suggestions

That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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