A federal judge rejected a bid by major broadcasters to stop billionaire Barry Diller's Aereo, an online television streaming service, from rebroadcasting their programming online pending a trial.
District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan said on Wednesday that Aereo proved it would be harmed if the requested preliminary injunction were granted, despite the fact that the broadcasters demonstrated that they faced irreparable harm, according to court documents obtained by TheWrap.
The so-called "balance of hardships" did not tip in the broadcasters' favor.
“Today’s decision shows that when you are on the right side of the law, you can stand up, fight the Goliath and win,” Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said in a statement. “This isn’t just a win for Aereo, it’s also a significant win for consumers who are demanding more choice and flexibility in the way they watch television.”
Backed by Diller, a billionaire media mogul, Aereo launched last March but has faced fierce legal challenges from NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, PBS and Univision, all of whom have filed suit alleging that the company does not have their consent to retransmit their programming.
A joint statement made between the broadcasters said they were disappointed but will continue to fight to protect their copyrights.
"Today's decision is a loss for the entire creative community," the statement said. "The judge has denied our request for preliminary relief — ruling that is OK to misappropriate copyrighted material and retransmit it without compensation."
Aereo works by picking up broadcast signals over clusters of tiny antennas and sending them via the internet to users' mobile devices, computers or web-enabled televisions.
In May, Nathan dismissed an unfair competition claim against the company, arguing that was a matter of federal, not state, law.
A spokeswoman for Aereo said an official statement was forthcoming.
Pamela Chelin contributed reporting.