Aereo Countersues Broadcasters in Copyright Dispute

The Barry Diller-backed TV company Aereo says it has a legal right to capture network broadcast programming via its network of tiny antennas

Aereo hit back at the major broadcast networks on Monday over claims that the television service is violating copyright. 

In a countersuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the company claims that it has a legal right to access broadcast signals using its dime-sized antennas and offer network programming to customers. 

The company, which is backed by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp, is asking for declaratory judgment that it does not infringe on copyright. Aereo is also seeking attorneys' fees.

Also read: Barry Diller on Aereo's Battle with Broadcasters: Let's Rumble

"The case involves nothing more than the application of settled law to updated technology — settled law that establishes conclusively that Aereo's business is entirely lawful," the suit reads. 

Attorneys for the company contend that since the programming in question is transmitted through public airwaves, it has a right to capture signals for over-the-air shows and events. They further contend that individuals have a right to make recordings of broadcasts for personal use. 

"We firmly believe that Aereo's technology is lawful," Mike Schroeder, a spokesman for Aereo, said in a statement to TheWrap. "We are confident in the legal process, and we look forward to a prompt resolution of these meritless lawsuits.”

The countersuit arrives less than two weeks after Aereo was slapped with a pair of lawsuits by NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, PBS and Univision, charging the company with retransmitting broadcast programming without their consent. 

It also hits on the heels of defiant remarks by Diller at SXSW Film Festival Sunday.

"This is not some evil thing," Diller said. "This is absolutely predictable. Media companies have hegemony over it (broadcast TV) and they want to protect it."

The service was scheduled to begin exclusively in New York City on March 14. 

Aereo works by picking up broadcast signals over clusters of tiny antennas and sending them via the internet to users' mobile devices, computers or tablets for $12 a month.