In a partial victory for Aereo, a U.S. district court judge dismissed part of a lawsuit brought against the digital television company by a group of major broadcasters.
Backed by media mogil Barry Diller, 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.
In response, Aereo has argued that it has a legal right to access broadcast signals because the airwaves are publicly owned.
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 a decision made public on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan dismissed an unfair competition claim against the company, arguing that was a matter of federal, not state law.
However, Aereo must still face a copyright infringement claim. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for May 30.
Scott Grogin, a spokesman for Fox, portrayed the dismissal as a technical matter that was not a comment on merits of the broadcasters' claims.
"We look forward to our day in court to prove that Aereo's unauthorized streaming of our content constitutes copyright infringement," Grogin said.
A spokesperson for Aereo declined to comment.
The startup is funded by Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp, and the former Fox and Paramount chief has accused the media companies of resorting to legal challenges in order to protect their own “hegemony” over broadcast television.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.